“The Deliberate Church” Book Discussion

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!

 

Every Generation

“When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10)

My church, Eastside Baptist Church, was kind to send me to the Shepherds’ Conference at Grace Community Church in the Sun Valley, CA area. I consider this no small thing. It is my expectation that my life and ministry will look at this mile post as leaving lasting marks on my mind and spirit.

It was a blessing to meet many new friends, to be surprised by seeing friends I didn’t know would be there, hear powerful messages, and receive/buy new books. I traveled with my friends at Magic Valley Bible Church in Twin Falls, and encouraged by the faithfulness of this significant church in the Magic Valley.

Eastside Baptist Church, thank you for this kindness. May you be recipients of the blessing it has been upon me.

You can watch and listen online to all of the main conference speakers. All sessions were significant in content and quality, here are a few observations and links to the sessions as they still lingering on my mind since returning home.

John MacArthur: (watch session one HERE) John MacArthur spoke twice, the opening session and the closing session. Both Messages were, as expected, fueled from Scripture and seasoned with God ordained wisdom. The opening session set the stage for the entire week. MacArthur gave four reasons why they held this “Inerrancy Summit”;

  • The Scripture is under attack and we are called to defend it. It is inevitable that offence will come.
  • The Scripture is authoritative and we are called to proclaim it.
  • The Scripture is accurate and we are called to demonstrate it.
  • The Scripture is active through the power of the Holy Spirit and we are called to deploy it.

“There are many books that can change your thinking, but only one book can change your destiny.” John MacArthur

Alistair Begg: (watch session two HERE) This was a first time for me to here Alistair Begg preach in person. His boldness and clarity from the authority of Scripture is as consistent with every message I’ve listened to on the radio. His assignment was to preach from 2 Timothy 4:1-5. The best way to summarize Alistair Begg is to tell you to listen, that English accent is easy on the ears. To summarize in short; he argued that Timothy’s charge from the apostle Paul was

  • a solemn charge
  • simple (not complicated)
  • straight forward (clearly articulated)
  • to patiently endure (to be charged to endure implies difficulty and hardship await).

R.C. Sproul: (watch session three HERE) He gave a compelling argument for the defense of Scripture

Stephen Nichols:  (watch session four HERE) 1 Thess. 2:13

Ligon Duncan: (watch session five HERE)

“Ungodliness leads to heresy. Heresy leads to ungodliness.”

“the apostle Paul tells us what the Bible is… what the Bible is for… what the Bible does.”

Miguel Nunez: (watch session six HERE)

“If the missionary does not fully understand the inerrancy of Scripture they will not endure to the end when faced with hardship.”

“We do not preach on top of the Bible, we preach under the Bible, under the authority of the Bible.”

Carl Trueman: (watch session seven HERE)

“the understanding of Scripture is most important for understanding God.”

“The principle duty of a pastor is to feed the flock by diligent preaching of the word.” John Owen

Ian Hamilton: (watch session eight HERE)

“When you hold to the inerrancy of Scripture you are made aware of your smallness.”

Mark Dever: (watch session nine HERE) In this session Mark Dever read the entirety of Psalm 119. (most verses of all chapters in the bible.) The value of doing so was profound and helpful in capturing the whole of what is said.

“Prayer is more important than any commentary in your library”

Steven Lawson: (watch session ten HERE) If you are limited on time, I recommend this one sermon as a must listen to, especially to my pastor friends. In this message Steven Lawson shows seven illustrations from Scripture of what the word of God is like…

  • a sword that pierces
  • a mirror that reveals
  • a seed that produces
  • milk that nourishes
  • a lamp that shines
  • a fire that consumes
  • a sledgehammer that pulverizes

Gregory Beal: (watch session eleven HERE)  Examination of the appearance of conflict in Scripture. Helpful examination of Hosea 11:1 with Matthew 2:15

Q & A: (watch session twelve HERE) this gives a helpful timeline of the inerrancy argument from 1978 that brought about the 1978 Chicago Statement. Very helpful

Derek Thomas: (watch session thirteen HERE)

Albert Mohler: (watch session fourteen HERE) You must be prepared to pay close attention to Dr. Mohler. Not because he’s smarter than the rest of us. But because the truths that await you here will be most helpful.

“We are in an intellectual crisis”

Sinclair Ferguson: (watch session fifteen HERE)

“The Bible is a gift from the Holy Triune God.”

“Only the Father can be praise for sending the Son,
Only the Son can be praised for dying for our sins,
Only the Holy Spirit can be praised tutoring us…”

Iain Murray: (watch session sixteen HERE) Iain Murray gives a helpful argument for the inspiration of the New Testament and its place in the history of the church.

  • Jesus gave the Apostles the Holy Spirit to empower them to be the spokesmen. Jesus gave them “Power of Attorney”.
  • The Spirit was given to the apostles to breathe Scripture.
  • The Spirit came to the apostles as the Spirit of truth to guarantee the truth.
  • Jesus’ prayer for the apostles (John 17)
  • The apostles appear to know that they were part of this. (John 20:30-31)

“We used to say, “What does the Bible say?” Now it is said, “What part of the Bible is the word of God?”

Kevin DeYoung: (watch session seventeen HERE)

“Is the bible…

  • largely true?
  • helpful?
  • usually true?
  • entirely true?

How we answer this question explains why we are as we are.

John MacArthur: (watch session eighteen HERE) This concluding message was, in my opinion, was likely the lest in human efforts but surly endowed with power from the Holy Spirit. His preaching text was Matthew 22.

“An inerrant word demands expository preaching.”

“This culture now participates more in Halloween than Easter.”

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