Different models of government

The Baptist Church

In the Baptist Church everyone is equal. They reject the idea of hierarchy. There are no bishops in the Baptist Church to have authority over everyone else.

In the Catholic Church it is believed that Jesus appointed Church leaders. These leaders then appointed people to take over from them, and this has continued to the present day. Therefore, leaders in the Catholic Church trace their authority back to the apostles.

Baptists reject this idea, believing God is the head of the Church and all members have equal voice.

Baptist government is referred to as congregational. This means that each church is responsible for itself - ie each church is self-governing and every member has a part to play.

When someone becomes a Christian they are encouraged to be baptised and become a member of the Church.

This allows them to have a vote at meetings. It is, therefore, not the pastor or elders who have final say in decisions. Church members decide all aspects of life in their church, including the appointing or removal of the pastor and elders.

That said, Baptists do see the importance of other local churches and are often inter-dependent - ie while they govern themselves, they work with other Baptist churches.