Mark Dever & Paul Alexander –
The times in which we live has spawned a number of “types” of churches. We have the Cowboy Church, The Purpose-Driven Church, The Connecting Church, The Disciple-Making Church, and who knows how many others. Now, there is another one. Mark Dever and Paul Alexander of IX Marks Ministries introduces The Deliberate Church.
The thesis for the book is that the church should be built around the Gospel. Every aspect of “doing church” should have as its primary focus, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. From the children’s Sunday school to the announcements, to the pastoral prayer, to the songs selected to sing and the sermon, every act should point to the One for which we gather.
It is written in four sections: Gathering the Church, When the Church Gathers, Gathering Elders and When the Elders Gather. The first 5 chapters have to do with gathering the church. In those chapters, the basics of church are outlined, starting with preaching, praying, personal discipleship and patience. Also included is how to begin the work (clarifying the gospel), followed by responsible evangelism, the importance of church membership and why it should be limited to believers, and finally, doing church discipline.
The second section deals with the operation of the church when she is gathered together for worship. The first two chapters of this section discuss what Dever calls the “Regulative Principle” which briefly states that everything we do in a corporate worship gathering must be clearly warranted by Scripture. Clear warrant can either take the form of an explicit biblical command, or a good and necessary implication of a biblical text. From this principle, the authors argue that God cares about how people worship! This section also includes the role of the Pastor, the roles of the different gatherings (Sunday school, morning worship, evening worship, mid-week services, etc…, the roles of the ordinances, loving one another and music.
The third section deals with finding elders. This ultimately comes down to a character issue based on the qualifications outlined in I Timothy and Titus. Once qualified elders have been recognized, elected and installed, the last section deals with how the elders function when they gather for meetings.
This is one of those books that every pastor and elder should read and digest. Not only is it solidly biblical, Dever and Alexander give helpful ideas, many of which have been implemented in their own church. They also give a quality reading list for further study after each section. Let’s strive for every church to be a deliberate church! This book can help with that.