CrossLife Bible Fellowship is committed to being a healthy church. We reject church fads obsessed with the numeric size of its membership and techniques to make people feel more comfortable. We believe the following 9 marks are what every healthy church should be marked by and what CrossLife strives to manifest for the glory of God.
Mark 1: Expository Preaching
It is not only the first mark, it's the most important one. If you get this one right, all the others will follow. God's Word comes with every book, chapter and verse because we need all of Scripture and if we need all of Scripture then we need to preach all of Scripture. Only God's Word creates the people of God. God's Holy Spirit creates his people by His Word! We can create people by other means, and this is the great temptation of churches. We can create a people around a certain ethnicity. We can create a people around a fully-graded choir program. We can find people who will get excited about a building project or a denominational identity. We can create a people around a series of care groups, where everyone feels loved and cared for. We can create a people around a community service project. We can create a people around social opportunities for young mothers or Caribbean cruises for singles. We can create a people around men's groups. We can even create a people around the personality of the preacher. And God can surely use all of these things. But in the final analysis the people of God, the church of God, can only be created around the Word of God. Even more than parking and pews and greetings and programs and nursery and music, even more than the preacher, what is most important in a church is what is preached-the Word of God because "man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God"(Matt. 4:4). Only God's Word produces life! This is why expository preaching is the first mark of a healthy church.
Mark 2: Biblical Theology
What is most important in real estate is most important in understanding the Bible: location, location, location. You understand a text of Scripture according to where the text is in the entire context of Genesis to Revelation. A text without a context is a recipe for spiritual delinquency. That's why Christians must know the overarching and unifying theme of the Bible. What is that theme? The one constant theme unfolding throughout the whole Bible is this: God for his own glory has chosen to create and gather to himself a group of people to be the subjects of his eternal kingdom, to praise, honor, and serve him forever and through whom he will display his wisdom, power, mercy, grace, and glory. From predestination to glorification, the Bible is the story of God redeeming his chosen people for the praise of his glory. CrossLife loves every word that proceeds from the of God because every word paints the masterpiece of God's eternal plan of redemption.
Mark 3: The Gospel
Yes, we're victims of a world gone wrong. Yes, we're broken people who need to be healed. But unfortunately our problem is bigger and deeper than that: we're guilty sinners who need to be forgiven. How would God be a just God if he sent victims of society and broken people to hell? God is just in sending people to hell because we are sinners and our sin and rebellion fully deserve God's holy wrath. This is the bad news and the news gets worse. We can't save ourselves. No good work, no amount of tears, and no religious ritual can justify ourselves before God. The world needs a Savior and the good news is that God the Father has provided a Savior for the world. Jesus Christ is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The Father satisfied his justice by having his only Son bear the Father's eternal wrath on the cross for our sins. The Father then raised his Son from the dead three days later to demonstrate that his Son's sacrifice was finished, there's no more guilt to pay, and that the Father fully's accepted his Son's payment for our sins. To any sinner who repents of their sin and puts their faith in Jesus Christ alone receives eternal life paid for on the cross. This is the good news of the gospel! CrossLife is committed to knowing, loving and preaching this gospel.
Mark 4: A Biblical Understanding of Conversion
The worst damage a church can do for an individual is to affirm an unsaved person's salvation. However the person might feel positively in this lifetime pales in comparison to what he or she will experience in eternal judgment. Many churches are guilty of promoting unclear or false impressions of an individuals standing with God because of the confusion regarding the nature of conversion. Thoughtless assurance by pastors that church members are Christians may seem charitable at first, it may lead to short bursts of excitement, involvement and interest but if an apparent conversion does not result in a changed life, who can doubt the unwitting cruelty of convincing people that because they once prayed a prayer, they have fully investigated all the hope that God has for them. "If that failed," we may leave them to think "then Christianity has nothing more to offer me. No more hope. No more life. I tried, and it didn't work." CrossLife seeks to make sure every member has a biblical understanding of conversion.
