I realize this book has been out for a while (2004), but I finally got around to reading Nine Marks of a Healthy Church. The main reason I read the book is that I like the author, Mark Dever, and wanted to see what he has to say in this important text.
I call this text "important" because Dever challenges us all to take a hard look at the churches we are a part of. He suggests nine marks or characteristics that healthy churches will have. Dever does not say that these are the only characteristics of healthy churches, or that a healthy church has to have all of these. He is simply saying that these nine marks are a good measure of the health of a church.
The nine marks are:
1. Expositional Preaching
2. Biblical Theology
3. The Gospel
4. A Biblical Understanding of Conversion
5. A Biblical Understanding of Evangelism
6. A Biblical Understanding of Church Membership
7. Biblical Church Discipline
8. A Concern for Discipleship and Growth
9. Biblical Church Leadership
The reality today is that when we look at the bible and then look at our churches, we see some similarities and many differences. The focus in many churches almost always seems to be on the latest fads or gimmicks to get people in the front door. The farther we stray from the bible, the less we impact the world like the early church did.
Dever has a desire to be biblical. Because of that, he has suggested these nine points in particular. All of these marks are taken from scripture and point the church back to the bible. Some churches practice some of these, but few practice all of them. For example, today you can find a good number of churches that preach expositionally, hold to biblical theology, and teach and believe the gospel. However, there are far fewer churches that have a biblical understanding of church membership, practice church discipline, or have biblical church leadership. I realize I am writing through my Southern Baptist lens, but I think I am correct.
If you have an interest in the church, and in church health in particular, then this book would be a good investment for you. It will make you thankful for where your church is biblical, and will challenge you to strive for change where it is needed.
If you don't want to buy the book, but are still interested in the information, try visiting the IX Marks website (click here). At the top of the web page, simply click on any of the nine circled numbers to learn a great deal about the nine marks.