What many people look for in a church is not what we should be looking for when we seek a like-minded group of Christians to worship, commune with, and serve God. Many look to aesthetic items such as size of the building, adequate parking, padded seats and air conditioning. Some are more concerned with the number of people that attend or if the church has a warm, friendly environment. A few may only attend if the church runs a good budget or has strong leadership in the church government. Some of the items mentioned may have some weight of significance, however, not in the way we think they may. Dever cuts through all of the fluff and gives us the most basic, bare bones minimum as to what we need in our church. He outlines nine essentials: expositional preaching, a biblical theology, the gospel, a biblical understanding of conversion, evangelism, and church membership, biblical church discipline, a concern for discipleship and growth, and biblical church leadership. I would like to spend some time on about half of these attributes and how they apply at Three Rivers Grace Church.
We need to have a biblical understanding of church membership. This is especially conveyed in the membership class of our church. It is essential for those who seek to become members of our congregation to know what our purpose and mission is and that they commit to be faithful members of the church. Mark Dever does a top notch job in this section, and I cannot do it justice in just a few lines.
Biblical church discipline is sorely missing in a multitude of churches today. This should not be and would not have been tolerated in first century Christianity as made clear by the New Testament. As painful as discipline can be, it is necessary for our growth. We need to be able to rely on our brothers and sisters to hold us accountable because we are too blind to see some sin in our lives. This is another one of Dever’s hallmark chapters of the book.
A concern for discipleship and growth is a philosophy that runs deep at Three Rivers. For this reason, there are several small groups located in various communities around our church where we can gather for a more informal, yet intimate atmosphere of communion as believers in Christ. The Women’s ministry offers a Bible study in the spring and fall, and the men have an early prayer and Bible study meeting every Tuesday. Please take a look at our website for a complete listing of these activities and details.
Lastly, we need to look at biblical church leadership. Church leaders need to be selected according to the guidelines listed in 1 Timothy chapter 3 and Titus 2. At Three Rivers, we do just that. Leadership as seen by the world and leadership as seen through the lens of Scripture can differ greatly. Following these guidelines and nominating godly, quality leaders for elder and deacon positions will ensure that our congregation will be lead with integrity in the future.
Please give consideration to reading this book. Our church has identified itself on the church directory listing of Nine Marks website. After reading this book, you will see why.