There are books on my shelves that were read quickly. Skimmed and speed-read. Papers were written and then it was on to the next book. This was my seminary life. I always knew at some point I would return to a select few of these books for a second, moderately-paced reread. Mark Dever's, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church is one of those books.
Nine Marks of a Healthy Church does not define the requirements to be a church, but instead suggests nine things a healthy church should demonstrate. But neither is it a diagnostic book on church health. Dever writes, "This book isn't a complete inventory of every sign of health. It is intended to be a list of crucial marks that will lead to such a full experience" (17).
The nine marks are, expositional preaching, biblical theology, the gospel, a biblical understanding of conversion, a biblical understanding of evangelism, a biblical understanding of church membership, biblical church discipline, a concern for discipleship and growth, and biblical church leadership. (Now that I've given you the marks, you probably think you don't need to read the book. I feel otherwise.)
Dever does a wonderful job working through each of the items he defines are required for health. No single point goes too deep and Dever does hugs biblical principles. He uses lots of Scripture to support his argument, which we've come to expect from Mark Dever.
I found that this book served as good guide and a reminder of sorts. Given that I am in the process of planting a church, I quickly realized this book serves as a helpful reference tool. It will be extremely easy to pull this book out the next time I need to think about biblical evangelism or a leadership issue or should we need to do church discipline.
While the book is probably best suited to pastors and church leaders, it is extremely informative and would make a good read for any Christian desiring to contribute to the health of his or her local church body.
Nine Marks of a Healthy Church has been around for more than ten years, but if you've not yet read it. I highly recommend it.
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