One of the books I read on the plane during our flight out to Boston last weekend was a short book called "What is a Healthy Church?" by Pastor Mark Dever. It is an insightful work exploring some of the key aspects of what makes up a healthy church.
The book is divided up into three parts:
1) What is a healthy church?
2) Essential Marks of a Healthy Church
3) Important Marks of a Healthy Church
Dever answers the question "What is a healthy church?" by offering this definition -
A healthy church is a congregation that increasingly reflects God's character as his character is revealed in his Word.I like this definition because is allows for different sizes of church, different styles, different methods, and different models of service. I also like this definition because it rightly puts the focus for health on knowing God and believing his Word. This is critical.
Some of the statements in the book that were meaningful to me are as follows:
- You (the reader) and all the members of your church, Christian, are finally responsible before God for what your church becomes, not your pastors and other leaders --- you.
- Together we can display the gospel of Jesus Christ in a way we just can't by ourselves.
- Christian, are you ready for the day on which God will call you to account for how you have loved and served the church family, including your church leaders?
- The people of God will find life entirely and exclusively through listening to God's Word and obeying it.
- The church's [and the individual Christian's] job is to listen to the Word of God and echo it with all it is.
- The Holy Spirit is no fool. If he has revealed something in his Book for all the world to read, churches should not think of themselves as so wise that they do better to avoid certain subjects.
- Uninvolved members of a church confuse both real members and non-Christians about what it means to be a Christian......By calling someone a member of your church, you are saying that that individual has your church's endorsement as a Christian.
"What is a Healthy Church?" is not just for pastors or theologians; it is a terrific book for all believers to read. It is not difficult to read or understand. It is faithful to the Bible and gives wise counsel to those wondering what kind of church they should join.
I encourage you to read it for yourself.