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The Deliberate Church: Building Your…
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The Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry on the Gospel

by Mark Dever, Paul Alexander (Author)

Other authors: D. A. Carson (Foreword)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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This book was insightful and encouraging. Dever does a good job of providing both biblical warrant for his views and practical wisdom on how to implement them. While it would be helpful for all pastors, it is primarily geared towards guys in established churches. Overall, I heartily recommend this book for all pastors, particularly aspiring and young pastors, who desire to lead their congregation in faithfulness to the Scriptures in all areas of ministry. ( )
  codyacunningham | May 9, 2016 |
Practical, helpful, full of information about building and forming a healthy church from practices to leadership to purpose. ( )
  memlhd | Jan 23, 2016 |
Practical, helpful, full of information about building and forming a healthy church from practices to leadership to purpose. ( )
  memlhd | Jan 23, 2016 |
If you look for church revitalization books, they are few and far between. And while Deliberate

Church by Mark Dever was not marketed exclusively as that, it is a great help for pastors who are thinking purposefully about implementing a healthy philosophy of ministry into their church.

Mark Dever is pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC, and has been so since the early 90's. Dever certainly brought new life to CHBC and did so while keeping grounded in the gospel, and in the local church. He is known as author of the popular book 9 Marks of a Healthy Church, and this book is a help in putting those 9 marks into practice. He also heads 9 Marks Ministries, a great encouragement to many pastors worldwide. Also, a deeply informative follow on twittter.

The name of the book informs us of the nature of the book, and Dever wants us to think deeply about church and be deliberate about the way our churches our ordered. This covers from main service, to business meetings, polilty, children, youth, worship, and everything in between. Perhaps no one has written more or researched more about the church in recent times that Mark Dever. And Deliberate Church starts with a clear theology of the church that is helpful for planters and revitalizers. Namely, that God intends for the local church to be a corporate display His glory and wisdom. Dever builds on this biblical framework to to remind us that "we are building a corporate organic structure that will accurately magnify God's glory and faithfully communicate His Gospel.

Dever is immensely helpful in getting a solid foundation for the theology of the church, as it is the basis of everything else that a church does. Whether a church is new or old it must have a solid theology that undergirds all that they do and help guide their decisions.

He then turns to remind us of several truths regarding methods:
1. Theology drives methods
2. God's methods determine ours
3. The Gospel both enables and informs our participation in God's purposes'
4. Faithfulness to the Gospel must be our measure of success, not results.

Over the next few chapters Dever covers many topics, from "What should a pastor pray for his church", reverse membership interviews, sermon planning, worship service planning, and more.

Some quotes that stood out to me:

"Much as you must eat a varied diet from all food groups, so must you vary the worship meetings of church to satisfy different needs."

"Worship is a total life orientation of engaging with God on the terms that He proposes and in the way that he provides"

On transition in an established church: at least 5 years, lots of exposition, and recognition of small victories.

Growing a congregation to "spiritual maturity is not simply about quiet times, but about their love for other belivers, and their concrete expressions of that love."

This book is helpful for pastors of established churches to think about their methods and strategies in a way that will honor God and move their churches to be effective in their communities, and not do things "because we've always done it that way"

This book is helpful for church planters because it will give them a head start on establishing polity and methods to reach their communities.
  laholmes | Feb 6, 2014 |
Some of my favorite quotes:
The Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry on the Gospel by Mark Dever and Paul Alexander

Ours is a ministry of magnification—making God’s glory appear to the eyes of the world as big as it really is by bringing it into closer view and sharper focus in the form of the local church.

The Word builds the Church. Our power is not in having small groups, or meeting the felt needs of our target audience, or using the right evangelism program, or having funny skits, or providing plenteous parking, or targeting our ministries to postmoderns. Our power is in our unique message—the Gospel (Greek, euangelion)—not in our innovations.

Do you measure success by results, or by faithfulness to God’s Word?

only one thing that’s biblically necessary for building the church, and that’s the preached Word of God.

One of the most practical things you can do for your own personal prayer life, and for the prayer lives of other church members, is to assemble a church membership directory (with pictures, if possible) so that everyone in the church can be praying through it a page a day.

Members need to know that spiritual maturity is not simply about their quiet times, but about their love for other believers, and their concrete expressions of that love.

The best way to lose your place of influence as a pastor is to be in a hurry, forcing radical (even if biblical) change before people are ready to follow you and own it.

But if you define success in terms of faithfulness, then you are in a position to persevere, because you are released from the demand of immediately observable results, freeing you for faithfulness to the Gospel’s message and methods, leaving numbers to the Lord.

when we assume the Gospel instead of clarifying it, people who profess Christianity but don’t understand or obey the Gospel are cordially allowed to presume their own conversion without examining themselves for evidence of it—which may amount to nothing more than a blissful damnation.

Three of the most important ways you can cultivate trust in your leadership among the congregation are expositional preaching, personal relationships, and humility.

That is the nature of the church—it is a godly web of mutually sanctifying familial relationships.

The Gospel is inherently and irreducibly confrontational. It cuts against our perceived righteousness and self-sufficiency, demanding that we forsake cherished sin and trust in someone else to justify us.

Requiring people to sign a church covenant lets them know that they will be expected not only to believe the statement of faith, but to live it out.

we want to ensure that they understand both the Gospel and the church biblically, and that they develop a track record of faithfulness in church attendance and Gospel application before we give them formal or public entrée into the spiritual lives of other members.
think about the biblical reasons for allowing Scripture alone to evaluate and structure our corporate worship gatherings.

