Lately I have been thinking again of what constitutes a healthy church. Is it the size of the church? Is it the vibrant worship? Is it the programmes? Is it the people? Etc…?
My thoughts brought me to a book “Nine Marks of a Healthy Church” by Mark Dever. This book is available in our church library.
In Nine Marks, Mark Dever emphasized more on the health (internal) rather than the numerical growth (external) of the church. Growth in membership and profession of Christ may not mean a healthy church. In terms of the membership size, a social and entertainment club could do that. Therefore the church’s health should be based on the spirituality of the members and not the number.
The nine distinguishing marks of a healthy church that Dever insightfully wrote for us to examine are very helpful and challenging. Just like early detection of a deadly sickness will get us to seek treatment promptly and prevent death, likewise the checking of a church’s health is necessary to determine the condition of the church, and prayerfully do everything we can, to being the church God wants us to be. One of the most important traits of a healthy church that Dever mentioned is that of expository preaching of the Word of God. By expository preaching, Dever was essentially telling preachers to exegete the Bible faithfully and be true to the text and make them clear and simple for the congregation.
Whether you are a preacher, Bible teacher or a student of God’s Word, it is profitable to acquire some aids of hermeneutics, (Bible interpretation) exegesis (Critical explanation or analysis of a text) and homiletics (the art and craft of teaching). Thus with diligent and faithfulness in our Bible study and sermon preparation and internalization of what we have prepared, we can then teach and exhort God’s Word biblically, sincerely and confidently and trust the Holy Spirit to work in and through us to the recipients.
Another thing that merits mentioning and commendation is Dever’s highlights of the centrality of the preached Word of God. I fully concur with Dever that the Word of God must take precedence in all our church activities. Martin Luther said, “The highest
worship of God is the preaching of the Word.” In the broader sense “preaching of the Word” includes teaching in the Adult Bible Class, Youth Discipleship Class, Sunday School Class, Catechism Class, Westminster Class, DG, Thursday Night Bible Study, and other related Bible study gatherings, Paul says “Preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season.” All Disciples of Christ will find the need to communicate God’s truths to Christians and non-Christians.
Thank God our church has always focussed on the sound teaching and the centrality of God’s Word. Even our church vision 2015 and beyond on being a disciple-making church is to be anchored on the diligent study and faithful obedience of the Word of God. May the Lord continue to inspire our leaders, teachers and all members of our church to have a strong desire to learn the Word, love the Word and live the Word. 2 Timothy 2:15 says “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Our Church Camp is from 6-10 June, let us take this opportunity to come together to learn God’s Word and be spiritually fed. Decide to come to the church camp. We are one church, one family and one body in Christ!