Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Deliberate Church

Currently re-reading The Deliberate Church by Mark Dever and Paul Alexander, which I highly recommend.

Here are some highlights of some of the points and principles from the book. Despite being rather dry in some places and overstated in others, it is nevertheless excellent. If you're a pastor, you should read it, particularly if you're a church planter or someone assuming the mantle of a stalled or gospel-deficient church. It is affirming of gospel-driven ministry and immensely helpful in formulating an approach to such ministry.

Some gems . . .

Ministry Methodology:

1. Theology drives method.
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 the measure of success, not results.

That last one is probably pretty hard to sell to some elder boards and leadership teams.

Speaking of selling leaders on a method, these are the four objectives Dever told the search committee that called him to Capitol Hill Baptist he would commit to as the thrust of his ministry:
[S]omeone asked me if I had a program or plan to implement for growth. Perhaps to this person's surprise (and perhaps to yours too!), I responded that I didn't really have any great plans or programs to implement. I was just armed with four P's . . .

1. Preaching
2. Praying
3. Developing personal discipleship relationships
4. Patience

I'm not sure this would qualify as what some churches might call "visionary leadership," but it is the basic biblical call for ministers.

Dever and Alexander's summation of the obligations of pastoral ministry:
The Three G's

1. Graze
The pastor's first responsibility is to feed the sheep on the Word of God.

2. Guide
Sheep need to be led, not just fed.

3. Guard
A faithful shepherd is always on the watch against predators and will put himself in harm's way on behalf of the flock.

This book is Scripture-saturated, by the way, and has lots of good stuff on rebooting a stagnant church, on assembling elders and deacons, on managing bloated membership rolls, on exercising biblical church discipline, on the theology of corporate worship, etc.

Even as it frequently restates the obvious -- soli deo gloria and solus christus -- it is a revolutionary little tract in the hyped up world of church growth strategy.

The Gospel-Constructed Church

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