Thursday, September 22, 2011

What is a Healthy Church by Mark Dever

This last week, I took some time and read What is a Healthy Church by Mark Dever. It is a book that was given free to me as part of the welcome packet from "The Weekender." It is a really short book and can easily be read by the average reader in a few hours.

The second half of the book briefly walks through the nine marks of a healthy church (there is a much longer book with the same title for a more thorough explanation of these marks). Three of the marks he qualifies as "Essential Marks of a Healthy Church." They include: Expositional Preaching, Biblical Theology, and a Biblical Gospel. The other six marks are qualified as "Important Marks of a Healthy Church." They include: Biblical Understanding of Conversion, Evangelism, Membership, Church Discipline, Discipleship & Growth, and Church Leadership. Each one of these chapters are short snippets designed to give an overview of parts of the church.

That is the second half of the book. But the first half is worth the price of the book. He asks some very thoughtful questions and offers some insights into what is or isn't a church. One of the most helpful thoughts is found in the following statement.
"God created the world and humankind to display the glory of who he is. Adam and Eve, who were supposed to image God's character, didn't. Neither did the people of Israel. So God sent his Son to image his holy and loving character and to remove the wrath of God against the sins of the world. In Christ, God came to display God. And in Christ, God came to save. Now the church, which has been granted the life of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, is called to display the character and glory of God to all the universe, testifying in word and action to his great wisdom and work of salvation. Friend, what are you looking for in a church? Good music? A happening atmosphere? A traditional order of service? How about: 
a group of pardoned rebels . . .
whom God wants to use to display his glory  . . .
before all the heavenly host . . .
because they tell the truth about him . . .
and look increasingly just like him--holy, loving, united?"
(48)
That's what this book is about. It is about reshaping our view of what a healthy church is all about. I would highly recommend it to anyone! Let me finish with a short quote from the beginning of the book that really impacted me.
"Being a Christian means caring about the life and health of the body of Christ, the church. It means caring about what the church is and what the church should be because you belong to the church, Christian . . . Christian, are you ready for the day on which God will call you to account for how you have loved and served the church family, including your church leaders?" (30-31)

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