WHAT IS A BAPTIST?
Baptist churches are found in almost every country in the world. As part of the world-wide Christian church, Baptists form one of the largest families of faith, alongside other trinitarian Christian traditions such as Anglicans, Methodists, Reformed, etc.
For Baptists the concept of a family is important. The church is not so much a particular place or building, but rather a family of believers, committed to Christ, to one another and to the service of God in the world. In this Baptist family everybody is equal, for everybody has a part to play in the service of God.
Baptists are grass-roots people, with a particular emphasis on the local church. Although each Baptist church is an independent entity, Baptists nonetheless have always believed in associating with one another - and so the churches come together in regional, national and international spheres to promote and support the fellowship of Baptists everywhere.
Baptists derive their name from the very visible practice of believers’ baptism. Baptism involves the total immersion of a person into water in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit on their own profession of faith. Unlike some other Christian denominations, Baptists do not baptise infants but only those who are of an age to make a clear declaration of their own free will. By means of baptism, a person declares their desire to turn from a life without God to one which is lived for God through Jesus Christ.
Christian faith is not something that anybody can choose for any one other than themselves. Each person needs to be ‘born again’ on their own account (John 3:3) because they have intentionally turned from a godless life to a life in God. They have done this because they have come to believe for themselves that the Christian faith is true, that their lives are falling short of what they should be, and that Jesus Christ is the one through whom they can receive forgiveness from God and a new life in God’s Spirit.
Baptism marks a new start. It is intended to take place near to a person’s first commitment to Christ and as part of the process by which they pass from the world of unbelief to the life of faith. People of all ages and mental ability are welcome to be baptised as soon as they are able to make a clear personal decision.