Who Are Baptists?

What sets Baptists apart from other Christian denominations is how we understand the church. Most Baptists believe in the following:

Believers’ Church

A New Testament church is made up of believers only. Children and grandchildren of members are precious to God and are important to their families within the church, but they cannot be members themselves until they consciously place their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

Baptism

Believer’s Baptism

After a person accepts Jesus as Savior they are to be baptized. Therefore, we baptize believers only, not infants (We do have an infant or child dedication se

rvice). Consistent with the Greek word on which the word “baptize” is based, baptism is performed by full immersion of the individual. University Avenue Baptist Church understands and respects that other Christians practice baptism by other modes and with other meanings; however, University Avenue Baptist Church follows this traditional Baptist model. Baptism is an external sign of an internal change. This is not to suggest that baptism saves a person.  Faith in Christ is what saves.  However, baptism is a step of obedience that every believer is expected to take to identify with the death, burial and resurrection.  Baptism is the occasion to “go public!”  Just like a bride and groom show others their love for one another by wearing wedding bands, your baptism is an opportunity to show others that you have accepted Christ and are now walking with him. It represents that you have been washed clean!  It demonstrates a believers’ submission to God and their willingness to follow Him.

The Lord’s Supper

The Lord’s Supper is a celebration of the presence and grace of Jesus Christ. By faith, we meet the risen Lord at his table in a unique and powerful way.

Church Offices
The two church offices in a Baptist congregation are ministers and deacons. Ministers are the spiritual leaders of the church, overseeing worship, proclamation, discipleship, and all other ministries. Deacons are the primary models of lay ministry, serving the church through family ministry, outreach, and prayerful consideration of major proposals offered by church committees and teams. Deacons are not a governing body of the church, but rather a ministering body, discerning and modeling the best ways that University Avenue can reach others with Christ’s love.

Priesthood of All Believers
All Christians are priests before God through the saving work of Jesus Christ. No woman or man needs an intermediary to commune with God, interpret scripture or minister on her or his behalf. Pastors and full-time clergy are called by God to ministry as a vocation. Although they inhabit a leadership position by virtue of their vocation, their role does not place them in a theologically superior position to the laity. Baptists elevate the laity so that every member is a minister.

Autonomy of the Local Church
Every Baptist church is intended to be a fellowship of like-minded believers, autonomous in its governance and affiliations. All affiliations with local associations, or state or national conventions are voluntary. In affiliating with an association or convention, a Baptist church does not relinquish any of its autonomy or independence regarding either theology or governance. No church has to gain permission from another church in order to do what it believes is the will of God. At the same time, Baptist churches have a long history of cooperating with one another to expand and further the Kingdom of God in the world.

Religious Liberty
In their earliest years, Baptists were persecuted for their convictions about religious liberty. Having suffered at the hands of those who wanted to unite church and state, Baptists have long stood for the absolute religious liberty of all people, achieved through the separation of church and state. Because each person is responsible for their own relationship with God, it is imperative that no person or human institution, particularly government, be a coercive influence either in support of or in opposition to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Each individual must be afforded the right to define their own relationship with God. This right should be guaranteed in both law and practice. Preventing the government from involvement in religion protects society from the tyranny of the majority, individual liberty from coercion and religion itself from corruption by powerful but sinful, finite individuals. For these reasons, church and state should be separate. “A free church in a free nation” is the motto of Baptists.