Small Group: The Church & Denominations-05/02/18




Baptists came into existence as two distinct groups, with somewhat different beliefs and practices, but with believer’s baptism in common.  The two main strands were known as General Baptists and Particular Baptists.

  • General Baptists got their name because they believed in a general atonement.

-They believed Christ died for all people generally, and that whoever would believe in Christ could be saved.

-They also believed that it was possible to lose your salvation.

  • Particular Baptists got their name because they believed in particular (limited) atonement.

-They believed that Christ died only for a particular group, the elect. They were deeply influenced by the teachings of John Calvin.

Baptists got their name from their mode of baptism (immersion)


# People:

There are about 50 million Baptists in the United States and make up about 1/3 of all Protestants in the United States; making it the 2nd largest religious group after Roman Catholics in the United States.


How Governed


  • Every Baptist church is autonomous. Being an autonomous church is a large part of what it means to be a Baptist church.

-Autonomy means that each Baptist church, among other things, selects its pastoral        leadership, determines its worship form, decides financial matters and directs other church-related affairs without outside control or supervision.

-Baptist denominational organizations such as associations of churches and state and national conventions have no authority over a Baptist church.

-Baptists are generally grouped into associations for purposes of fellowship.


Use Statement of Faith Handout to fill in these areas later


  • The ultimate authority in all matters of faith, conduct, order, and morality is, and must always be, the Holy Bible.
  • The Bible is God’s infallible, written word; uniquely, verbally, and fully inspired by the Holy Spirit.
  • It was written without error in the original manuscripts.

-2 Timothy 3:16,17; 2 Peter 1:21;  1 Corinthians 2:13;   Acts 1:16



  • God the Father is an infinite, personal spirit, perfect in holiness, wisdom, power and love.
  • He concerns Himself mercifully in the affairs of men.
  • He hears and answers prayer.
  • He saves from sin and death all who come to Him through Jesus Christ.

-Deuteronomy 6:4; John 4:24



  • Jesus Christ is the only begotten, eternal Son of God, who, in His incarnation, was born to a virgin.
  • He lived a sinless life, performed many miracles.
  • His shed blood on the cross of Calvary is of infinite value and although it is sufficient for all, it is effective for those who will believe; the elect. Jesus Christ died on the cross as their substitute. By this, He satisfied divine justice and accomplished salvation for them.
  • His body was resurrected from the grave, and He ascended into heaven where He now continues His high-priestly work.
  • His personal and visible return to earth could happen at any moment.
  • Jesus Christ remains forever undiminished deity, which He has had from eternity past;

He also possesses true, sinless humanity in one person.

-John 1:1-14; 3:16; 4:2;  8:46; 10:11, 15, 28-29; 14:11; 17:2,6; Luke 1:26-38;

Matthew 1:20-23; Mark 13:20; Acts 20:28 Romans 5:6-10; 9:6-13; 11:7;

1 Corinthians 15:3-8; 2 Thessalonians 4:13, 14; 2 Timothy 2:10; Ephesians 1:11; Philippians  2:6-11; Colossians 3:12;  Hebrews  4:15; 7:24; 8:32-35; Romans 5:8-10; 1 John 3:5; Revelation 21: 1-5


Holy Spirit:

  • The Holy Spirit is the third person of the triune Godhead, who has come into the world to reveal and glorify Christ and to apply the saving work of Christ to mankind.
  • He is the Spirit of Truth.
  • He convicts and draws sinners to Christ, teaches and assures them, and indwells them continually until the day of Christ’s return.

-John 3:5,6; 14:16,17,26;16:7-14; Romans 8:1-16;

1 Corinthians 1:2,30; 2:10-16; 6:19;  Titus 3:4-7; Ephesians 1:13,14;

Ephesians 4:30


How Saved:

  • Although mankind was made in the image of God and was originally sinless and pure, we have sinned through Adam, the natural head of the human race. Mankind is sinful by nature and by choice and is in need of salvation.

-Genesis 1:26,27;  Genesis 3:1-24;   Romans 3:23; 5:12-21; Galatians 3:22;

Ephesians 2:1-3;  John 3:19

  • Our redemption has been accomplished through Christ’s death and by the shedding of his blood;  salvation is appropriated by faith in Christ.
  • By this faith we are justified from all sin and given the gift of eternal life.
  • This salvation is apart from human works, human descent or ceremonies.

