Ecclesiological Guidelines To Inform Southern Baptist Church Planters -- By: R. Stanton Norman

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 05:1 (Spring 2008)
Article: Ecclesiological Guidelines To Inform Southern Baptist Church Planters
Author: R. Stanton Norman


Ecclesiological Guidelines To Inform Southern Baptist Church Planters1

R. Stanton Norman

Vice president for University relations
Southwest Baptist University2

Introduction

Southern Baptist mission agencies assist Southern Baptist churches in the task of church planting. In this church planting ministry, Southern Baptist church planters must have and work with an ecclesiology that is both biblical and Baptist. Church planting strategies and endeavors must be conducted in such a way that they are obedient and submitted to the New Testament for faith and practice as well as committed to Baptist ecclesiology as stated in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. In other words, these church plants exist and function as Baptist churches in accordance with the confessional statement of the Southern Baptist Convention. The following guidelines and discussion will assist the North American Mission Board to know the type of churches it affirms and will direct its church planting ministry.

The Baptist Faith And Message 2000

The article “The Church” as contained in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 describes a Baptist church in the following way:

A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are

pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture. The New Testament speaks also of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.

The following material will provide a theological commentary on the significance of the BFM article for a Baptist understanding of the nature and purpose of the church.

Biblical Authority: The Authority Of A Baptist Church

Baptists classically affirm the inspiration and authority of both Old and New Testaments. Doctrines such as the nature and personhood of God, creation, and sin require the authoritative and inspi...

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