How Does an UnHealthy Church become Healthy?

Sunday Afternoon Musings

Mark DeverThe first and only time I met Mark Dever was almost 20 years ago when he visited Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. I had read his short book 9 Marks of a Healthy Church and found that my heart resonated with his perspective. When I heard he was coming to Trinity and that a “brown bag luncheon” was going to be included, I signed up to be a part. The day arrived. I went to Trinity only to find that I was the only one who had signed up. Mark was gracious and the two of us had a two-hour conversation about ministry.

Here’s Mark’s Nine marks of a healthy church.

  1. Expositional Preaching.
  2. Biblical Theology.
  3. Promotion of Christian Discipleship and Growth.
  4. Practice of Biblical Church Discipline.
  5. Biblical Understanding of the Gospel
  6. Conversion.
  7. Evangelism.
  8. Biblical Church Membership.
  9. Biblical Understanding of Leadership.

I was reminded of that conversation while  reading an article by Jessi Strong that featured Mark Dever on “Becoming a Biblical Community.” Here’s an excerpt from the article:

There is no one-size-fits-all package for an unhealthy church’s self-evaluation process. And Dever warns that the process of healthy church growth takes years. “It’s not like a light switch that can just be turned on. The process is as varied as an individual beginning to work toward health. But, generically speaking, churches should begin to preach God’s Word expositionally, regularly, and faithfully from the pulpit. Begin to understand what a church is, what church membership is, and what it means to join a local church. Begin to encourage growth and discipleship. A healthy church should always be clear on what the Bible actually teaches, particularly about the gospel, conversion, and evangelism. See if you can create more biblical structures of leadership for people who are meeting biblical qualifications to be leaders. It’s all the things that should’ve been put in place from the beginning, and over time they’ll result in greater health.”   (Bible Study Magazine, May/June 2015, p. 13-14)

Here’s what struck me from that one paragraph, there is no magic. There is simply continuing to do the right thing.

Pray for churches and pastors and elders to run from “flash and hype” and stick to basic things.

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