1. The local church
We believe the local church to be an assembly of people who have recognized Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord and who have shown by their baptism their
commitment to serve him, in fellowship with their brethren. Each local church, according to the resources given to it by its Lord and its own particular circumstances,
must participate in the building up of the Body of Christ by helping Christians to grow in faith and in holiness. By its life and the life of its members, the local church
bears witness to the grace of God and celebrates his glory by its worship. It preaches the Gospel and cultivates a missionary vision. Attentive to the needs of the
world around, it does its best to meet them wisely, in a spirit of compassion and generosity. The local church has only one Lord, Jesus Christ. It is autonomous and
answerable before God for its own life, independent of all other religious authority. Yet it cannot live in isolation and must, as far as possible, seek out and maintain
fraternal relations with other churches that share the same faith. The Association Évangélique d'Églises Baptistes de Langue Française5 is, for its member churches, a
special place where they can enjoy mutual dependence and solidarity that respect their personality. We believe churches must be separate from the State. Christians
submit to the civil authorities except if it should happen that the authorities attempt to force them to act against their conscience. Christians intercede for the
authorities in the interests of peace, justice and freedom.
We believe that every Christian is called to use the gifts he has received from God in the service of others. According to the New Testament the leadership of the
church is entrusted to people who may be called by different names: elders, pastors, leaders, etc. Together they ensure the quality of the church's teaching and
spiritual life. They never lord it over their brethren, they try to be examples of Christian living, ever mindful that they must give account of their service before God.
The local church has other leaders to help it fulfill its different tasks. It is the church's responsibility to discern the people best fitted by their abilities and their
character to fulfill these tasks. Whatever their function, those who are entrusted with a task carry it out under the responsibility of the church in a spirit of
humility, wisdom and love.
It is the privilege of church members to support those who serve the church, to help
them in their task and to show them love and respect because of the work they do.
We believe the local church to be sovereign in every aspect of its spiritual life. This sovereignty expresses itself in properly convened members' meetings where the
church tries to discern how best to fulfill its God-given calling in the light of Scripture and in obedience to Jesus Christ. Every member serves that calling according to
his means and abilities.
The local church decides on the admission of new members. Joining the church creates among all the members a unity that implies shared duties and privileges.
We believe that the Bible teaches us to respect the rights of the individual conscience. No religious conviction can therefore be obtained by force. No one can join a
local church except by informed choice. Everyone is free to leave a church if he so desires. One of the church's responsibilities is to help each of its members to grow
in spiritual maturity by the teaching of the Word of God and by encouragement. But attitudes or opinions may be found in the church that manifestly and seriously
contradict the Gospel. The local church may in that case find itself obliged to solemnly warn and then exclude those of its members whose lives belie their profession
of faith, or who manifestly are no longer interested in its life, and who reject the exhortations they are given. They must still enjoy the kindness and care of those
whose painful duty it was to exclude them. They can be readmitted to the church, if they so wish, if they can be seen to have changed.
Conscious of the high calling that God has given us, and of the great hope that is part of it, we commit ourselves to the care of him who is able to do immeasurably
more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. TO HIM BE GLORY IN THE CHURCH AND IN CHRIST JESUS (Ephesians 3.20-21).