Baptist churches are found in almost every country in the world. As part of the world-wide Christian church, Baptists form one of the largest families of faith, alongside other trinitarian Christian traditions such as Anglicans, Methodists, Reformed, etc.
For Baptists the concept of a family is important. The church is not so much a particular place or building, but rather a family of believers, committed to Christ, to one another and to the service of God in the world.
In this Baptist family everybody is equal, for everybody has a part to play in the service of God. There is no hierarchy of bishops or priests exercising authority over their members. Equality of status, however, does not mean that all have the same role.
Each local Baptist church appoints its own leaders – or ministers – to have particular responsibility for preaching, teaching and pastoral care. Working alongside these ministers are also deacons, who together with the minister(s) form the leadership team of the local Baptist church.
Baptists are grass-roots people, with a particular emphasis on the local church. These local churches are self-governing and self-supporting, ranging in size from twenty or so members to many hundreds. Although each Baptist church is an independent entity, Baptists nonetheless have always believed in associating with one another – and so the churches come together in regional, national and international spheres to promote and support the fellowship of Baptists everywhere.
Baptists also play their part ecumenically through membership with Churches Together in England, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI), Cytun (Churches Together in Wales), the Conference of European Churches and the World Council of Churches (WCC).
The Baptist way of being the church is living together in community; in a family, if you like.