Do you attend a healthy church? To answer this question, we first have to know what a healthy church is. In an age where church means everything from programs to personal interest stories, knowing the marks of a health church is increasingly hard target to find much less hit. Even the traditional markers of people, money, and buildings can be deceptive because Paul explicitly warns that in 2 Timothy 4:3
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions
A church may have a large budget, a fuller parking lot and magnificent facilities and still be an extremely unhealthy church because the gospel is not preached.
Mark Dever wrote Nine Marks of a Healthy Church seeking to help people like you and me to understand what God has designed the church to be. Pastor Mark tackles the subjects of expositional preaching, biblical theology, the gospel, conversion, evangelism, church membership, church discipline, discipleship, and leadership with 295 pages of plainly written words. Each chapter addresses the above marks of a healthy church with biblical conviction and practical insight that is as helpful as it is easy to read.
If you are a children’s leader, a lay leader or a member, I encourage you to read of copy of this book for we all have a responsibility to care for our church. As the great British preacher, Martin Lloyd Jones said,
Unless we, as individual Christians are feeling a grave concern about the state of the Church and the wold today, then we are very poor Christians indeed (p.8).
Whether or not your pastor preaches the Word as it appears on the page or forces the Word to fit his agenda will greatly influence the spiritual maturity of your congregation. Your churches decision to not discipline the married couple heading to divorce court will great influence your ability to disciple your friends. Your church’s decision to place a high value on church membership will greatly alter how you baptize. How your church approaches these nine mark will reveal much about your churches character and health.
We need to know how to to evaluate all these things in more if we hope to have healthy, godly church. All church members have a God given responsibility to guide and direct their church. Mark writes,
Whether in selecting teachers or paying for them, in approving their teaching, or in simply consenting to listen to them repeatedly and happily, the congregation that Paul envisioned here was culpable for the false teaching that they endured and sponsored. - p.237
God’s calls all of us to maintain the health of our local church. Shirking our duty does not free us from our responsibility.
If we love our church, we will be passionate about our church’s health and future. And if we hope to wisely encourage or rebuke our church leaders and our church body, we must have a firm grasp of what doctrines and practices define a healthy church.
If you desire to know more about the church and about how to encourage your church towards gospel health, I encourage you to read Nine Marks of a Health Church.