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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Book Review

The Deliberate Church by Mark Dever and Paul Alexander

I wanted to pick this book up as soon as I heard about it, but I held off, hoping it would be included in our T4G goodies. I was thrilled when we arrived for the first session of the conference and this book was on every chair.

Mark Dever is an incredibly detailed and purposeful person. He is a strategist and a planner. I doubt that his life and ministry are filled with too many decisions based simply on "flying by the seat of your pants." His book reveals not only why he is deliberate, but also gives the practical steps he has implemented to acheive his deliberate goal.

The subtitle is "Building Your Ministry on the Gospel." Lately, I have been struck by how our fallen tendency is to think we move "beyond the gospel" as we mature in the Lord. The truth of the matter is, to move beyond is to move outside of the message of the gospel. Our calling is not to move beyond but to move deeper into. Christian maturity is evidenced by the more areas in our life that the gospel message dominates. Dever's book helps the church keep that perspective as well.

I appreciate Dever and Alexander's attention to how as well as what. We may preach one message, but the ways in which we baptize, incorporate members, discipline or minister may be sending a different message. In a way, Deliberate Chruch calls you to simplify, realizing the gospel should be the central message in all that you do. Yet, Deliberate Chruch also calls a Body to a renewed responsibility, realizing what a great task this is.

This book is written with a clarity that makes the theme very clear. Perspectives are strongly backed by Scripture to help you realize this is not merely opinion or suggestion, but God's calling upon His church. However, specifics of application are graciously written, making it clear when they are speaking in areas of preference, and also encouraging the pastor not to sever a church in some of these pursuits...but to be patient.

In many ways, this book was just what I needed to challenge me in my new position. It is not a book of programs or formulas to implement, but rather, it is a calling to keep "first things first." I think it should be a must read for any senior pastor and is strongly recommended for any teaching elder. If neither category applies to you, you may find yourself either frustrated by what you see in the book but not in your church or disinterested as much of the application wouldn't affect you.

I hope this book is on many seminarys' required reading lists, and I will strongly encourage that any church planters from our Body read it.

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