A local Baptist church functions – so far as it’s government is concerned – by the church meeting together under Christ. Christ is the Head of the Church and his will is made plain by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the church meeting happens in the context of worship because the risen Christ is present.
The church meeting is the important occasion when, as individuals and as a community, we submit ourselves to the guidance of the Holy Spirit so that we know what is the mind of Christ. A church meeting then is not simply as a group of people doing business, but rather a group of believers gathered to seek to do the will of Christ for his church in that locality.
A vital church meeting means a vital church community, seeking, expecting and confidently living under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This principle is absolutely important to the local church. It is then not the Church meeting but the Church meeting. It is not therefore the Business Meeting nor even the Church Business Meeting. Matters of business are left rightly to, and are often legally the responsibility of, the deacons and church officers.
Church members meeting together have much more important issues to think and pray about. These will include:
- The membership: accepting new members, transferring out of members who have moved away; news of members absent through illness or other reasons, news of members away from home, news of members known to be in trouble or distress. This provides items for the private prayer life of each individual church member and thereby a deeper caring throughout the whole.
- Evangelism: the church meeting has the responsibility of discerning the will of Christ for effective mission work locally and abroad.
- Concern for church organisations and activities: youth, men’s and women’s groups and so on are discussed to encourage growth.
- Christian citizenship: matters which are relevant to the church and church members in society are discussed and acted on. In particular, from time to time there are issues about which the local MP or Council should learn of the church’s opinion.