-Hebrews 9:12,22;  Ephesians 1:7; Revelation 1:5;  Leviticus 17:11;

Matthew  26:28; Romans 5:1,6-9;  Romans  8:1;  Ephesians  2:8, 9; John 1:12,13

After Life:

  • The souls of all men will live forever in resurrected bodies, either in heaven or hell.
  • Every individual must come under the judgment of God.
  • The resurrection of unbelievers will be for the ratification of their condemnation and they will continue in an eternal state of torment.
  • Believers works will also be judged and recompensed for their deeds, whether they be good or worthless.
  • The destiny of the true believer in Christ is eternal fellowship in His company.

-I Corinthians  15:35-58; Revelation 20:12-15; II Corinthians 5:10,11


Worship: You get our OW weekly

  • Baptism: by Immersion, represents the believers death and resurrection with Jesus (Romans 6)
  • The Lord’s Supper: Memorial
  • Baptist styles of worship have changed considerably since 1609. The early Baptist services were quite long, sometimes with several sermons, and in the early days there was no music or singing. By the 1670s, some Baptist churches were singing both the Psalms and “man-made” songs. This was quite controversial, and many churches split over the “singing controversy.” … and they still do.


Other Beliefs:

Major Divisions:

American Baptist Convention (Now American Baptist Churches USA) (ABCUSA)

  • Tend to be more liberal: ‘We American Baptists run the whole theological range–fundamentalists, conservative orthodox, liberal … Maybe it is partly because American Baptists are so inclusive that we affirm that we are ecumenical. … We do not have creedal statements. We can worship and work with Episcopalian and Pentecostal, with Roman Catholic and Orthodox.’
  • ABCUSA affirms that each congregation possesses the freedom to determine whether or not to perform same-sex marriages or ordain LGBT clergy
  • The ABCUSA affirms the ordination of women.
  • Member World Council of Churches


PP: Baptist Bible Fellowship

          -Ultra-conservative and fundamental in doctrine.

-Closed communion



Conservative Baptist Association

-It was officially formed in 1947 in Atlantic City, NJ.

-Conservative and fundamental in doctrine and practice.

-Split from the American Baptists over their growing  acceptance of liberal churches and               pastors in the association.

-About 200,000 members


Free Will Baptists

          –Arminian in doctrine

-Christ died for all not just the elect.

-God calls all to repentance and we have the free will to refuse.

-Free will of man is important.

-Open communion

-Mostly located in the South.

-Foot washing


General Association of Regular Baptists

          –Spit from American Baptist in 1932. Disagreed with liberal teaching and associations


-They keep to themselves or other churches in their association


-Missions oriented.

-Fundamental and ultra conservative in doctrine and practice.

-Closed communion


Missionary Baptist

-The movement began in 1880, soon after the Civil War. At that time, there were many freed slaves in Baptist churches, and they felt the need to come together in worship and to fulfill the Great Commission.

-Baptism and the Lord’s Supper; only ordained ministers can administer them.

-Generally African American churches

-Many churches call the pastor’s wife the “first lady” of the church.

-May be Charismatic and Pentecostal

-Most Missionary Baptist churches view Sunday as the Christian Sabbath, in which no  work or secular activities should be done.

-“Baptist churches are the only true churches on the earth that have an unbroken lineage of faith, doctrine, practice and history, through the Dark Ages, beyond the origin of Roman Catholicism to the first week of our Lord’s personal ministry. As local congregations . . . our Lord has preserved His church”-Dr. Albert Garner, Defense of the Faith, p. 122

-Over 13 million world wide


Southern Baptists

-When the general public thinks of the Baptists, it usually pictures a Southern Baptist. -They have a strict Biblical interpretation, fundamentalism and high moral requirements

– no dancing drinking, card playing.

-About 30% identify as Reformed / Calvinistic and 30% Arminian

-Very big on missions.

-Big on Sunday School and have a major publishing house for this.

-While each local church is independent, there have very strong ties to their national                      convention.


-About 16 million members,

-The largest Baptist denomination.

-The largest Protestant denomination in the United States.

-Does not considered tongues or other Charismatic/Pentecostal beliefs and practices to be

in accordance with Scriptural teaching.


Prominent Leaders:


 Brethren Church


The Brethren church tradition traces its roots back over 300 years to 1708 when it was a time of strong governmental control of the church and low tolerance for religious diversity. a group of eight Christians organized themselves under the leadership of Alexander Mack (1679–1735) into a church and baptized one another in Schwarzenau, Germany.


