580 Sonoma Mountain Pkwy,
Petaluma, CA 94954

What We Practice

Like every Christian church, we are dedicated to the core Christian tasks of discipleship, community, worship, service and mission. Here are some of our distinctives when it comes to living out our faith together.

1. The Authority of the Bible in Our Lives

  • Since God’s Word is the only completely reliable and truthful authority, we accept the Bible as our manual for living. Our first question when faced with a decision is “What does the Bible say?” We practice daily Bible reading, Bible study, and Bible memorization. The Bible is the basis of all we believe.
  • “And how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15) 

2. The Ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper

  • Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are visible symbols and public ceremonies that Jesus ordained for the church to carry out. These “ordinances” don’t play a role in our salvation, but they are outward expressions of our inward faith.
    • Baptism is a washing, an immersion into water. It marks our symbolic participation in the death and resurrection of Jesus and is an expression of our conversion. It is our formal declaration of allegiance to Jesus and publicly signifies our entry into the people of God.
    • Our Baptist Distinctives:
      • Baptism by immersion (i.e., we dunk and never sprinkle)
      • Believer’s baptism (i.e., we don't baptize babies)
      • Why? Because it is what we see in the Bible.
    • “We were buried therefore with him in baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)
    • The Lord’s Supper (or communion) is a meal, a reminder, and a proclamation of faith. It is reserved for the people of God and is approached with preparation (namely, self-examination, the confession of sins, recommitment, and the restoration of relationships).
    • Our Baptist Distinctives:
      • An act of remembrance, not a communication of grace
      • Liberty in regards to when and how often it is observed
    • “For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’” (1 Corinthians 11:23-25)

3. The Priesthood of Every Believer

  • The Bible teaches that every Christian is called to “full-time” Christian service, regardless of his or her vocation. We practice the truth that every believer is a minister by encouraging every member to find a place of service and ministry. Every believer has direct access to God through prayer and Bible reading.
  • “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)

4. Telling Others About Christ

  • It is the responsibility of every Christian to share the gospel, the good news, with those with whom God brings us into contact. We practice personal sharing about Jesus and our own testimonies as well as inviting friends to church.
  • “But in your hearts, honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15)

5. The Autonomy of Each Local Church

  • Christ is the recognized head of our church, not any person, group, or religious organization. While recognizing the value of associating and cooperating with other groups of Christians, we believe every local church should be self-governing and independent from any denominational control and encouraged to determine its own strategy, structure, and style.
  • “And [Jesus] is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.” (Colossians 2:12)
    • PVBC is formally affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the world’s largest Baptist denomination and largest Protestant body in the United States, with 50,000 affiliated churches and more than 15 million members. While the SBC plays no governing role in the life of our church, we are in friendly cooperation with the Convention and sympathetic with its purposes and work. We support The Baptist Faith and Message as our statement of faith and contribute annually to SBC causes and affiliates, such as California Southern Baptist Disaster Relief and the SBC’s Cooperative Program, which supports over 7,200 missionaries in 153 countries around the world.

6. Tithing

  • We practice tithing for the support of Christ’s body, the church as God commands. We recognize that giving 10% of our income is the biblical standard of giving.
  • “Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord.” (Leviticus 27:30)