As we seek to faithfully undertake the incredible mission God has given us, there is a diversity of ministry approaches among the growing number of local churches within the Crossway Network. We celebrate the variety of ways each church carries out the Great Commission. However, there are three central elements of ministry shared by all Crossway churches, which create a common ministry culture and “DNA” throughout the Network:
Crossway is committed to the foundational truths of historical Orthodox Christianity as reflected in the Nicene and Apostle’s Creeds. In addition to our foundational Statement of Faith, the family of churches in the Crossway Network are committed to the following biblical positions:
GOD’S WORD – OUR AUTHORITY FOR LIFE AND MINISTRY
The Bible, as God’s Word, is the ultimate authority over humanity and we embrace it as our final authority for life and ministry. It is the only infallible, inspired without error, word of God. It speaks to every issue of life for God’s people (1 Timothy 3:16-17, Hebrews 4:12).
SALVATION – GOD, THE AUTHOR FROM START TO FINISH
Salvation is a work of God, received by grace (unearned favor) through faith. Through believing and receiving Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection in our place, we are saved and sustained unto eternal life. Because of the sinful condition of man’s heart, God has to initiate, accomplish and sustain the salvation of individuals (Ephesians 2:1-10, John 6:44). We hold to a Reformed view of God’s sovereignty in salvation.
SANCTIFICATION – THE FRUIT OF TRANSFORMING GRACE
The life that is genuinely transformed by the gospel will show the growing fruit of obedience empowered by the Holy Spirit as he permanently indwells Jesus’ followers. Because God saves us apart from any works (Titus 3:5), and because of the promises in Scripture regarding God’s character, we believe once a person is truly born again, he is eternally secure (John 10:26-30, Romans 8:29-39). The reality of a person’s salvation will be shown through the progressive transformation of their lives into greater likeness to Jesus (Galatians 5:16-25,1 John 2:3-4).
THE LOCAL CHURCH – A COMMUNITY ON MISSION
God’s design is for local communities of growing believers to be intimately involved in one another’s lives as they intentionally live out the mission of Christ. The local church is the biblical context for the Great Commission of Matthew 28. The New Testament demonstrates God’s strategy for evangelizing the world is to empower individuals in the local church to live on mission and multiply churches. The local church is the primary community through which God accomplishes His plan on earth (Matthew 9:37-38; 16:13-18; 28:18-20; Luke 10:1-3; Acts 1:8; 2:41-43; 8:1-3; 11:22-26; 13:1-3; 14:21-28; 15:2-4, 22-36; 18:22; 20:17, 28, 32; 21:18-19; Philippians 1:27; 2:12-16).
THE LOCAL CHURCH – PLURALITY IN LEADERSHIP
God’s design for leadership in any local church is a plurality of biblically qualified (in character and competence), mutually accountable men who shepherd, equip, and oversee the spiritual health of the body (Acts 14:23; 20:17, 28; Ephesians 4:11-13; Titus 1:5) These men understand they are simply under-shepherds of the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ (1 Peter 5:1-5).
SPIRITUAL GIFTS – SPIRIT EMPOWERED AND BIBLICALLY GROUNDED
The scriptures teach the Spirit gives every believer supernatural gifts for the purpose of building up his church and expanding his kingdom (1 Corinthians 12:27). God demonstrates his supernatural power through imparting spiritual gifts for the purpose of putting his glory and grace on display in advancing and affirming the gospel message and messenger. (Matthew 19:23-26; James 5:13-18; Romans 8:28; 12:3-8). Spiritual gifts are not for self-edification or self-expression but for the edification of others (1 Corinthians 12:7; 14:3, 12, 17, 20-25, 26, 31) and much of the misuse and confusion surrounding “sign” oriented gifts is based upon a wrong view that spiritual gifts are for performance, when in reality they exist for service (1 Peter 4:10-11). While we do not believe supernatural gifts have ceased, we do believe their prominence in the New Testament was due to the unique role they played in authenticating the gospel message being handed down by the apostles (2 Corinthians 12:12, Hebrews 2:3-4).
