On organizations of the Baptist church in america over the centuries has become highly defused. The Baptist group in America is divided, consisting of churches, associations or conventions. Making up the largest Protestant group, sources say with at least 27-65 different Baptist groups in the U.S, many are independent Baptist churches.
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) consisting of over 42,000 churches involving 16 million members in the United States is the biggest.
Coming in behind is the American Baptist Convention which formed after the split with the Southern Baptists and formerly known as the Northern Baptist Convention. Around 1.3 million members in the US.
The American Baptists Convention allow the freedom of the individual churches to have differing beliefs. Their unity is based on functional cooperation rather than belief in teaching.
Local Baptist churches are self governing, but they are tied to associations or conventions. Diverse groups of these associations help in promoting good fellowship, beliefs studied and missionary work These groups meet often with their spokesperson representing all Baptist churches in the given area, local and state.
Recommendations are suggested with assembled Reports, but no authority of governing in a local church is allowed.
Local Baptist churches tend to rule themselves. In church affairs all members have equal voting rights, but probably the majority of the members would rule. In some churches they have to be over a certain age to participate.
The name pastor comes up with some churches having a preacher known as a pastor. Interestedly the name pastor comes up only once in the KJV and NASB bible Ephesians 4:11 (KJV)
- 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
- 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
- 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
Ephesians 4:11 is talking about the special gifts God gave certain men before the New Testament was written. Note, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets;”, we don’t have apostles and prophets in this day and age, we have the New Testament for guidance with its teachings.
These special gifts, prophecies, tongues, and knowledge, to be done away With, 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 (NASB)
- 8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.
- 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part;
- 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.
When the New Testament was put together which is perfect those special gifts were done away with.
These special gifts were needed in the beginning of the church to get it started and functioning. After that the New Testament was assembled which took the place of the special gifts.
The Greek word poimeen. Poimen rendered pastor in Ephesians 4:11 is shepherd in 9 places in the gospels and refers to Christ metaphorically in: Matthew 26:31; Mark 14:27; John 10:11,14,16; Hebrew 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25;.
Pastor in Ephesians 4:11 is a special gifts God gave certain men before the New Testament was written.
No place of authority is given for that title to act in a capacity or rule in a local congregation. Men qualified to be bishops or elders have the authority to govern only a local church. Scriptural authority, know that only men are qualified to be bishops 1 Timothy 3:1-7, elders Titus 1:5-8, overseers, Acts 20:28.
Elders to govern a local church only. 1 Peter 5:1-3 (KJV)
- 1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
- 2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
- 3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock.