CHURCH GOVERNANCE 1: What constitutes a local church?

The lack of clarity as to what constitutes a local church prompted leaders at the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board and North American Mission Board to study the issue during the past year with each entity drawing from the Baptist Faith & Message as a doctrinal foundation.



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Southern Baptists through their mission boards expect missionaries to uphold biblically accurate models of how churches are governed when encouraging new church plants.

The International Mission Board drafted a definition and guidelines for local churches in January while the North American Mission Board approved a 34-page document last fall to guide church planters.

“It is important that the North American Mission Board have a very clear statement of what we see to be a Baptist church,” stated NAMB President Robert E. (Bob) Reccord, noting that NAMB starts 1,500 new Southern Baptist churches yearly. He told trustees the document was needed because some non-biblical church models were rapidly proliferating across the country.

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