Marks of a 3Strand Church
These shared commitments of 3Strand churches are written to describe the basic commitments expected from or pursued by, all healthly churches wishing to participate in the network. In addition to these distinctives, we affirm together the Gospel Coalition Confessional Statement as our statement of faith.
We hold to a biblical view of God's sovereignty (Rom 11:33-36), the doctrines of grace (Rom 6:20-23, Eph 1:4-8, Acts 20:28, John 1:12-13, Rom 8:1-10, Rom 8:31-39), and the order of salvation (Rom 8:29-30) in line with Reformed tradition. Jesus saves sinners from death to life in abundance, not because of anything they have done, but because of everything he has done. Life in Jesus is a free gift of his sovereign grace, for his glory and our joy (Eph 2:4-10).
We believe the New Testament demonstrates the structure of a local church, which includes servant-hearted (Mark 10:43-45), biblical eldership (Titus 1:5-9), the proper admittance and removal of members (Matt 18:15-30, 1 Cor 5), and the proper administration of the Sacraments as instituted by Jesus (Luke 22:20, Matt 28:19).
God has created all humans in his own image (Gen 1:27), thus, all human beings are image-bearers and worthy of dignity and respect, from the moment of conception. God also created them male and female, completely equal in worth and value, yet intentionally distinct in a way designed to complement each other. The created distinction between men and women also includes complementary roles and God given responsibilities. Marriage, created by God, is a vital partnership between a man and woman. In the home, husbands are to be servant-hearted leaders, imaging Jesus’ care for his bride, the Church (Eph 5:25-33). In the context of the local church, God has ordained that qualified men lead in the church sacrificially giving of themselves as the chief servants of the community. Therefore, the role of elder and the activities of biblical instruction for the whole church and the task of exercising authority are areas of service designated for men (1 Tim, 3:2, 1 Tim 2:12-13).
Jesus has tasked his Church with the making of disciples (Matt 28:18-20). The New Testament gives to the church clear models of intentional community relationships, formal and informal, in which people give of themselves to help people love and obey Jesus, love others, and understand the Bible (Acts 20:18-25, 1 Cor 11:1, John 13:35). This others-centered community does life together in the wake of the reality of Jesus, living as citizens of his kingdom. The local church is a community in which people, in the name of Jesus, are known and know others, are loved and love others, are served and serve others. At the core of biblical discipleship is an others-centered love for God and all people (Luke 10:27).
The preaching of the gospel of Jesus, from his Word, is the backbone of the tangible activity of a local church (1 Tim 4:1-2), the public worship of Jesus (1 Tim 4:13), and its visible evangelistic activity (Rom 10:14). It is the task of the elders, rooted in God’s Word, to equip the saints for the work of the ministry (Eph 4:11-16) from the whole council of God (Acts 20:26-28).