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Are there any Baptists here who could tell me a bit about it? "Church shopping" (awful phrase.. but...)

(12 Posts)
working9while5 Tue 14-May-13 09:56:47

I am in the middle of a bit of a crisis of faith. Raised Catholic, there are aspects of Catholic doctrine I still feel resonate with me (confession/the belief in God's physical presence in the church and to some extent in communion/an acceptance of suffering as part of our life) but I am married to an Anglican (Church of Ireland) and my eldest son was baptised C of I.

I am happy that both are Christian religions but truthfully, I'm not all that happy about aspects of the Anglican faith. I don't like the military stuff in the churches and I don't like the idea of the monarch as head of the faith or where the church came from (Henry the 8th).

I want my children to have access to a faith community and reading about the Baptist churches they seem lively and equal and there is a local church I would like to try but I am a bit scared too... is it all going to be people flailing in the aisles? (sorry if that sounds offensive, I am actually being as honest as I can).

I just want a community of believers where it doesn't all become about politics, if you know what I mean.

crazymum53 Tue 14-May-13 15:33:31

I was brought up C of E but have been going to Baptist churches for more than 10 years now.
Services are less formal than the traditional denominations with no written liturgy. The congregation are more likely to involved in the services and they tend to use more up to date versions of say the Lord's prayer and more modern songs and sometimes hymns. The ministers wear ordinary clothes and communion is much more informal. Sermons are based on the bible and Jesus and how this applies to our lives.
They tend to be very welcoming places with good provision for children and youth work.
The members of baptist churches also have a say in how the church is run too e.g. choosing the minister.
Some baptist churches are very lively and outgoing and others a bit more traditional, so you do really need to try out your local church and see how it suits you.

sarahtigh Tue 14-May-13 18:14:50

baptists some differences

1. they have a very different theological view of communion that the bread and wine are symbolic of christ's body and blood they do not believe in transubstantiation like catholics that the bread and wine change they believe that at communion they are bread and wine and remain so after the service too they generally use normal everyday white bread the wine may or may not be alcoholic

2 a different view of baptism they believe in baptism as a believer having made your own decision to believe there are no sponsors or god parents mostly being baptised comes with first communion but first communion is not a big deal there is no equivalent of confirmation

3. church government is at congregational level though they may belong to a denominational group this is for fellowship it is not a higher appeal, congregations generally choose and pay for their own minister out of church funds there is no central body to administer this so a very small church the minister may work part time elsewhere in a larger church there may be 2-3 paid workers

4 they do not think of minsters as being sacramental so a non minister or elder may take the communion service

there are other differences too but hopefully that helps

fossil971 Tue 14-May-13 23:53:55

Well described above. Baptist churches tend to have a more straight forward set-up, as said the church members meeting makes all the decisions, including appointing the minister. This means they are quite accountable but can also be affected by a few strong/odd personalities! Many of them are flexible about whether you are adult baptised or whether you want to stick to your infant baptism/confirmation if you've come from another tradition.

The Baptists are right-on with womens' ministry and have just appointed a woman as General Secretary of the Baptist Union grin

Italiangreyhound Wed 15-May-13 01:50:36

Working 9to5 I hope you find a place that is right for you. The above posters have all said (much better than I) lots of fab things about Baptist churches.

I go to a small free church which is very similar to a Baptist Church, we do not have our own building but do have a paid minister and an elder or two.

I started going to a free church four years ago because we moved from a large Anglican one and I must admit I miss some of the stuff (like communion) although having gone to an evangelical (low) Anglican church there was not much 'pomp' if you know what I mean!

The things I noticed most are that we have church members meetings where we all hear about everything! which is very different from C of E where a committee (PCC) decides stuff.

