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Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever

Nine Marks of a Healthy Church

by Mark Dever

Other authors: Mark E. Dever (Foreword)

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The author presents a persuasive argument as to why each of these marks is so important, and how they lead to one another. The first mark, expositional preaching, is central to the right functioning of any church. From this springs a biblical theology. And from this we get a biblical understanding of the gospel, conversion, evangelism, church discipline, discipleship, and church leadership. An excellent book for explaining why we do church the way we do, and challenging even the healthiest of churches to be more bible centred. ( )
  eclecticdodo | Feb 29, 2012 |
This is a necessary book for anyone in or wanting to enter the pastoral ministry. Our churches today are desperately in need of the lessons contained in this short book. May God bless the efforts and labors of Mark Dever and Nine Marks Ministries. ( )
  cmsheffield | Nov 15, 2009 |
The beauty of Mark Dever’s book, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, is its complete lack of practicality. There is no advise on the church’s music style, its programs to reach visitors, parking issues, or the latest trends, programs and fads. But this is not to say that the wise pastor would be unable to find application within the pages of Dever’s work. The author’s concern is not in the numerical growth of the attendance role, rather his focus is on the health of the church body. The pastor who has just finished The Purpose Driven Church will find a radically different paradigm here. Instead of basing the work on his church’s massive numbers, a la Warren, he follows nine biblical characteristics of ecclesiology. With topics such as Biblical Theology, Church Discipline and Membership he rehashes issues that most modern church goers would see as antiquated and irrelevant, Dever argues persuasively and biblically for their restoration into the church’s life. A consideration and evaluation of the nine marks in summary fashion will show that Dever’s book is a clarion call to a different style of church growth than is perpetuated by the church growth experts of today.
Mark One: Expositional Preaching
Dever’s first mark is his foundation for the rest of his argument. A church that does not have preaching that explains the message of the text is not a healthy body. Dever says that the first mark of expositional preaching “is far and away the most important of them all.” The author explains that only in expository preaching is the centrality of the word of God the driving force of the church. The pastor’s agenda becomes secondary to the message of the scriptures. Dever further argues for the role of the Bible in saving the lost, sanctifying the saved and driving the role of the pastor.
Mark Two: Biblical Theology
Mark one focused on the means of the pastor’s teaching the church. The second mark examines the content of the message. Dever desires his readers to understand the “metanarrative” of the Bible and to evaluate the biblical message in light of the character of God. Dever then explains five attributes of God that he believes, “summarize the main story line of the Bible.” The attributes he lists are: Creating, faithful, loving, holy and sovereign. This section may be Dever’s weakest. Not enough attention is paid to the relationship of expositional preaching shaping our biblical theology. His emphasis is correct though as he shows that the healthy church is one that has an accurate picture of the God of the Scriptures.
Mark Three, Four and Five: The Gospel, Conversion and Evangelism.
Dever’s next three diagnosis for a healthy church are really three different sides of one issue. That is, that the gospel must be preached in and by a healthy church. His chapter on the gospel clearly articulates the essential message of salvation by grace alone through faith alone. The next chapter describes conversion in terms of Lordship salvation. The necessity of changed lives is Dever’s emphasis. Chapter five explains the corporate and individuals obligation to fulfill the great commission. Dever’s emphasis in these three chapters articulates that the church’s commitment to the gospel must never be secondary. Evangelistic preaching, an emphasis on salvation and a church body involved in propagating the gospel are imperative for a healthy church.
Mark Six and Seven: Biblical Understanding of Church Membership and Church Discipline
Chapters Six and Seven are closely related. Dever’s argument for church membership flows both logically and seamlessly into his discussion of church discipline. Dever’s consideration of these two oft neglected matters in the modern church is very persuasive. Very little is written from a Biblical Perspective on church membership. The modern American church seems to have abandoned the argument from scripture and preferred the more practical explanation for the presence or absence of church membership. He argues from the nature of the church itself and then explains five biblical benefits of formal church membership: To assure ourselves, to evangelize the world, to expose false gospels, to edify the church and to glorify God. Dever concludes the chapter on membership by providing a sample of his church’s membership covenant as an example of the requirements a church places on her members. Chapter seven’s treatment of church discipline is sobering. He compassionately explains the Bible’s teaching on restoring a sinning brother. Dever differentiates between discipline being characterized as unloving and the obligation that the church has to its own purity.
Mark Eight: A Concern for Discipleship and Growth
Dever’s book handles church growth in the same way that the Bible does, according to the model of discipleship. Dever understands that Christ is the one who adds to his church and the means by which this happens is the propagation of the gospel and the nurturing of those who respond. This chapter not only serves as a synopsis of the books major points but it also relays how each of the “marks” contributes to the growth and discipleship of the church body. This rehashing of the previous chapters is helpful and relevant in his explanation of Christian growth.
Mark Nine: Biblical Church Leadership
Dever’s final mark is that of Biblical church leadership. In a concise twenty-page treatise he presents the Biblical case for an elder led church. This is quite stunning when one examines Mr. Dever’s credentials. He is the pastor of a Southern Baptist Church, a denomination known for Deacon governance rather than Elder. Dever’s understanding of church governance is not without its Baptistic flavor as he explains the role of congregationalism in church governance. He is careful in his explanation of proper ecclesiology, assigning to the congregation the role of, “final court of arbitration” in matters of leadership selection and church discipline. He combines this with Godly, male, qualified eldership to make an excellent double-threat to any parish.
True, Dever’s book lacks the mega appeal that piques pastoral interest today but the issues that he discusses could revolutionize a church that seeks to reorient itself according to the plan of God. Dever’s book began as a series of sermons, developed into a booklet, progressed into a full book and now is available in a revised and expanded second edition. His argumentation is full and thorough with scriptural evidence offered on ever page. His book lacks the glamorous credentials of a mega-church pastor, but contains the timeless wisdom of Scripture. The Nine Marks of a Healthy Church is not man’s opinions about a social club, it is God’s design for His church, the church that Jesus promised the gates of Hell would not prevail against. ( )
  atduncan | Dec 5, 2007 |
This is a phenomenal book that will serve as the cure for "church growth" books. building the church is about being faithful, even when this may not be pragmatic. ( )
  theologicaldan | Jan 12, 2007 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mark Deverprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dever, Mark E.Forewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Book description
Table of Contents:

Mark 1 : expositional preaching -- Mark 2 : biblical theology -- Mark 3 : the Gospel -- Mark 4 : a biblical understanding of conversion -- Mark 5 : a biblical understanding of evangelism -- Mark 6 : biblical understanding of church membership -- Mark 7 : biblical church discipline -- Mark 8 : a concern for discipleship and growth -- Mark 9 : biblical church leadership -- Tips for leading the church in a healthy direction -- The numerical nineties -- Medicines from the cabinet.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 158134631X, Paperback)

What makes for a healthy church? A large congregation? Plentiful parking? Vibrant music?

You may have read books on this topic before-but not like this one. This new expanded edition of Nine Marks of a Healthy Church is not an instruction manual for church growth. It is a pastor's recommendation of how to assess the health of your church using nine crucial qualities that are neglected by many of today's churches.

Whether you're a church leader or an involved member of your congregation, you can help cultivate these elements in your church, bringing it new life and health for God's glory.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:28:47 -0400)

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