Last week I began meeting with a group of men to read and discuss a book by Mark Dever, “The Deliberate Church”.
I first read this book in 2005. I had read a few books by Mark Dever and found this book of interest. At the time I read this I found myself in a surprising moment as a pastor. The church I was pastoring (and still pastoring) was in the midst of unprecedented growth. We were looking for options to accommodate to fast growing needs, addressing the expected wants of new attenders, hungry for innovation, and then I read this book and felt like I have just been flipped out of the boat.
I liken that day to rafting down the Colorado River as a kid. It was like other times; the water was right for a fun ride, we knew were all the rapids were, we knew how to get there, we wanted the full experience, and then right there in the middle of a rapid our raft was upside down. (At that time – about all I could do was think about where my hat was, we didn’t wear helmets then.)
Mark Dever and Paul Alexander put together a helpful book. A church growth book not at all patterned like trendy church growth fads that come and go. This is more of a call to open your bible and see what God has to say about His church and how he has ordained its order, structure, and purpose.
I’m reading it again with a cross section of men; pastors/elders, laymen, church planter, young, middle, and old.
Here is a summary of the content of the book.
The book addresses four main sections; 1) Gathering the Church, 2) When the Church Gathers, 3) Gathering Elders, and 4) When the Elders Gather.
I will give occasional updates on our reading progress. Today, my prayer is four fold…
- For myself: I pray that God will help me not be typically cynical and overly critical of others and look closely at my heart – examining with the lamp of Scripture exposing any wrong motive, intent, or dysfunction in me or my shepherding ways.
- For my pastor friends: I pray that we will more quickly get serious about dealing with our hunger for fame and selfish ambitions in how we handle the eternal work of pastoring/shepherding God’s people. There is need for us to be deliberate, not responsive to the latest fad or wave, but deliberate and careful to give attention to our Lord’s instructions concerning the care of His bride. Be that kind of pastor. (Purchase your copy HERE)
- For my denominational partners: If we say that the local church is the top of our organizational order, with Christ the head of the local church, then may I challenge you to reconsider our practical relationship. The local church does not need someone to come and introduce a new concept or program, the best thing you can do is help a local church stay faithful to her ordered work as given by the Lord to his church. Don’t feed our romance hunger for creative, innovative, flashy days. Most of us want to be prepared for the day when the boat is capsized to be a pillar and buttress of truth in our communities. Be that kind of partner to the church. (Purchase bulk copies HERE)
- For my church family: know that I’m reading a book that one day “threw me out of the boat”. Today, I want what will cause me to look to God. I want to have discussion with others on how we “do” church. I want attention given to the bible about why we do what we do… when I come up from being thrown from the boat I want the only thing I think about to be; “give me my bible!”, “what does God have to say about this?”, “Is there anything I need to repent of?”, “What do I need God’s courage for to faithfully keep doing?”. That which is urgent, yet not filled with anxiety. Let’s be that kind of church!