COMPLEMENTARY DESIGN OF MEN & WOMEN – EQUAL IN VALUE, DISTINCT IN ROLES
God has created men and women equal in value yet complementary in design. This complementary design is beautiful and should be celebrated. However, because of the sinfulness of mankind, God’s design has been perverted and used to justify abuse throughout history. The church should be a place where the wonder of his design is rediscovered, enjoyed, and put on display to the watching world. God’s created design is articulated at the dawn of creation in the first two chapters of Genesis before the fall of mankind into sin.
Complementary design of roles starts with God creating men and women equal (Genesis 1:27) but with different roles (Genesis 2:18). Men and women are equally, wonderfully, and uniquely gifted by God for His glory through the church, including areas of leadership and teaching. We champion women’s ministry where mature, gifted, and qualified women are leading and teaching other women, children and in other areas of significant influence for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 12:4-7; Titus 2:3-5).
Our commitment to biblical complementary design recognizes that God has made men and women different and distinct for his glorious kingdom purposes. A man is called to intentionally embrace biblical headship in his home through sacrificial leadership that guides in God-glorifying direction (1 Corinthians 11:3, 8-12, 1 Corinthians 14:33-40; Ephesians 5:22-23; Colossians 3:18-19; 1 Peter 3:1-7). In addition, leadership over the church family as a whole is to be led by men who are gifted, qualified, and called to be the church’s pastors (1 Timothy 2:18-25, 3:1-2, Titus 1:5-6).
CHURCH DISCIPLINE – PROTECTION AND RESTORATION
God has provided instructions for church restoration to lovingly keep individual believers from being ensnared by Satan and to maintain the purity of Jesus’ Church. The Bible teaches that church discipline is to be used as a process to carefully and lovingly shepherd individuals who are stuck in unrepentant sin (Matthew 18:15-18). The goal of church discipline is two-fold. First, it aims to restore the individual who persists in unrepentant sin. Second, it protects the church family (1 Corinthians 5:1-8, Galatians 6:1, Hebrews 3:12-13).
Crossway Network churches are free to have unique expressions of ministry as they seek to be faithful to the Great Commission in their communities. Along with the unique qualities of each local church, every church in the Network is also committed to the following values for mission and ministry:
GLORY TO GOD – DOING ALL FOR THE SAKE OF HIS NAME
God is supreme (Isaiah 46:9-10). He deserves our entire focus. He alone is worthy of all praise and honor. He is the reason the church exists. We seek to lift up the greatness and glory of God in all that we do (Romans 11:33-36) without compromise (Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 40:6-8, 12-17, 21-26; 51:6-7; Psalm 8; 1 Corinthians 3:18-23; 10:31).
GOSPEL CENTRALITY – KEEPING THE GOSPEL FIRST
There is only one gospel (Galatians 1:8) and it is central to all of life and ministry. It is the matter of first importance (1 Corinthians 15:3). The message of the gospel is timeless and unchanging. It is the focus of our daily lives and is the only message of hope for the world (Romans 1:16-17, 5:1-2, 6-11; 8:28-38; 1 Corinthians 1:18-30; 15:1-5; 2 Timothy 1:14).
INTENTIONAL DISCIPLESHIP – MAKING, MATURING, & MULTIPLYING DISCIPLES
We know the church is growing when we see people meeting Jesus Christ and growing in their discipleship. Reaching, leading, and helping people follow Jesus is the heart of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). As a result, our focus is on reaching people with the good news of the gospel. We desire church growth through people experiencing genuine conversion as new creations in Jesus Christ. Our churches do not seek the kind of growth that happens when people simply transfer from another church. We realize that God, in his sovereignty, may call other Christians to leave their existing church and begin serving and growing in a Crossway Network church. We welcome these people as their hearts resonate with our vision and if they have sought to preserve the unity of the church they came from (Matthew 4:19; Luke 19:10; John 17:18; Acts 2:39-42; 1 Corinthians 9:19-22; 2 Corinthians 5:18-22; Colossians 1:3-6; 1 Thessalonians 1:8).
EVERYDAY MISSION – REACHING YOUR WORLD
The gospel message calls people to repent and be reconciled to God (Matthew 4:17, 2 Corinthians 5:17-21). As we seek to proclaim it through our lives and our words (1 Thessalonians 2:8) we need to be wise in our approach (Colossians 4:5). We long to bring it into the world around us with clarity and power. This requires us to understand the cultures in which we live, and to seek to communicate the gospel in a way that connects with the people around us (1 Corinthians 9:19-22). We believe every follower of Jesus should be equipped to actively live out the mission to share the gospel and lead people to Christ. This is often best accomplished when small groups of believers work together to pray and engage those in their spheres of influence (Matthew 4:19; 9:37-10:42; 28:18-20; Luke 10:1-24; Colossians 4:2-6; 1 Peter 1:13-16).