Although the movement was active exclusively within Lutheranism, it had a tremendous impact on Protestantism worldwide, particularly in North America and Europe.


They are historically Anabaptists.

  • Hold to Believers baptism rather than infant baptism


The first congregation in the New World was organized at Germantown, Pa., in 1723.


In 1781 these Brethren adopted the title German Baptist Brethren, and in 1782 the Brethren forbade slaveholding by its members.


In the late 1800’s to early 1900’s they had a few splits.  With the Church of the Brethren being the largest group in 1908.


Their emphasis is on inner spiritual life, piety, cultivated in prayer, bible study and fellowship.

-Local church is central


# People:

  • 23,000 in the US


How Governed


  • The term “minister” is a functional role rather than an hierarchical position of authority.
  • Paid professional pastors are the predominant model, although many congregations still have “free” (nonsalaried) ministers and plural ministry.



  • Brethren doctrine centers on Jesus Christ as the living Word of God.
  • The Scriptures of both Testaments are the inspired Word of God, authoritative, trustworthy, and true in every respect.
  • The New Testament, witnessing to the climax of that history, is the final rule of faith and life for the church.
  • As an expression of grateful love to God, Brethren believe and obey the Bible, for only the written Word reveals to us Jesus Christ, the living Word.




  • The Bible reveals one true and living God in three equal persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
  • This one God is eternal, infinite, personal, and perfect.
  • The trinity
  • In holy love, the triune God by an act of sovereign will, created the universe and all living things. In this activity, as in everything touching the world of space and time, all three persons of the Godhead participated.
  • Scripture reveals the first person of the trinity as the Father.



  • The second person of the trinity is the Son.
  • He is the living Word, the revelation and revealer of the unseen Father.
  • Although He possessed the divine nature from eternity, the Word became flesh for us and for our salvation.
  • He was born of a virgin and lived the perfect human life upon earth.
  • His obedient life led to His sacrificial death in fulfillment of prophecy.
  • Upon the cross He bore sin and its penalty in our place.
  • He was raised and glorified in the body in which He suffered and died. He ascended as Lord and Savior into heaven, where He continually intercedes for those who are His and from which He will return in glory.
  • Therefore He is the source of eternal salvation for all who believe in Him, submitting to His Lordship.


Holy Spirit:

  • The third person of the triune God is the Holy Spirit.
  • He was active in creation, the history of Israel, the inspiration of Scripture, the ministry of Jesus, and the birth of the church.
  • The Spirit likewise acts today, opening the mind to understand Scripture, calling forth the response of repentance and faith, and giving the desire and ability to grow in Christlikeness.
  • The New Testament portrays His activity as both event and process: It describes the event using the terms receiving, being filled, sealed, and baptized to indicate that the Holy Spirit comes to the believer at conversion.
  • It describes the process as the Holy Spirit filling and equipping Christians at numerous times for special tasks.
  • He joins them to Christ’s church, directs them to a local congregation of believers, and bestows on them spiritual gifts for the church’s ministry.
  • The Spirit’s indwelling is to make a visible difference in the lives of Christians as they yield to, and cooperate with, His transforming power.



How Saved:

  • God created humanity, male and female, in His own image with freedom to obey or disobey Him. As a result of their disobedient choice, sin entered our race and its effects of guilt and corruption have passed on to every person.
  • The image of God, though not destroyed, is now distorted. Sin dwells in all people, making them unable to please God or to escape its power in their lives.
  • The penalty of sin is death, but a new, right relationship with God is promised to those who accept life in Christ Jesus.
  • Salvation is both an event and a process: it is an accomplished fact, a continuing walk, and a future hope.
  • Always the gift of God, salvation is received by repentance from sin and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, both witnessed to through water baptism.
  • In faithfulness to His promises, God adopts believers as His children, forgiving their sins and giving them His Holy Spirit.
  • They in turn demonstrate their faith by obeying the commands of Christ and following His example in daily living.

After Life:

  • By the sending of His Son, God inaugurated the last days. Therefore the church waits eagerly for the consummation of the divine plan in Christ.
  • Prior to that, the human body at death returns to the dust from which it came. The soul of the Christian goes immediately to be with the Lord, while the souls of the unsaved enter into torment.
  • The climax of God’s plan will include the personal, visible return of Jesus Christ from heaven as King of kings and Lord of lords; the bodily resurrection and judgment of believers unto eternal life; the bodily resurrection and judgment of the wicked unto eternal punishment; and a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness dwells, where the saved will live eternally with the Lord.
  • The Bible does not focus so much on the details and order of final events as on how believers are to live in light of these things.



