What is a Healthy Church?

What is a healthy church

I am glad to say that my church is currently holding a Tuesday morning Bible study by working our way through Mark Dever’s book, “What is a Healthy Church?“, which Crossway has recently transformed, from a lowly booklet, into a beautiful hardback “mini” book for large scale publication. In other words, the old booklet that Dever’s 9 Marks Ministry put out has been formatted and enhanced in order to present to the Christian community at large through a major book distributor.

For those of you interested, here is the table of contents along with the intro and 1st chapter of the book.

Mark Dever is senior pastor of Capital Hills Baptist Church in Washington D.C.

He is also executive director of 9 Marks Ministry (9 Marks of a Healthy Church) which I mentioned and linked to above.

Un-Inventing the Church

No guarantees, but as time permits I hope to read back through Un-Inventing the Church by Andrew P. Sandlin as I go through Mark Dever’s book and finally finish the last few chapter’s in Sandlin’s book that I never got around to the last time.

I highly recommend Andrew Sandlin’s book for anyone who leans toward seeing a more “low church” view taught in Scripture, that focuses on the Church as the people of God gathered together and worshiping Jesus for both their individual and corporate salvation, and not all about buildings, traditions, confessions, and liturgy. The preface to the book is available to read here.

If any of you ever a get chance to read these two books, it won’t take you too long and I promise that it will challenge and edify you as you pursue a more Biblical understanding of what God says about what His Church is and what it should always be.

In Christ and In Defense of the Faith,

4 thoughts on “What is a Healthy Church?”

  1. I may need to help reshape your definition of “low church” – that’s a pretty unfair and invalid categorization that you’ve made, regardless of who came up with it. The low church/high church designations refer to worship and liturgical adherence (service structure), and you’ve just made a lot of assumptions and thrown a lot of orthodox and godward churches into a category you seem to consider “unscriptural.” This includes most presbys, lutherans, lots of methodists, the entire anglican tradition, and many others. You may want to choose different terminology.

    CRI has a pretty good article on it. Check http://www.crivoice.org/lowhighchurch.html

    Just thought you’d like to know. It’s half the battle, you know.

  2. Drew,

    I’m sorry if you thought I was saying certain churches were un-Scriptural. I wasn’t saying that at all. I said “for anyone who leans toward seeing a more “low church” view taught in Scripture”. That doesn’t mean that I hold to that view. If you look at the link to the book you will see that I was paraphrasing John Frame of RTS Orlando. So, I would encourage you to take up the disagreement with him. 😉

    I agree with you about the distinctions being about differences in service structure. But I also think that that is what John Frame is talking about. I will go ahead and quote him…

    “As a Presbyterian, I have a few disagreements with my good friend Andrew Sandlin. But he gets the important things right and presents them well. What he calls a “low church” position is in my view biblically sound, and this book is unique in a theological context dominated by high-churchmen. I applaud Sandlin’s emphasis on the church as the people of God, celebrating Jesus’ resurrection and our individual redemption, rather than placing the emphasis on buildings, organization, liturgy, confessions, or tradition.”
    – Dr. John M. Frame, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, Florida

    Also, all I wanted to do was give some background info to the book. I hope you are not offended by me for doing that. Thanks for the article link! I look forward to reading it. 🙂

  3. It looks like Frame is guilty of leaving the baby in the bathwater in that quote (I figured you were quoting the work – thanks for the source.) Frame is pointing to negative trends in the high church culture without pointing to those in the low church one, and after reading some of his works, he does tend to swing hard for and against worship issues. To say that high church congregations are not “celebrating Jesus’ resurrection and our individual redemption” is wrong, and may be a misappropriation of the quote. But my biggest issue is the claim that one is biblical in a way that may seem to call the other “unbiblical.” In Frame’s context, I could hope that he is trying to applaud a level playing field btw the church cultures, not necessarily elevating one over the other.

    And of course I’m not offended – I’m a low churcher, myself. I appreciate the beauty and function of the liturgy, but it is not my culture.

  4. Thanks for the reply. I’m glad to know your thoughts on this issue. I would agree with you that we cannot say that other people are being unbiblical for their high church practices in liturgy and worship as long as they are truly focusing upon God and Jesus in their worship. I’m not sure if Frame means to say that high church men are not (by and large), or if he’s thinking of something particular. But it is clear that he’s trying to critique something within high church practice.

    I was talking with another friend the other day about this and he quoted something he had read from C.S. Lewis regarding the common book of prayer and having a set liturgy. Lewis basically said that it was good that they had the set liturgy and traditions in the Anglican denomination so that people could learn these “tools” and worship God even more freely once they learned them and got into a routine of them. In other words, when they were not distracted with getting something new correct, they could use what they learned to really focus in on Jesus and God in their worship as a congregation of redeemed sinners.

    Overall, I liked that idea and think that Lewis has a good point. If we are constantly changing things around, then no one can really focus in on worshiping God because they are too consumed with learning the new songs or prayers and not able to make them a real part of their lives in the congregation.

    I do have some concerns about “high church” practices, but I believe that I would happily exist in either realm as long as the Bible was being preached and the sacraments being practiced in a Biblically faithful manner.

    Talk to you later! 🙂

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