The Lordship of Christ – Baptists affirm that ‘Jesus is Lord’. He is Lord over our individual lives, the life of each church, and the life of the whole world.
The authority of the Bible – The Bible is described as the ‘Word of God’ because Baptists believe that its writers were inspired by God’s Spirit. As such, it has authority to guide both what we believe and how we live our lives.
Baptism for Believers – From the example of the New Testament, Baptists claim that baptism is for those who believe and are able to declare that Jesus is Lord. As a symbol of Jesus’ claim on our lives, baptism by immersion is practised, representing a desire to die to self and to live for Christ.
A believers’ church – Baptists understand the church as a community of believers gathered in the name of Jesus Christ for worship, witness and service. There is no set Baptist liturgy. Each local church and community is free to determine its own pattern, though prayer and praise, listening and reflecting on scripture, and sharing Holy Communion will always be central.
The priesthood of all believers – Baptists believe that everyone that attends a Baptist church has a role to play and can use their God-given skills and talents for the good of the church and the community. These gifts include teaching, evangelism, social action, pastoral care, prayer, healing, taking part in worship, administration or hospitality.
Church members and church meetings – When a person is baptised in a Baptist church, they normally become a church member. Church members are called to prayerfully discern God’s will for their shared life. Final authority does not rest with the ministers, deacons or any other local, national or international body, but with the members meeting together under God’s guidance. Church meetings will make significant appointments including ministers, and agree financial policy and mission.
Interdependence – Baptists believe that churches should not live in isolation from one another but rather be interdependent. Our Baptist churches are linked regionally, nationally and internationally for support and fellowship.
Sharing the faith – Baptists believe that each Christian has a duty to share their faith with others. We recognise that mission is not just evangelism, but also includes promoting justice, social welfare, healing, education and peace in the world.
Religious Freedom – Religious freedom for all has always been a keystone of Baptist understanding. Acceptance of differences of outlook and diversity of practice is encouraged within Baptist churches, as well as in our wider world.
Membership of the church is open to all who profess repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Church members’ meetings are normally held six times a year and are responsible for the overall policy of the church. We believe that all members have a vital part to play in our life together, and we seek to encourage individuals to discover and use their gifts.
We endorse the ‘Five Core Values for a Gospel People’ identified by the Baptist Union. In our fellowship, ministry and mission, God calls us to be:
A Prophetic Community
Following Jesus in confronting evil, injustice and hypocrisy. Challenging worldly concepts of wealth, power, status and security.
As Baptists, we emphasise the importance of conscience, and of carefully listening to the voice of conscience. Having a dissenting history, we should be unafraid to live distinctively and prophetically.
An Inclusive Community
Following Jesus in transcending barriers of gender, language, race, class, age and culture. Identifying with those who are rejected, deprived and powerless.
We should reflect Jesus’ love for the fallen, the excluded, the poor and hungry, the oppressed, voiceless and powerless. As Baptists we need to recover the Reformation emphasis on the priesthood of all believers.
A Sacrificial Community
Following Jesus in accepting vulnerability and the necessity of sacrifice. Seeking to reflect the generous, life-giving nature of God.
Baptist communities will resist the temptations of worldly power and triumphalism. We will recognise the importance of vulnerability and the necessity of sacrifice as the path to resurrection and new life. We will embrace the call to live with paradox and failure. We will seek to reflect the generous life-giving nature of God.
A Missionary Community
Following Jesus in demonstrating in word and action God’s forgiving and healing love. Calling and enabling people to experience the love of God for themselves.
Corporately and individually we are obliged to seek to bring other people to a personal experience of God’s saving love and to a faith-relationship with him and to demonstrate in our words and actions God’s forgiving and healing love.
A Worshipping Community
Following Jesus in engaging in worship and prayer which inspire and undergird all we are and do. Exploring and expressing what it means to live together as the people of God, obeying his Word and following Christ in the whole of daily life.
We must recognise the primacy of worship and prayer, both individually and corporately. This will nurture our relationship with God and awaken us to the wonder of his salvation. It will open our hearts and minds to the renewing power of the Holy Spirit, making us more ready to obey his Word and honour him in all aspects of our daily lives. It will also enrich our life together as the people of God by guiding and undergirding all we are and do.