Stafford Baptist seeks to model our membership and ministry on the following nine elements of church life. They have been outlined by the 9 Marks ministry but we believe they are scriptural and essential for health and growth in the life of the church.
Expositional preaching is important because God’s Word is what convicts, converts, builds up, and sanctifies God’s people (Heb. 4:12; 1 Pet. 1:23; 1 Thess. 2:13; Jn. 17:17). Preaching that makes the main point of the text the main point of the sermon makes God’s agenda rule the church, not the preacher’s.
II. Biblical Theology
Biblical theology is essential for:Evangelism. The gospel is doctrine. Therefore, sound doctrine is necessary for evangelism.Discipleship. Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth. Your word is truth” (Jn. 17:17). Christians grow by learning and living in light of the truth -- in other words, by sound doctrine.Unity. According to the New Testament, the only true unity is unity in the truth (1 Jn. 1:1-4; 2 Jn. 10-11).Worship. To worship God is to declare his excellencies (1 Pet. 2:9-10) and to exalt him because of who he is (Ps. 29:2). True worship is a response to sound doctrine.
III. The Gospel
A biblical understanding of the gospel is important because the gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, and it is the only way for sinful people to be reconciled to a holy God.
Not only that, but everything in a church flows from its understanding of the gospel, whether preaching, counseling, discipleship, music, evangelism, missions, and on.
A biblical understanding of conversion is important for churches because:It clarifies how churches should exhort non-Christians -- they should call non-Christians to repent of sin and trust in Christ.It reminds churches that they must rely upon God in all of their evangelistic efforts; only he can give new spiritual life.It teaches churches to maintain a sharp distinction between themselves and the world. Church members’ lives should be marked by the fruit of conversion, and churches should admit to baptism and the Lord’s Supper only those who show evidence of conversion.
Churches should evangelize and teach about the Christian life in such a way that the radical nature of conversion is continually emphasized.
VideoWhen a church has an unbiblical understanding of the gospel, they don’t evangelize, they evangelize in misleading or manipulative ways, or they share a message that’s not the gospel.On the other hand, a biblical understanding of evangelism clarifies our role in the mission God has given to the church: we are to preach the good news about what Christ has done and pray that God would bring people to believe it.
Biblical church membership is important because the church presents God’s witness to himself in the world. It displays his glory. In the church’s membership, then, non-Christians should see in the lives of God’s changed people that God is holy and gracious and that his gospel is powerful for saving and transforming sinners.
Think of discipline as the stake that helps the tree grow upright, the extra set of wheels on the bicycle, or the musician’s endless hours of practice. Without discipline, we won’t grow as God wants us to. With discipline, we will, by God’s grace, bear peaceful fruit of righteousness (Heb. 12:5-11).
VideoPromoting biblical discipleship and growth is important because none of us are finished products. Until we die, all Christians will struggle against sin, and we need all the help we can get in this fight.If a church neglects discipleship and growth, or teaches a skewed, unbiblical version of it, it will discourage genuine Christians and wrongly assure false Christians. On the other hand, if a church fosters a culture of Christian discipleship and growth, it will multiply believers’ efforts to grow in holiness.A church that is not growing in the faith will ultimately yield an unhealthy witness to the world.
God gifts churches with elders to:feed God’s sheep God’s word (Jn. 21:15-17),guide the sheep (1 Tim. 4:16; 1 Pet. 5:3, Heb. 13:7),and protect the sheep from attackers (Acts 20:27-29; 2 Tim. 4:3-4; Tit. 1:9),while protecting both themselves and the church through the wisdom of their plurality (Prov. 11:14; 24:6).
The bottom line? Biblical church leadership is important because without it, God’s people are like sheep without shepherds.