It is true that Baptists’ origins lie in Great Britain, but they would quickly spread beyond the border of Britain. The rise of religious persecution in England inspired many Baptists to leave for North America, seen as a place to find land, liberty, and the safety to raise a family.
The first Baptists to come to North America were English speaking, and organized on English principles. Not all Baptists were English based: Welsh congregations soon arrived in North America and were the first ethnically oriented congregation.Then German Baptist settlers arrived, followed by settlers from all over Europe and Asia. As North America became a garden of variety, so too did Baptist congregations.
How do Baptist churches come into being? What do Baptists mean when they use terms such as “meeting” or “gathering”? And who establishes these meetings: an elder, or God? This video
helps to navigate why Baptists might use different terms, and their particular historical
developments. And keep an ear out for the more interesting particulars of some early Baptist
What is the life cycle of a baptist congregation? Most Baptist congregations move through five
stages: a beginning, growth, maximum effectiveness, uncertainty, and finally to plateau, close, or blend with another congregation. But these congregations are always voluntary, never coercive. Where do Baptists stand on the Kingdom? It is a thing here, but also coming.
Imagine a contemporary Baptist congregation. What do you see? Pews, chairs, platform for
lectern, a choir, a glass partition for baptism. But these were not always the standard. Early
Baptist meetings were intimate, with everyone sharing and talking. Yet, these is consistency.
Preaching the Word, the Lord’s Supper, and Believer’s baptism are central to the life of the
congregation. These congregations would be led by a strong pastoral office, but supported by
deacons, as well as the priesthood of all believers.
How do Baptists interact beyond the local congregation? It is through association with one another (not a scriptural term, but a practical term by practical people) that Baptists form Associations, Conventions, Unions, and even the Baptist World Alliance. But none of these are superior bodies, but cooperative. They are not held together by coercion, but voluntarily.
Synonymous with the word “Baptist” is the word “Missions.” At first, Baptist mission meant sharing the gospel by an elder or pastor, and growing a congregation where a congregation had
not existed yet, usually nearby. But as the world opened up, places like Africa, China, India, and North and South America became new fields for mission work.
What relationship do Baptists have with other Christians? Baptists initially were dissenters, much like Quakers, desiring to establish religious toleration in their societies. Baptists were willing to join with other Christians in schools, mission fields, social projects, and evangelism.
An important overarching theme in all Baptist writings, thought, and work is the Lordship of Jesus Christ. With all other Christians, Baptists affirm Jesus as saviour and Lord, and the Trinitarian nature of Jesus. Baptists also affirm the fully human and fully divine nature of Jesus: He is also Lord of all creation, our Saviour, and the resurrected Lord, who will come gain. Jesus as Lord, then, means Baptists are called to be more like Jesus, to follow in his footsteps.
Baptists have a plethora of words used to describe the Bible: Inspired, infallible, trustworthy, the rule for life, a guide, a perfect treasury, inerrant, and authoritative. What do all these words
mean? Find out in this video.