What Is A Healthy Church?

This book is by Mark Dever who is the head of 9 Marks Ministries which is really about trying to help people build healthy churches. He pastors Capitol Hill Baptist Church which is only about 10-12 blocks from where I work at National Community Church. I actually had the opportunity to go have lunch with Pastor Mark a few weeks ago.

I’ll leave out my critique of these marks cause this blog will be too long. I’ll just say while P. Mark is a godly man and I had quite a pleasant lunch with him, I do differ on some key theological issues, some of which were included in this book, but there is still much I can learn from someone who has been in ministry much longer than myself, which is precisely why I scheduled a lunch with him, to learn from him. Maybe I’ll write a blog about our lunch together.

Here are the 9 Marks of a healthy church according to Dever.

1. Expositional Preaching – Meaning you should preach verse by verse through the Bible all the time and not teach topically.

2. Biblical Theology – Our theology should be shaped by the Bible and not the world or something else.

3. A Biblical Understanding of the Gospel – All churches should understand and proclaim the gospel and it should be at the heart of every sermon we preach.

4. A Biblical Understanding of Conversion – It means we understand what theologians call, “Soteriology” which is the study of how people get saved and we can tell if people are saved or not.

5. A Biblical Understanding of Evangelism – We understand how to lead people to Christ.

6. A Biblical Understanding of Church Membership – We understand what it means to be committed to a local body of believers.

7. Biblical Church Discipline – It just means the church is willing to lay down the hammer if needed in a redemptive, loving way.

8. Biblical Discipleship and Growth – We need to be committed to not only growing in numbers but growing people also.

9. Biblical Church Leadership – We need elders and deacons in the church to govern it properly.


4 thoughts on “What Is A Healthy Church?

  1. I have benefited from the writings of Mark Dever. Lately I have been thinking how we might improve one of his points. Namely, I think we can rename one of his points. “Church Discipline” may be a confusing name, because friends don’t discipline friends. That is, it almost creates a non-friendship category, where church membership is once removed from adult friendship relationships, and becomes something else. Furthermore, I think “Church disciple” is not really a phrase in the Bible. What is in the bible is friendship among church members. There is accountability in relationships. There is responsability in relationships. If we recover healthy relationships, then people will discover that they are held accountable to boundaries. For that reason, I think we should use the phrase “responsibility in relationships” as opposed to “church discipline.” I am just suggesting a name change, not a content change. I just wrote about this yesterday, and then I went looking to see what others are saying.
    Steve Rives

    • Hey Steve,

      Thanks for stopping by. Interesting thoughts. I agree with the fact that word choice is very important and so whatever you feel like best communicates your heart, that’s the direction I would move.

  2. Those things are good, to an extent. #1 seems a little overkill.

    I think the most important sign of a healthy church is that people are hearing the Word and doing what it says(Luke 6:46-49, 8:4-21). Of course, if we truly have a Biblical Theology, I believe that we will.

    • Joel,

      Yeah that’s one I disagree with. I have no problem with expositional teaching but to say other types of teaching are wrong would also say that the way Jesus taught the Bible, by telling stories is wrong:)

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