Norris in Evangelical Times on Dever – The Deliberate Church

August 1, 2006

Roger Norris has written a nice review of Mark Dever’s and Paul Alexander’s The Deliberate Church, in the July edition of The Evangelical Times. Here it is (with thanks to ET).

"A few years ago Mark Dever gave us Nine marks of a healthy church — assessments that were deeply embedded in biblical theology and gave nine crucial qualities of a spiritually healthy church. In The deliberate church Dr Dever aims to help pastors and church leaders on the journey towards spiritual health and growth for the local church. Mark Dever is Senior Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.

"The book is a reassuring antidote to the many pragmatic approaches of our day, addressing crucial issues of church life with clarity and insight. The authors are careful to trust the Word of God in the work of building the church, knowing that ‘the church itself is God’s evangelism program’.

"The chapters are set out in four sections; 1) Gathering the Church; 2) When the Church gathers; 3) Gathering elders; 4) When the elders gather. The authors make it clear in the first chapter that they do not have a great programme for the church; rather they rely on four basic areas of pastoral responsibility — preaching, praying, personal discipling relationships, and patience.

"Combining biblical principles with practical advice, the book goes on to address such issues as evangelism, membership, worship, fellowship, prayer, leadership and the role of the pastor. There are helpful notes on multiple Sunday morning services and contemporary influences, considered in the light of the biblical data.

"Each section of the book includes a ‘think tank’ of questions and ends with a list of recommended reading.

"The book is ideal for pastors and church leaders, who want to begin with the gospel and take seriously the biblical pattern for the church — and are looking for down-to-earth practical help. At the very least it raises searching and important questions for leaders in our contemporary ‘outcomes-driven’ culture.

"Not everyone will agree wholeheartedly with every point, but the book prompts us to make an honest assessment of the life of the local church. In giving direction to the task of building a ministry, The deliberate church points us away from the pragmatism of programmes to the priority of faithfulness to the gospel; to where the church’s character, privileges and responsibilities are biblically driven — deliberately.