A general convention is a collection of like-minded churches within a state or region that partner together to reach a common goal. For Baptist General Conventions, the goal is to reach more people with the gospel than a single church could reach on its own. Some Baptist General Conventions, such as the ones in Oklahoma and Texas, are also affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Where Baptist General Conventions are predominant within a state, they often operate orphanages, hospitals, low-income housing projects, and retirement villages for former pastors and Baptist leaders.
Each church within a Baptist General Convention (BGC) has chosen to be affiliated with that organization, mostly for the purposes of supporting global missions through its cooperative program. Funds for missions are centralized and funneled through the International Mission Board (IMB) to support Baptist missionaries and programs, both locally and on the foreign field. Through that cooperation, the Baptist General Convention has created and maintained children’s homes, retirement villages, universities, and campground/convention sites that host thousands each year.
The statements of faith in churches affiliated with a Baptist General Convention are considered mainline orthodox Christianity:
1. The nature of God is triune, consisting of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).
2. Jesus Christ is fully God who became also fully man through the virgin birth (Matthew 1:18; Philippians 2:6–11).
3. The sinless Son of God offered Himself as the final sacrifice for the sins of the world (2 Corinthians 5:21).
4. Eternal life and forgiveness of sin are possible only through the process of being born again (John 3:3).
5. At salvation, the Holy Spirit is given to every believer to indwell and empower him to live a godly life (1 Corinthians 6:19).
6. Every human being will stand before God (Romans 14:1).
7. Those without Jesus as their Lord and Savior will be consigned to a place of eternal condemnation called hell (Matthew 25:46).
8. Those who have been born again through faith in Jesus will live forever with Him in eternal glory (Revelation 3:21).
9. Salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned, and we obtain this gift through faith in His Son (Ephesians 2:8–9).
10. Jesus will come back one day to establish His kingdom on a new and restored earth (Revelation 22:12).
While there are Baptist General Conventions in most states, they are found predominately in the South and West, in states such as Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. Since every local church within a Baptist General Convention is independent, some hold more firmly to biblical standards than do others. A few churches have been excommunicated from a Baptist General Convention when they deviated from Baptist doctrine. Others have maintained the name “Baptist” while also including ungodly practices and opinions. So, when searching for a church, it is important to study the lives and teaching of its leadership, rather than merely approving its statement of faith.