BIBLICAL COMMUNITY – LIVING OUT THE “ONE ANOTHERS”
We were created for relationships with both God and one another (Matthew 22:36-40). We believe every Christian needs to experience genuine relationships with others in the body of Christ as a way of life (Acts 2:42-47). These relationships are the primary context in which the “one-anothers” of scripture are experienced. Through these relationships, we learn to become more like Christ through serving others and being served in times of need. This is the true outworking of the New Commandment of Jesus in John 13:34-35. As we love one another, we show the world we are Jesus’ disciples, which allows us to effectively reach others for Christ. The world should be attracted to the love and joy that God’s people have amongst themselves. We are committed to foster these relationships through small group communities (John 13:34-35; 17:13-21; Acts 2:41-47; 1 Corinthians 5:5-6; 12:12-31; Ephesians 2:19; 4:25-32; James 5:16; Hebrews 3:13-14; 10:19-25).
TEAM LEADERSHIP – SERVING TOGETHER IN PLURALITY
We believe each church is to be led by a plurality of godly men who function as pastors (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5-9). We believe the role of pastor to be one and the same with the biblical terms overseer, elder, and bishop (see interchanging use of these terms to refer to a single role in Acts 20:28, 29 and 1 Peter 5:1-4). Among the plurality of pastors, there is recognition of differing giftedness and abilities in leadership that may set some apart from others in function, but not in authority. This may manifest itself, for example, in a “lead pastor” or some other specifically designated “leader among leaders” role (Acts 1:15; 15:13-22; Galatians 2:9; Ephesians 4:11-13; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; 1 Timothy 3; 5:19; Titus 1:5-9; Hebrews 13:17).
EXPOSITIONAL PREACHING – PROCLAIMING THE WORD OF GOD
We believe that God’s word is the best and greatest gift that we have to offer people. We are committed to sound doctrine (1 Timothy 3:15). For this reason, we are committed to primarily preach expository sermons through entire books of the Bible. At the same time, the local pastors will take seasons to address the needs of their body through topical sermons from time to time. As we preach, we believe the Word of God is for our transformation, not simply our information, and as such we will strive for application and life-change (Ezra 7:9-10; 2 Timothy 4:1-6; 1 Peter 1:23-25; 2:1-2, Hebrews 4:12)
VIBRANT WORSHIP – STIRRING OUR AFFECTION FOR GOD
We were created to worship God in spirit and truth (John 4:23), which means worship is a way of life for the Christian and involves everything about us (Romans 12:1). As a significant part of this life of worship, our churches are committed to providing gathered worship settings and congregational singing where God’s people praise Him in spirit and in truth.
IN SPIRIT: By cultivating a freedom of expression as God’s Spirit engages the hearts of His people and empowers them to use their gifts and voices to worship Him with excellence (John 4:23-24; 1 Corinthians 14:15; Ephesians 5:18-20).
IN TRUTH: By singing songs that celebrate and declare gospel truths and promote a high view of God and His glory (Psalm 9:2; 95:1; 100:1-2; 150:1-6; Romans 15:9, 1 Corinthians 15:1-5; Hebrews 2:12; Revelation 5:6-10)
The Crossway Network is dependent on the Lord Jesus to create a unique culture within its fellowship of leaders on every level. As we trust and surrender to the empowering work of the Holy Spirit, we believe our abiding relationship with Jesus must make an obvious difference in the way we relate and function in leadership. As a result, the family of churches in the Crossway Network are committed to creating a leadership culture that characteristically reflects the following values:
GLORY TO GOD – LEADING AND LIVING FOR AN AUDIENCE OF ONE
Worship fuels our leadership. We desire for our leaders and influencers to be motivated by an “Audience of One.” Do they seek God’s glory alone? Do they reflect John the Baptist’s heart when he said, “He (Jesus) must increase and I must decrease” (John 3:30)? We want to avoid the hazards that come with self-importance and the need for personal recognition. No individual is irreplaceable. The church should not be enamored by the personalities of its leaders, instead we are in awe of the person of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:1-9; 2 Corinthians 5:15). See also Galatians 1:10, 6:12, Colossians 3:23; Hebrews 1:2; Revelation 5:11-14.
