We always look for country churches on our drives and we always find some. More often than not the church is called a "baptist" church. I put the word in quotes because there is no true definition of a baptist church. There is an organization called the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and many churches do belong to it. In recent years, many churches have dropped out of the SBC because of its continued doctrine that homosexuality is sinful and the church leaders must be males. Even within the SBC individual churches are pretty much autonomous.
Many, if not most of the country baptist churches in the mountains are truly autonomous and do not belong to any specific organization. In fact, there is nothing to prohibit anyone from forming a church and calling it a baptist church.
Almost all of the different baptist churches do have certain beliefs in common:
- There is no infant baptism. Baptism is conducted only when the person has achieved an age of accountability and professes faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.
- The baptism is by total immersion. Many churches have a baptistry pool but some still baptize in local streams and lakes.
- Life begins at conception, thus abortion is the taking of a life.
- God planned for marriage to be between one man and one woman with a life-long committment to that marriage. Homosexuality is not an acceptable lifestyle.
- Each person has a soul and is totally responsible for it and for accounting to God after death.
- Alcohol should not be taken as a beverage.
- The church governance is male.
- Communion is not held at each service (in fact it may be only four or five times per year). Communion is symbolic and not the true body and blood of Christ.
- Prayer is directed solely to God the Trinity. There is no intercession or communion of saints.
Most baptist churches remain locked except when there are services. One does not typically enter the church for private prayer and worship.
Writer John Grisham once wrote: "I grew up in a very small, close-knit Southern Baptist family where everything was off-limits. So I couldn't wait to get to college and have some fun. And I did for the first two years. And I regret it a lot, because my grades were in terrible shape."