  • The church worships when believers gather to praise and honor the living God. His nature and works call forth responses of reverence, submission, adoration, and celebration.
  • True worship glorifies God and renews His people.
  • Anointing with oil for healing
  • Anointing and laying on of handshave also been used for other purposes, such as consecrating someone for missions or other special service.
  • Believer’s baptism. The mode of baptism is trine (three times) immersion in a forward direction in the Name of the Father, and in the name of the Son, and in the name of the Holy Spirit. This is followed by laying on of hands for the impartation of the Holy Spirit.

Often called ‘dunkers’ because they baptize by immersion and ‘dunk’ people three                       times.

·        Love feast. The Brethren love feast is a conscious imitation of Jesus’ last supper with his disciples. It begins with foot washing symbolizing humility and service. They then share a meal, symbolizing fellowship. Finally, they share the bread and cup communion (using unfermented red grape juice), symbolizing participation in Christ’s suffering and death. There may also be hymns and a sermon, as well as a preliminary time of self-examination. Usually women and men sit at different tables, but churches differ on this.

Congregations typically hold love feast on Maundy Thursday and again about six months later.

  • Lord’s Supper: Some congregations have bread-and-cup communion periodically during regular worship services.
  • Women cover their head in church
  • No formal OFFERING taken, there is a box in the rear of the Worship Center.


Other Beliefs:

  • Arminian
  • They do not emphasize rigid doctrinal standards.
  • Three negatives

Obedience to Christ is the center of Brethren life. This conviction has led the Brethren historically to practice non-conformity, non- resistance, and non-swearing.

-In non-conformity, Brethren have sought to follow the way of Christ in contrast to  the way of the world.

-In non-resistance, Brethren have renounced the Christian’s use of violence in combating evil, striving, as far as possible, to be reconciled to all persons.

-In non-swearing, Brethren have sought to lead such trustworthy Christian lives that oath-taking becomes unnecessary.

  • Military and non-violence

It is part of the Peace Church movement. But they allow non-combatant military chaplains.


Major Divisions:

  • Evangelical United Brethren… later joined with the Methodist Church in 1968 to form the United Methodist Church.


  • Grace Brethren



  • Plymouth Brethren (Open Brethren)

-A building associated with a group of open brethren is usually called a “Gospel Chapel,” “Gospel Hall,” “Bible Chapel,” “Christian Assembly,”

          -They are generally dispensationalpre-tribulational, and premillennial in their theology.

Most teach the “Eternal Security” with each believer being subject to “grace” and not “law

-They have traditionally avoided crosses displayed inside or outside their place of   worship. As the focus is on Christ and the Word of God.

-Most Brethren meetings reserve public leadership and teaching roles to men.

-In some churches women are still required to wear a head covering.

-They have a plurality of Elders and it’s usually an elder that preaches… they often do  not have paid pastors.

-They have two meetings (services) on Sunday morning…

-One early just for member primarily to take Communion.

-Then just after that for the general public. (Teaching)

-Use the Darby Bible. (Dispensational)

-Although we look forward to and appreciate the “Public Holidays” throughout the year as providing a good opportunity for family time, in the sense of ‘religious observance” we don’t celebrate any particular holiday. (Generally do not celebrate Christmas or Easter seasons)


  • The Church of the Brethren

-These church bodies became commonly known as “Dunkards”, and more formally as German Baptist Brethren.

-They hold the New Testament as its only creed. Emphasize right living rather than right  doctrine.

-Distinctive practices include believers baptism by trine immersion; a threefold love feast consisting of feet washing, a fellowship meal, and communion; anointing for healing; and the holy kiss.

-In 1948, the Church of the Brethren joined the World Council of Churches as a charter member and was a forming member of the National Council of Churches in 1950.


-In 1728, Conrad Beissel, a Brethren minister from Lancaster County, PA renounced his association with the Brethren and formed his own group in Ephrata, Pennsylvania. They came to be known as the Ephrata Cloister. Beissel practiced a mystical form of Christianity. He encouraged celibacy and a vegetarian diet.


Prominent Leaders:


Categories: Small Group, The Church & Denominations