Friday, July 18, 2008

Benefits of the Deliberate Approach

While I was away last week, I was able to finish Mark Dever and Paul Alexander's The Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry on the Gospel, a book I had been intending to finish up for some time. The time was very well spent. To those who are in church ministry of any kind, I can't recommend this book highly enough. Dever and Alexander lay out not only what a church based on the Scriptures should look like, but also some very practical steps on how to get there.

As the title suggests, the book is designed to suggest how a church can be deliberate in following the Bible's commands for how the church ought to function. We live in a day when, as Derek Webb put it, we don't really see a difference between what works and what's right when it comes to the church. Does it put people in the pews? Then it's great! Success is measured in terms of numbers - both membership and budget. Even those who may eschew these trends often do so not because of a biblical focus, but because of entrenched human tradition. The Deliberate Church does an excellent job of pointing us to examine what the Bible has to say about the church, nothing more, and then explores how to implement these truths.

The book covers the whole spectrum of church life, including membership, polity, prayer, music, structure, and the ordinances. The book's strength is its ability to cover a great many topics while providing great advice on how to get from where you're at to where you're going. Often times, studying a healthy church from a Biblical perspective can be an overwhelming endeavor, with my enthusiasm for moving forward severely dampened by the despair of a seemingly insurmountable task. I never got that feeling with this book. What I did get is a clearly presented view of what the Scriptures call us to as a local church, and the motivating desire that pursuing those goals is not only admirable but possible by God's grace. Well paced, biblically founded and accessibly presented, whether you're a pastor or layman you owe it to yourself and your church to pick this book up.

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