Today's Protestant church is not the Protestant church of the Reformation. The success of a congregation is judged by its size, programs, or entertainment factor. Leaders who stand before thousands each week are good; small assemblies are suspect.
Pastor Mark Dever says this is not the Scriptural model, and offers as antidote the Nine Marks of a Healthy Church. This isn't a complete list, but it adequately describes the core elements any church must have to be truly Christian and faithful.
At the heart of Dever's analysis is the truth that local churches are for discipling Christians, not for in-house evangelism. Christian pastors are to care for their sheep through expositional preaching, biblical theology, Gospel focus, a biblical understanding of conversion, evangelism, church membership, the correct use of church discipline, a concern for discipleship and growth, and biblical church leadership.
Dever begins every chapter (one for each of the nine marks) with an outline showing what he intends to cover. While the content is challenging, this is essentially a lay-level book as valuable for the average person in the pew as for the guy in the pulpit.
Both audiences would do well to read Nine Marks of a Healthy Church. Pastors need to know they're operating biblically, and laypeople need to know the church they're members of is biblically ministering to the needs of its congregants.
In an age when almost anything goes in the visible church, it's imperative to know what's biblical and what isn't. Taking his cues from Scripture and other pastors and theologians, Mark Dever has made an important contribution to the conversation, one that every Bible-believing Christian should read. The new edition is expanded, and features a foreword by Joshua Harris.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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