Carving out time in our Sunday morning services to read Scripture aloud, without comment, every week, makes a statement about the value we place on God’s Word.

five elements of worship (read, preach, pray, sing, and see the Word)

There is actually much wisdom and edification in employing a variety of musical styles so that people’s musical tastes broaden over time with wider exposure to different musical genres and time periods.

Edification—building people up—happens when people are encouraged to understand and apply the Gospel more biblically, not necessarily when they are led into an emotional experience or encouraged to identify temporary emotional expressiveness

The best of the hymns and the best of the more modern worship choruses are those that direct our focus away from ourselves and onto the character and Gospel of God.

Everything teaches, whether you intend it to or not.

Sunday morning service - this is where we read, preach, pray, sing, and see the Word of God together every week.

Member meetings - Another important measure to take is to distribute the agenda a week in advance so that people can look it over, pray through it, and even air their concerns with you or the chairman in private so that the public meeting is not peppered with thoughtless, divisive, or combative questions.

When we have baptisms at our church, we place them at the end of the morning service because that is when the maximum number of members and visitors will be present to observe.

The ultimate goal of building this kind of community—one built on distinctively Christian love that flows from the distinctively Christian Gospel—is to display God’s glory throughout our surrounding neighborhoods, our cities, and ultimately the world.

The covenantal, careful, corporate, cross-cultural, and cross-generational love that is to characterize the church and glorify God is at the same time intended to evangelize the world.

A steady diet of performances by soloists or even choirs can have the unintended effect of undermining the corporate, participative nature of our musical worship.

Fewer instruments on stage or even off to the side means fewer things in front of us competing for our attention and applause.

the absence of a fully wired worship band will help prevent the smog of performance from clouding the atmosphere of worship.

We use a piano, a guitar, and four vocalists, all positioned off to the side so that our attention isn’t

drawn to them, and all lightly amplified so that they don’t drown out the voices of the congregation.

Our leading vocalists simply stand to the side and sing into a moderately amplified microphone so that there is a strong lead for the congregation to follow.

variety in worship songs and styles helps prevent people from becoming militantly entrenched in a certain style or period of music. Best of all, musical variety teaches us to glean spiritual profit from many different kinds of songs.

Under a more general paradigm of ministry, all the pastors share all the ministry. Cultivating this healthy sense of shared ownership is good. But the fragmentation that specialized ministries introduce often leads pastors to become possessive over their particular area of service.

retaining a more general paradigm of ministry cultivates unity among the pastoral staff, reduces the chance of ministry being perceived as a professional career, and minimizes the splintering of ministries, pastoral teams, and congregations. But it seems that specialized ministry is almost all there is out there.

some staff will also be elders in most situations—at the very minimum, the senior pastor will be an elder, and so will an associate pastor

The elders decide on the destination. The staff drive the bus. The deacons make sure we’ve got enough gas to get there.

If we want the unity of our church to be fundamentally built on the Word, then the unity of our elders must be built on the Word.

each elder will pray a one- or two-sentence prayer of praise. This is part of how the elders are being intentional about devoting themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word (Acts 6:1-4).

Praying for the sheep together as a gathered group of under-shepherds is an excellent way to promote the spiritual health of the congregation, to keep each other as elders accountable to faithfulness in prayer for the congregation, and to lead by example.

Encourage your elders over the coming weeks to memorize Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:16-19; Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:9-14; 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13; and 2 Thessalonians 1:11 12. Lead by example, and pray that these qualities and habits would be characteristic and increasing in the corporate life and testimony of your church.

Read Ephesians 3:16-19. What makes this such a good prayer to pray for a local church?

Read Colossians 1:9-14. Try to memorize this passage by reciting it and praying it once a day for three weeks. Memorize another prayer passage each week for a month.

As we carry out this commitment to the Word and prayer among the gathered elders, we will be encouraging them to trust not in programs or personalities, not in advertisements or physical amenities, but rather in the powerful Word of God and in the promise of His life-giving Spirit.

Prepare and distribute elder packets a week in advance. This will require all the elders to have any memos written a week ahead of time as well,

Our practice is to put the losses, additions, and care list all on a single sheet of paper, along with a note regarding total membership prior to additions and potential membership should all additions pass.

It will also be helpful on this front to revise the church membership directory monthly, or at least quarterly, depending on how much your membership changes.

The elders will also meet with the deacons in leadership meetings, which happen one week before the members’ meeting. This way, whether a member asks an elder or a deacon, all the officers of the church are on the same page, and everyone will be more likely to give the same answers and present a united front to the congregation.

The healthiest way for a pastor to view himself in the elders’ meetings is as a sort of first among equals.

If we are to be imitators of God (Eph. 5:1), then our churches will reflect something of that same outward-looking focus. Part of being a healthy church means not being satisfied with self-absorption. Yes, we are right to show concern for the purity and corporate testimony of our churches. But being outward-looking—looking for opportunities to be a blessing to other individuals, other churches, and other countries—is part of corporate maturity as a church body.

If God decides to bless your church with spiritual maturity and numerical growth, work among your own congregation to cultivate a culture in which helping other churches is a priority.

We need to be teaching people that a biblical church is about much more than simply meeting our felt needs for purpose, significance, fellowship, and mutual understanding. It is about the glory of God in the Gospel of Christ. ( )
  dannywahlquist | May 14, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mark Deverprimary authorall editionscalculated
Alexander, PaulAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Carson, D. A.Forewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
蔣春暉Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Bryon, CrisNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Pastors Mark Dever and Paul Alexander provide a model of a biblical church in this resource for pastors, elders, and others interested in the vitality of their church. This highly practical book proposes an attitude of complete reliance on and submission to the Gospel in building a healthy church.… (more)

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