As we have visited in the community, the question has often arisen, "Just what is an Independent Baptist Church?" This article was written with the purpose of giving some answers to that inquiry.
Until the year 1845, there was no Southern Baptist Convention. There were only local associations of Baptist Churches. These were held together on the grounds of doctrine and not by denominational machinery. So an Independent Baptist Church is what Baptist churches, all Baptist churches, were before the forming of various conventions.
As Independent Baptists, we elect our own Pastor, choose our own missionaries (there are over 10,000 Independent Baptist missionaries today), set our own budgets, and conduct business as the local assembly sees fit without having to report to any ecclesiastical hierarchy. This is the Biblical position for which Baptists have historically stood. Not one book of the Bible is addressed to a convention, but the contrariwise is true, they are addressed to local churches.
These are the areas that are usually found in Independent Baptist churches that make them different from convention or school oriented churches:
THE LOCAL CHURCH ITSELF:
We believe that Jesus started the local church in His ministry on the shores of Galilee. The church did not start on the day of Pentecost; this was when the Lord gave the church its power. He was its founder. We believe that Jesus gave authority to the local church to start other church. (Matthew 28:18-20)
It is unscriptural for schools, individuals or denominations to start churches. The authority must come from the local Baptist church. Churches begat churches. Since Jesus started the church, there has always been a church that existed like He started. There will be local churches of like faith and practice when He returns. Each church has Christ as its head (Colossians 1:18), a Pastor as its overseer and an example to the flock (I Peter 5:2), Deacons as helpers to the pastor in the work of the ministry, to lighten the load of the pastor, to help him, encourage him and enhance his ministry (Acts 6:1-3, I Timothy 3:8-13). The body is made up of saved, baptized, separated believers joined together for the work that the Lord has called them to.
THE WORK OF THE LOCAL CHURCH:
We believe in a proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God. This is to be done by various means such as pulpit preaching, door to door soul winning, gospel tracts, personal witnessing and worldwide missions.
THE LEADERSHIP OF THE LOCAL CHURCH:
We believe the Pastors are overseers of the local body. The deacons and other committees are not to Lord over the Pastor nor the churches affairs. The Pastor is to lead the congregation as the Lord leads. The body of the church (saved, baptized members of the local assembly) has voting privileges that count as one the same as the Pastor. Committees and other groups are not the governing counselors of the church. Any godly Pastor concerned with the local body will not lord over God’s heritage but will seek to be led of the Lord. Independent Baptist strongly believes in the fact that God appoints authorities in the local body. They are gifts to the church (Ephesians 4:11, 12; Hebrews 13:17), thus they believe in God’s ability to change the authorities heart as God wills (Proverbs 21:1). Independent Baptists believe in the Biblical authority in the church and allowing the leadership to lead.
The local body supports missionaries around the world. These missionaries are known by the local congregation. The missionaries communicate with the churches by letters, and when home on furlough visit each of their supporting churches in person. This gives the church an opportunity to get to know each missionary and their family personally. Monies that are given through the church, to missions, goes straight to the missionaries on the field, thus 100% of every mission dollar given reaches the mission field and the missionaries’ ministry. We believe that missionaries are to be sent out by local churches. Their authority to go out does not come through any school, convention, or fellowship without a local church.
THE WORD OF GOD:
The King James version is God’s only version of the Bible given to the English speaking world. Other versions of the Bible MAY contain parts of the word of God, but they have deletions of scripture, changes in wording, and errors. The King James version is God’s preserved (Psalm 12:6, 7), inerrant, inspired, infallible, authoritative, eternal word of the living God with no errors whatsoever (II Timothy 3:16, 17). All ministries of true Independent Baptist churches only use the King James version of the Bible.
We take Amos 3:3 literally that it is imperative that believers believe the same or they cannot fellowship together. God wants churches and believers to separate from organizations and groups that are opposed to Biblical truth whether in principle or in doctrine that adorns the gospel of Christ (II Corinthians 6:14-18). We believe that Baptists are to fellowship with Baptists while each local assembly has a specific will for that separated body of believers. The members of the body are to lead separate, holy, godly lives from the humanistic philosophies of the world (Titus 2:12).