These churches started to appear in the late 1800's and early 1900's when national Baptist denominations and conventions in the United States and England started moving in the directions of liberalism and humanism. Weakening beliefs in these denominations about core Christian doctrines such as the infallability of the Bible, the nature of God and Jesus, and separation from worldliness caused the more conservative local churches to react by separating from these denominations. Many joined new denominations that were more conservative in their beliefs. However, many did not join any particular denomination and remained "independent", because of the belief that denominations were not supported in scripture. These local churches then set about establishing more independent Baptist churches.
In beliefs, most Independent Baptist churches support the core beliefs that most Baptist churches support with some variation:
B - The Bible is the final authority for what they believe and what they do.
A - The Autonomy of the Local Church.
P - The Priesthood of the Believer.
T - There are Two Ordinances: Baptism and the Lord's Supper.
I - The Individual's Soul Liberty.
S - The membership is made exclusively of Saved and baptized individuals.
T - There are only Two offices which guide the church: Pastors (Bishops or Elders are other names for this office) and the deacons.
S - The Separation of Church and State.
Many Independent Baptist churches have standardized on Bible translations based on the Textus Receptus (Received Text) Greek New Testament and the Masoretic (non Biblia hebraica or Leningrad Text) Hebrew Old Testament. These translations include the older Authorized King James Version (KJV) in English and the Reina-Valera in Spanish due to the belief that newer Bible versions have various problems in text and translation. (See also: King James Only Movement)
Many Independent Baptist churches are more conservative in their beliefs and styles of worship and reject many things popular in most denominational churches because of an association with worldliness and appeal to the flesh. Therefore, they do not support the use of contemporary Christian music based on rock and roll. They may also reject the contemporary dress styles such as pants on women or long hair on men. Many also tend to oppose going to movie theaters.
Many Independent Baptist churches have very organized outreach ministries such as weekly "soul winning", where groups go and evangelize areas surrounding the church building and present the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-9) to those that are unsaved (have not believed the Gospel and trusted Jesus Christ's death on the cross as payment for their sins). Many churches will also have bus ministries where buses drive to surrounding areas to bring people to the churches' services. Street Preaching (open-air preaching of the Gospel in a public setting such as a park or street corner), prison ministries, and the sending of missionaries or evangelists to other parts of the country or to other countries to start more local churches, are other outreach ministries that an Independent Baptist church may engage in.
Because of the very nature of independence, any generalizations of what independent Baptists believe are subject to exceptions.