In addition to concerns raised in earlier articles, Baptist churches are designed in order to facilitate communication among worshipers and to serve as settings for evangelistic services.
There are considerable resources for black songs among African-American denominations and churches that are now widely available for churches in every tradition. This article is especially helpful in describing the different types of songs that have developed from the black worship tradition.
Although Baptists seek to develop a worship rooted in Scripture, they are more inclined to rely on general principles for guiding worship rather than on literalist models of worship based on Scripture texts alone.
Baptists emerged from a variety of Separatist congregations in seventeenth-century England. While Baptists disagreed theologically on the issue of predestination, they eventually came to share the same form of worship. Like the Congregationalists, Baptists looked to the Bible for their liturgical guidance. At the same time, early Baptists strongly emphasized the leading of the Spirit in worship and avoided a strict structuring of the Sunday service. As the texts below make clear, Baptist liturgical patterns began to solidify on both sides of the Atlantic by the eighteenth century.
Baptists, like the Puritans, desired pure scriptural worship. Early Baptist worship sought to maintain radically biblical worship that the Spirit was free to direct. Later, however, in response to what they considered to be excesses in other movements, Baptists came to place more emphasis on worship according to biblical form and order.f
As time went by sectarian differences became less important and denominations cooperated for such causes as evangelism, social action, and missionary activities.
English and Scottish missions in the late eighteenth and early to mid-nineteenth centuries not only brought the Gospel message, they were also instrumental in fomenting social reforms, bringing medical care, and ending pagan practices that destroyed the lives of women and children.
The opportunity for social gatherings had a powerful appeal to people who were starving for companionship. They were stirred by the evangelistic drive of the preachers, who encouraged emotional expression. The same exhibitions of tearful remorse and exuberant joy that appeared in England under Wesley’s preaching and in the Great Awakening in America appeared on the frontier. Out of the conversions of the camp meetings, the churches gathered recruits and the morals of the region showed dramatic improvement.
In 1707 American Baptists in Philadelphia organized their first association of churches, and other groups of Baptist churches followed their example. They were active in evangelism wherever they went. Through the Philadelphia Association, the South was indoctrinated with Baptist ideas, though the Southern colonies were officially Anglican in religion.
The English Government compelled the colonial Government to be more hospitable to persons who did not conform to colonial Congregationalism. In 1691 the original charter of the colony was taken away and a substitute provided. By that time Baptist and Episcopal churches had been founded in Boston.