Is it true that the Southern Baptist denomination marks no distinction between member and non-member, Christian or non-Christian, in that everyone is encouraged to participate in the events (sitting in the sanctuary during worship service, engaging in Bible Study groups, participating in charities, going to Sunday school, donating money to charity programs, etc.)? Or does this behavior vary from congregation to congregation (since the entire denomination operates on a congregational level by direct democracy), where some congregations may be more open to outsiders and some congregations may only reserve activities for believers or for members only, but the only difference between a member and non-member is that the member is allowed to vote and assume leadership? So, a person can be a regular churchgoer, hearing the sermons every week and sending the children to Sunday school, and not really become a member or become baptized until the person chooses to assume leadership in the church community?

I suspect that it all boils down to the Baptist belief that baptism is the outward sign of inward conversion. Therefore, a person may choose to remain unbaptized or not officially become a member, unless the person wants to assume leadership roles, such as deacon.

2 Answers 2


No (though it does vary by church)

One very influential Southern Baptist church is Capitol Hill Baptist Church, where Mark Dever is the Senior Pastor. Dever is well known as the author of Nine Marks of a Healthy Church (and founder of the associated ministry). One of the nine marks is church membership, in a much more prominent way than I've heard of in any other church. Read more here: http://www.9marks.org/what-are-the-9marks/membership

Membership in churches that take the approach of 9Marks is about members committing themselves to the church and the authority of its leaders - they are saying that they desire and are willing to submit themselves to church discipline, if that unfortunately is needed in the future. Voting is probably also linked with membership, but the main purpose of membership is discipline, not voting.

Membership would never be required to attend those churches, nor to participate in most of its activities. Membership may be required for positions of leadership, but that's common in many churches, not just baptist ones. But if you regularly attended the church and participated in a bible study or something else but hadn't yet been a member you would probably feel a lot of pressure to to do, because refusing to become a member would be seen as defying the church leadership, which the Bible says we must not do, such as in Hebrews 13:17, among other places.


Not all Baptist Churches belong to the Southern Baptist Convention, and so your question About Southern Baptist Churches needs a little more definition, However as a general rule it is a basic concept of the Baptist that the primary mission of the Church is to spread the Gospel, and therefore the sermons are never just for those who are already converts. And in keeping with that concept our services are open to anyone and everyone.

We welcome the beggar as well as the Rich man out of love, as we believe that was the central message from or LORD.

You will also find that in keeping with, you will find that in almost every Baptist church the sermon will end with an invitation.

Members of the Southern Baptist convention agreed to follow the rules of the SBC.

You find more information at the Southern Baptist convention website, its home site.

The SBC is a parent organization, and the individual states have their own convention.

Even though individual states have some differing rules, some basic rules apply to all southern Baptist convention churches.

  1. Only those who had been converted are supposed to partake of the Lord's supper.

  2. Only members are supposed to vote on accepting a new member, or adopting or rejecting doctrine changes.

We welcome any and all and the more visitors we have the better we like it.

  • Whoever down voted my answer needs to review the SBC Statement of belief. As a former Church clerk I assure you that this is in keeping with the ABC and the Texas SBC. You are free to disagree with me, but I challenge you to first consult the appropriate directives.
    – BYE
    Feb 16, 2014 at 13:41

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