Mark 5: A Biblical Understanding of Evangelism
Your understanding of conversion will affect the way you understand how you do evangelism. If men and women are morally neutral who make the final decision to choose Christ, then evangelism will reflect that understanding of conversion. Evangelism will then be simply trying people to say yes to a question or to make a one-time decision. There will be a reliance on sales techniques instead of on God's sovereign grace through persistent prayer. The result of shallow evangelism is a church filled with unbelievers. We need to see an end to the bad fruit of false evangelism. We need to see an end to worldly people having assurance that they're saved just because they once took a stand, shook a hand, or repeated prayers. Biblical evangelism is a full dependence on the sufficiency of the Gospel proclaimed and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit through the faithful witness of church members.
Mark 6: A Biblical Understanding of Church Membership
Did you know that you have particular responsibilities as a member of a local church? Christian discipleship happens in a framework church of membership or it doesn't really happen. In this past century, Christians have all but ignored biblical teaching on the corporate nature of following Christ. Our churches are awash in self-centered narcissism and hyper-individualism. But Scripture makes it clear that God never intended for Christians to be alone and that our love for others who aren't just like us shows whether we truly love God. At CrossLife, membership means something. We're responsible for each other, we keep each other accountable, we serve each other, we validate the genuineness of a person's profession of faith as we do life together, we pray for each other, and we do not forsake the assembly of the saints. In other words, we glorify Christ in greater ways as a church than we do as separate individuals. Scripture calls for believers to not merely attend a church but to join a church. Link arms with other Christians. Find a church you can join, and do it so that non-Christians will hear and see the gospel, so that weak Christians will be cared for, so that strong Christians will channel their energies in a good way, so that church leaders will be encouraged and helped, and so that God will be glorified. Are you a committed member of a healthy church?
Mark 7: Biblical Church Discipline
A church must decide whether it will allow hypocrites to remain hypocrites among God's people or to exercise church discipline. The practice of church discipline recognizes that there may be times when drastic action is called for because of our indwelling sin. These times call for the church's help. We cannot live the Christian life alone. Our purpose in church discipline is positive for the individual disciplined, for other Christians as they see the real danger of sin, for the health of the church as a whole, and for the corporate witness of the church to those outside. To many Christians in the past, a church without discipline would hardly have counted as a church. When a church doesn't have discipline, a church really doesn't have Christ. If we can't say what something is not, we can't very well say what it is. If we give up the ability to say what a Christian is not, we cannot meaningfully say what a Christian is. A church's holiness is to reflect the holiness of God. It should mean something to be a member of the church, not for our pride's sake but for God's name's sake. God is glorified when church members keep each other accountable.
Mark 8: A Concern for Discipleship and Growth
Evangelism that does not result in discipleship is not only incomplete evangelism but is entirely misconceived. The Great Commission of the church found in Matthew 28 is a commission to make disciples teaching them to obey all that Christ has commanded. To grow as a Christian is very important. This is how we give testimony to God. A healthy church has a pervasive concern with church growth-not simply growing numbers but growing members. A church full of growing Christians is the kind of church growth every Christian should want to be a part of. Some today seem to think that one can be a "baby Christian" for a whole lifetime. Growth is seen to be an optional extra for particularly zealous disciples. But Scripture teaches us that growth is a sign of life. Growing trees are living trees, and growing animals are living animals. When something stops growing, it dies. Spiritual growth is not optional; it is vital, because spiritual growth indicates life. Things that are truly alive, grow. At CrossLife, we want you grow!
Mark 9: Biblical Church Leadership
Leadership in the church should not be granted as a response to secular gifts or position, to family relationships, or in recognition of length of service in the church. Leadership in the church should be invested in those who seem to evidence in their own lives, and who are able to promote in the life of the congregation as a whole, the edifying and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. The NT understanding of biblical leadership is very simple. A plurality of elders lead the church (pastors and elders are the same office in the NT), the deacons support and facilitate the leadership of the elders, and the congregation humbly submits to the elder's leadership, holding the elders accountable ultimately to the final authority of Scripture. This is a tremendous call that God has given us, to recognize and respect godly authority in the church. This is a sign of a healthy church and of healthy Christians.