Baptism & Membership

How do I learn more about becoming a Christian?


The best way is by talking to people who already know Him. At Albany Park we use both preaching and mid-week groups to help us study the Bible, understand Jesus better and discover more about Him. If you live locally just contact us and we'll let you know about our next Alpha, Discipleship Group, or Bible Study. But if you want to explore a little more before taking that step, we recommend the reJesus websites. Another way to learn is by reading about Him in the Bible. Don't be put off by childhood memories of old fashioned language. There are now many excellent modern translations of the Bible suitable for different age groups. The Good News Bible is a great version to start with, whatever your age. The Youth Bible has helpful sections for young people facing problems and questions growing up. The pew bible at Albany Park Baptist Church is the New International Version. The word Bible means library, so don't start by trying to read it from cover to cover – start with one of the gospels, like Mark or John. All Christian bookshops sell notes that can help you to think more about what you are reading. The nearest Christian bookshop is the CLC Bookshop. 13 Upper Wickham Lane, Welling, Kent DA16 3AA Phone: 020 8301 4641 Fax: 020 8301 6594 Contact: Jose Seymour Websites: www.clcbookshops.com or www.clc.org.uk welling@clcbookshops.com




What do Baptists believe?


We are affiliated to the Baptist Union of Great Britain but every Baptist Church is independent and autonomous. These are the main things that make Baptists distinctive. The Lordship of Christ Baptists affirm that ‘Jesus is Lord’. He is Lord over our individual lives, the life of each church, and the life of the whole world. The Authority of the Bible The Bible is described as the ‘Word of God’ because Baptists believe that its writers were inspired by God’s Spirit. As such, it has authority to guide both what we believe and how we live our lives. Believer's Baptism From the example of the New Testament, Baptists believe that baptism is only for those who believe and are able to declare personally that Jesus is Lord. As a symbol of Jesus’ claim on our lives, we practise baptism by immersion, representing a desire to die to self and to live for Christ. A Believer's Church Baptists understand the church to be a community of believers gathered in the name of Jesus Christ for worship, witness and service. There is no set Baptist liturgy. Each local church and community is free to determine its own pattern, though prayer and praise, listening and reflecting on scripture – and sharing Holy Communion will always be central. The Priesthood of all Believers Baptists believe that everyone who belongs to a Baptist church has a role to play and can use their God-given skills and talents for the good of the church and the community. These gifts include teaching, evangelism, social action, pastoral care, prayer, healing, taking part in worship, administration or hospitality. Church Members and Church Meetings When a person is baptised in a Baptist church, they normally become a church member. Church members are called to prayerfully discern God’s will for their shared life. Final authority does not rest with the Minister, Deacons or any other local, national or international body, but with the members meeting together under God’s guidance. The Church meeting makes appointments, agrees financial policy and mission strategy. Interdependence Baptists believe that churches should not live in isolation from one another but rather be interdependent. Our church is linked locally with the South East Thames Group of Baptist Churches, and regionally through the London Baptist Association, for support and fellowship. We also have close links with other local evangelical churches (St Andrews and Christ Church, Sidcup) for worship and learning together. Sharing the faith Baptists believe that each Christian has a duty to share their faith with others. We recognise that mission is not just evangelism, but also includes promoting justice, social welfare, healing, education and peace in the world. Religious freedom Religious freedom for all has always been a keystone of Baptist understanding. Acceptance of differences of outlook and diversity of practice is encouraged within Baptist churches, as well as in our wider world. To find out more, take a look at the Baptist Union website where you will find "Who'd be a Baptist?" To find out more about Baptist History visit the Baptist Historical Society website.





Baptism

What is baptism?


Once a person has decided to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, the next step is normally to follow Christ’s command to be baptised. This is a sign of obedience to Christ and a public witness of faith.




How do I get baptised?


If you want to know more about becoming baptized, the first thing to do is to speak to the Minister. He will arrange a short course of instruction during which you can ask questions and clarify your understanding of what is involved before making a decision.




How does Albany Park Baptist Church practice baptism?


From the example of the New Testament, Baptists believe that baptism is only for those who believe and are able to declare personally that Jesus is Lord. As a symbol of Jesus’ claim on our lives, we normally practise baptism by immersion, which symbolises the death and burial of our old lives and resurrection to a new life in Jesus Christ. Where immersion is not possible, because of age or infirmity, then we baptise by effusion. If you were baptised as an infant, you may still be baptised as a believer.




Why don't Baptists Christen children?


Baptists believe that baptism is only for believers and therefore should follow faith, i.e. it is for those who have personally accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour. We believe that only you can take that decision and that it is not a decision that anyone else can take on your behalf. This is in line with scriptural teaching. "Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts2v38) "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28v19) "Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned". (Mark 16v16) We naturally want to thank God for the gift of a child. We do this in a service of dedication. In this, parents dedicate themselves to the Christian upbringing of the child, and the church family promises to support the parents in that task. We give thanks and seek God's blessing on the child. "Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me" (Mark 9v37) "And He took the children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them" (Mark 10v16).




How old do you have to be to be baptised?


Baptists do not set an age for baptism. The important qualification is that you are old enough to understand and to have made a personal decision to follow Jesus. At Albany Park we have baptised people as young as 11 and as old as 80.




What do you wear?


Traditionally people chose to wear a white gown but nowadays most people wear something casual that is white or light in colour.




Is the water special?


No! It's just ordinary tap water, but we do warm it up first!




Can I be baptised if I've been Christened?


Because Baptists do not accept infant Baptism or Christening as true Baptism, then there is normally no objection to the Baptism of a believer who has been Christened as an infant. Believer's Baptism is a sign of obedience to Christ's command to "Believe and be Baptised. Once baptised as a believer, whether by immersion or not, you cannot be baptised again.





Membership

What is church membership?


Baptists believe that when we are received by Jesus we should also be received into His body, which is the church. The church is not a building, but a gathering of His people who meet together for worship, teaching, fellowship and mutual support. Our youngest member is 35 and our oldest is 90+, but we have had members as young as 14 and as old as 106!




Who can become a member of Albany Park Baptist Church?


We believe the Gospel teaches that it is normal for those who have accepted the Lord Jesus as their Saviour to accept His body too. His body is the Church and as Christians we are called to live out our Christian lives in fellowship with other Christians. Church Membership is open to Christians who sympathise with Believer’s Baptism, whether baptised or not. At Albany Park we have "open" membership. This means that we accept all those who have accepted Jesus as Saviour and Lord, whether or not they have been baptised. Non-baptised members are earnestly asked to consider baptism in the light of scriptural teaching. Only baptised members are eligible to become Deacons.




What does membership involve?


As a member, you accept certain responsibilities:

  • To live a life consistent with the calling of God
  • To pray and read the Bible regularly
  • To regularly and faithfully attend church for worship
  • To attend Church Meetings and Prayer Meetings wherever possible
  • To care for and share fellowship with other members
  • To take part in the work of the church in those areas in which they are gifted. Everyone should be able to find a role
  • To take responsibility for church decision making, and to stand by decisions of the church meeting
  • To support the church financially, in so far as they are able
  • To seek to bring others to the church
  • To seek to win others for the Lord by witness and example
  • To regularly attend and share in the Lord’s Supper




How do I become a member of Albany Park Baptist Church?


If you are thinking about Church Membership, then please contact the Minister or one of the Deacons. Christians apply for membership and are interviewed by two visitors appointed by the church. If the church is satisfied that the applicant has a genuine faith and is living a life consistent with their Christian calling, they will be accepted into membership.