GENUINE LOVE – ENCOURAGING ONE ANOTHER
We aim to demonstrate encouragement and love toward one another. We are committed to live out the New Commandment to love one another as we have been loved (John 13:34-35) so that all men will know we are his disciples. The greatest demonstration of true gospel faithfulness and obedience is to love our God with all our hearts, our souls, our minds, and all our strength; and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40; Mark 12:30-31). This love is clearly seen and described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:1-7 and it is evident in every true believer’s life (1 John 3:11-18; 4:7-21).
HUMILITY IN LEADING – EXCELLING AS SERVANTS
We strive for selflessness. God has given us the life and ministry of Jesus Christ to prove to us that he does not want us to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. He wants us to give preference to one another in honor (Romans 12:3, 10, 16). A couple of catch phrases that have emerged within the Crossway Network that illustrate this value are, “we are all in process”, and “we have the ability to speak into one another’s lives.” The true essence of humility is not thinking less of yourself, but rather not thinking of yourself at all (Mark 10:41-45; John 3:30; 15:5; 1 Corinthians 3:1-7; 2 Corinthians 5:15; Philippians 2:1-4; 1 Peter 2:21-23; 3:9; 5:1-4).
UNITY – MOVING FORWARD TOGETHER
We are eager for harmony among leaders. Leaders within the Crossway Network understand and embrace principles of unity. They must honor one another in speech and be quick to forgive (Ephesians 4:29; 1 Timothy 5:19). With the scripture and its gospel message as the foundation, leaders and ministry teams must seek God’s wisdom in a spirit of love and deference when needed (Acts 15, Philippians 2:1-4; Acts 10; 13:1-4, 15; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a; Ephesians 4:1-3, 29, 32; Romans 12:10).
PURPOSEFUL INVESTMENT – DEVELOPING LEADERS
We develop passionate leaders. Just as Jesus chose and trained leaders to carry on the work of the gospel after his life on earth (Matthew 4:18-22; 5:1-7:29; 10:1-42; 23:1-25:46; Mark 1:16-20; 2:14; 3:13-19; 6:6-13; 13:1-37; Luke 5:1-11; 6:17-49; John 1:35-51; 13:1-17; 14:1-17:26) so we seek to raise up passionate leaders who desire to follow hard after Jesus. Paul chose men to come alongside him (Silas, John Mark, Timothy, Luke, and Titus) and he taught them, trained them, and sent them out to serve and lead churches (1 Timothy 1:18-19; 2 Timothy 1:6-14; 2:1-2).
MUTUALLY EMPOWERING – HONORING EACH OTHER’S GIFTS
We seek to honor each other in the use of our spiritual gifts as we serve God, his people, and the lost. Leaders are empowered and released for service with a dependent but “can-do mentality.” We must strive to spur one another on as Crossway Network leaders are unleashed for service within their areas of giftedness and passion (1 Corinthians 12:7, 11; Ephesians 4:11-13). There is a never ending commitment to develop more leaders to replace those who depart or are sent out (John 15:5, 16; Acts 8:1-4; 13:1-4; Romans 12:3-8; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20; Ephesians 2:10; 2 Timothy 2:2; 1 Peter 2:9-10).
MISSIONAL LIVING – LEADING BY EXAMPLE
We lead passionately as shepherds after God’s own heart. We are passionate about living our lives for the mission of God and about training others to that end. We want our leaders to live like they truly believe that God’s heart is for none to
MULTIPLICATION – CHURCH PLANTING CHURCHES
We are dedicated to starting new churches. As leaders on Jesus’ mission to make disciples we believe the best way the church fulfills this mission is through intentionally sending teams and starting new churches. Every individual church, and local region of churches, seeks to plant new churches through sending teams of diversely gifted and tested leaders who have a heart to see many come to faith and healthy churches established (Exodus 18:17-27; Joshua 1:1-9; Matthew 4:18-22; 28:18-20; Mark 3:14; Acts 15:36-41; 20:17-24).