Sunday, January 26, 2014

A review of Deliberate Church, by Mark Dever

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.

Mark Dever and his ministry has had a huge impact on many people, and this book continues the trend.  Pick it up today!

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