The Baptist Distinctives
Why are we a “Baptist” church? What makes a “Baptist” church different than other kinds of churches? It simply means that we adhere to the historic Baptist distinctives. If the truth were known, many people who have grown up in Baptist churches probably do not even know what differentiates Baptists from other denominations. And while we have many dear friends and co-laborers in the Kingdom work of Christ that belong to many other denominations, we feel these “distinctives” best follow the practices and beliefs of the New Testament church. Probably the easiest and most basic way of explaining the Baptist Distinctives is by using the following acrostic:
The Bible is inspired by God and bears the absolute authority of God Himself. It is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice. Neither human opinion nor decree of any church body or individual can override the Bible. Creeds and confessions of faith, while useful in the attempt to articulate the theology of Scripture, do not carry Scripture's inherent authority.
Autonomy of the Local Church
The local church is an independent body accountable to the Lord Jesus Christ, its only Head. The church is autonomous, or self-governing. No religious hierarchy outside the local church may dictate a church's beliefs or practices. All human authority for governing the local church resides within the local church itself. Autonomy does not mean isolation. A Baptist church may fellowship with other churches around mutual interests but not as a "member" of, or subordinate to, any other body.
Priesthood of All Believers
Every born again believer is a priest of God and may enter into His presence in prayer directly through our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ. No other mediator is needed between God and people. This wonderful privilege is given to all believers that we might serve one another within our community of believers. This doctrine, then, has more to do with each Christian's responsibility to serve one another than with one's personal authority or status before God.
Two Church Ordinances
Every member of a Baptist Church must be saved by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, and have publicly proclaimed their faith through believer's baptism. Full immersion in water is the only acceptable mode for baptism because it alone preserves the picture of saving truth, the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (Romans 6:1-5). We believe that the Lord's Supper is a symbolic memorial picturing Christ's body broken for our sins and His blood shed for our redemption. There is no saving efficacy in either baptism or the Lord’s Supper and are to be observed by regenerate, obedient believers.
International & Domestic Missions
For all the differences among baptist through the years there has always been one common conviction among us, the importance of the Great Commission. Baptist have always been a people with a passion for making disciples of all nations by proclaiming the gospel with power and conviction to all peoples.
Saved and Baptized Church Membership
Every member of a Baptist Church must be a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, have publicly proclaimed their testimony of personal faith in Christ, and have publicly identified themselves with Him in believer's baptism. When the members of a local church are believers, oneness in Christ exists, and the members can endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
There are two offices in the church, Pastor/Elder and Deacon. The two offices of elder and deacon exist within the local church, not as a hierarchy outside or over the local church.
Separation of Church and State
God has established both civil government and the church. They fulfill two separate roles in society. The two should not control each other, nor should they be in alliance with each other. This does not mean that individual Christians are prohibited from participating and influencing government toward righteousness.