The Southern Baptist Convention is a network of nearly 50,000 like-minded churches who have chosen to partner together to make an impact for God’s kingdom. Southern Baptist churches come in all shapes and sizes, but we are unified in our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ among all nations.
What Southern Baptists Believe
Southern Baptists have a confessional statement of faith called The Baptist Faith and Message, which was originally drafted in 1925 with revisions in 1963 and 2000 to address issues brought about by the changing cultural climate of the day. The full Baptist Faith and Message can be read here.
What Southern Baptists Do
Southern Baptists believe that we can accomplish more for God’s kingdom if we work together than we can do on our own. Therefore, Southern Baptist churches cooperate together at the local, state, national, and international levels to proclaim the gospel to a lost and dying world through both word and deed.
How Southern Baptists Are Organized
Every local Southern Baptist church is autonomous, which means that each church has the freedom to govern itself and control its own affairs. No denominational entity (local associations, state conventions, or national entities) can exercise authority over the local church. However, Southern Baptists have voluntarily chosen to combine our efforts at four primary levels: (1) Local, (2) State, (3) National, (4) International.
Local Southern Baptist Efforts
Southern Baptist churches in a local area usually partner together into local associations, such as the Pike Association of Southern Baptists. These associations can vary in size and scope of ministry, but they usually are effective in providing fellowship opportunities among churches, leadership training, missions opportunities, and church planting efforts. In the Pike Association, we focus on three tasks: (1) Church strengthening, (2) Church mobilization, and (3) Church planting.
State Southern Baptist Efforts
In addition to partnering with other churches at the local level, Southern Baptists also partner together at the state level. Currently, there are 42 Baptist conventions throughout the United States. State conventions are similar to local associations in what they offer to churches, but usually on a much larger scale. In addition, state conventions usually include ministries such as Baptist colleges and universities, camps and conference centers, foster and orphan care ministries, and disaster relief. The churches of the Pike Association also belong to the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
National Southern Baptist Efforts
In addition to local and state partnerships, Southern Baptist churches also partner together at the national level through eleven Southern Baptist entities:
- North American Mission Board – which focuses on reaching North America by planting churches (primarily in metropolitan areas), assisting churches in their evangelistic efforts, and providing compassion/relief ministries to people in need.
- Lifeway Christian Resources – focuses on providing biblical resources for churches (such as Sunday School curriculum, discipleship studies, books, leadership training, etc.).
- Guidestone Financial Resources – provides affordable insurance coverage (life and health), retirement plans, and investment opportunities for pastors, churches, and other denominational entities.
- Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission – focuses on assisting churches understand and address the moral and social issues of the day in a biblical manner.
- Southern Baptist seminaries – provides theological education for future pastors and missionaries. Currently, there are six Southern Baptist seminaries located throughout the United States:
- Gateway Seminary (Mill Valley, California)
- Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (Kansas City, Missouri)
- New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (New Orleans, Louisiana)
- Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (Wake Forest, North Carolina)
- Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (Fort Worth, Texas)
- The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Louisville, Kentucky)
International Southern Baptist Efforts
The eleventh and final Southern Baptist entity is the International Mission Board, which coordinates the combined efforts of the nearly 50,000 Southern Baptist churches to reach the nations with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Currently, there are over 3,600 IMB missionaries serving around the globe. In addition, Southern Baptists respond to the physical needs of the world through disaster and hunger relief ministries.
How Southern Baptist Work is Funded
The combined ministries at the local, state, national, and international level described above are all funded by the generosity of Southern Baptist churches. The cooperative efforts at the state, national, and international level are all funded through the giving plan of the Southern Baptist Convention known as the Cooperative Program. After individual church members give their regular tithes and offerings, Southern Baptist churches send a self-determined percentage of their receipts on to the state convention office. The state convention keeps a pre-determined percentage of the receipts for ministry within the state, and then sends the remaining funds on to the national SBC office, which then disperses the funds among the 10 national entities (excluding Lifeway Christian Resources which receives no Cooperative Program funds). For more information about the Cooperative Program, click here.
However, local associations (including the Pike Association) do not receive any Cooperative Program funds. Local associations rely on the generosity of the churches within their association in order to fund their ministries. Most Southern Baptist churches determine a percentage of their undesignated receipts to be sent through the Cooperative Program and a separate percentage to be sent directly to the local Baptist association.
For Further Information
If you would like more information about the work of Southern Baptists, click here.