Part of my pastoral internship is to read 600 pages of collateral reading from various pastoral ministry books. The first book I choose to read was 9 Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever. I have read and studied many of the “marks” in classes at PBC, but have never got to read the entire book until now.
In this book, Dever explains that there are nine marks that make a church a healthy church. He does not argue that these are the only marks of a healthy church, but these nine things are important, Biblical marks that should be present in every church. The following are the nine marks of a healthy church:
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
Biblical Church Leadership
The “highlight” chapters for me was the chapter on expository preaching, church membership, church discipline, and leadership. I enjoyed the chapter on expository preaching because I believe expository preaching is the best way to preach God’s Word and Dever does a great job at explaining why a healthy church will have expository preaching. Believer grow and learn best when hearing systematic, expository preaching. The chapters on church membership and church discipline reminded me how important being part of a local church really is and once a member of the local church, the responsibility we have to live right and to make sure everyone in the church is living in a way that honors God and if not, church discipline needs to happen. In the last chapter on Biblical leadership, Dever explains the importance and quality of leaders the church needs. Also, Dever does a great job at explaining, from the Bible, why having plurality of elders is important. I know that there is a lot of debate between elder rule and having one pastor leading the church, but Dever does a great job at explaining what an elder is, why there should be plurality, and also the role of deacons.
I would suggest this book to anyone who is part of a local church. The health of the church is not just important to the leaders, but should be important to the believers that are a part of the church. Dever says, “the health of the church should be the concern of all Christians because it does involve the spiritual life of everyone who is a Christian and a member of a church.” I would highly recommend this book to anyone in church leadership, pastors, elder, deacons, student pastors, etc. Overall this was one of the best, not if the best, book I have read about church ministry.