The communion in our church is pieces of Matzo bread and tiny plastic cups of wine (grape juice). When we have communion we eat the bread when we receive it individually and then all drink our tiny cups together! All churches may vary so maybe if you take communion just watch what ones do! wink

One big difference will possibly be whether or not the Baptist church is a member of BUGB if they are then you can take a look at the BUGB website and see more about them. If they are not then see if they are affliliated to any other organisation. For example a Baptist church near us is a member of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches FIEC and my church is also a member of the FIEC. Members of the FIEC do not accept women in main leadership roles, so they would not have women elders or pastors but they would have women leading worship, reading the Bible, leading Sunday school, helping with outreach and leading in smaller groups like house group and maybe an evening service.

Personally, I do not agree with the limitation of women in leadership angry but we choose our church by heart not head, as in we went along and loved the people grin before I found out that women do not have ultimate leadership roles!

In some ways this is probably similar to the current situation with the C of E, not having women bishops (although I think that will change) and of course the Roman Catholic Church not having women priests.

I wanted to say this because I was probably under the impression that Baptist churches all accepted women leaders and if you go to a service you may well see a woman up the front doing things at church and assume they can do anything! So if you want to know what they believe or think, then ask, don't assume it will be the same as you are used to or the same as other churches, unlike Roman Catholic or Anglican churches, Baptist churches have more freedom to vary exactly how they run things, I think!

It really depends what is important to you and so it is worth checking out the individual church website should somewhere state what they believe and which organisation/s (if any) they are affiliated to.

The adult baptism thing is something I am more than happy with and we chose not to have our daughter baptised as a child (she was dedicated in an Anglican church). When we arrived at our free church we attended for a year and then became members, which involved being formally welcomed in the service. We were not asked to be baptised as adults and the fact we had made our own declaration of faith as adults in our own C of E context many years ago was fine. I actually think I would be happy either way but again you may wish to just ask what they think if you find yourself wanting to actually join.

Good luck and please do let us know how you get on. smile

thegreenheartofmanyroundabouts Wed 15-May-13 08:03:11

Echo what has been said above. My experience of Baptist churches is that their congregational nature means that they can vary a great deal. In my town there are two Baptist churches and both are very conservative theologically. The town I used to live in had a Baptist church that was more mainstream and if I hadn't been happy in my middle of the road Anglican church that is where I would have gone as it had great children's and youth work.

All you can do is go and try it out. If there is a methodist church in your area they are also worth a look and the singing is usually pretty good!

crescentmoon Wed 15-May-13 08:27:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sarahtigh Wed 15-May-13 09:56:55

most baptists are happy for you to take communion based on your baptism as infant however some of the very conservative ones will not

you could not become an elder/ leader unless baptised as a believer, they will not baptise your babies or children but would normally have an informal blessing for them the first time they were taken to church

thanksamillion Wed 15-May-13 10:33:02

I was going to say that you might like to check out the Methodist church. They do vary greatly in how lively they are, but they do have liturgy for communion and baptise babies (generally).

I think in general that individual churches vary so greatly that it's hard to generalise about any one denomination.

What are the 'absolutes' for you (infant baptism, women in leadership etc etc)? Work them out and go from there!

MareeyaDolores Thu 16-May-13 00:26:39

As a Catholic member of a Baptist prayer group, I've been astounded at how very theologically similar it feels. That said, for me, 'proper Mass' is non-negotiable, and that's the one really big difference.

working9while5 Thu 16-May-13 09:51:16

Oh hello Mareeya! <<waves>>

Yes. Been to the priest this week and I am going to basically try and be a bit of an inbetweener for a while - he said to view it as being a detective. So going to Mass myself, probably either 8am on a Sunday or to one of the evening ones and then visiting the various Protestant churches with dh and the kids until we can find something that suits us best.

I just need a bit of faith in my life right now, as you do sometimes and I want my kids to have the same. I just need to get a sense of what really matters to me in terms of it, what will give me that sense of peace and presence but that I feel will be valuable to bear witness for in terms of the kids if you know what I mean.

Thanks everyone for your comments, they're really helpful. We'll definitely give it a whirl and be open in heart and mind to what we find.

MareeyaDolores Thu 16-May-13 10:03:42

I thought there couldn't be two working9 types... grin

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