Saturday, August 8, 2009

What is a Healthy Church Member

A few years back Mark Dever wrote a book titled, The 9Marks of a Healthy Church. In his book he lists nine marks that should be present in a healthy church. His nine marks were: Expositional Preaching, Biblical Theology, The Gospel, A Biblical Understanding of Conversion, A Biblical Understanding of Evangelism, A Biblical Understanding of Church Membership, Biblical Church Discipline, A Concern for Discipleship and Growth, and Biblical Church Membership. These 9 Marks provide the foundation of a strong and healthy church.

Thabiti Anyabwile has written a followup book, What is a Healthy Church Member?" In his book he lists ten marks of a healthy church member. This is an important followup to Dever's earlier book. No church can be truly healthy without a healthy membership. According to Anyabwile a healthy church member is: An Expositional Listener, a Biblical Theologian, Gospel Saturated, Genuinely Converted, a Biblical Evangelist, a Committed Member, Seeks Discipline, a Growing Disciple, a Humble Follower, and a Prayer Warrior.

In our generation this book is a refreshing breath of fresh air. Anyabwile expresses the importance of the local church in the welfare of every Christian. The great weakness of Christianity today is the lack of emphasis on the importance of the local church. An unhealthy spirit of individualism is plaguing the church today. People hop from church to church according to their personal preferences. Some have abandoned the local church altogether choosing rather to gather in small home groups. Anyabwile writes of Joshua Harris's past attitude concerning the church: "He considered the church secondary, outmoded, inefficient, and a hindrance. It wasn't that he didn't love God or God's people. He just didn't think that belonging to a particular church was important, and might even be a hindrance." Part of the problem lies with the weakness of ecclesiastical understanding in many churches today. Many don't even maintain a membership. There is little accountability and discipline has become nearly extinct. Anyabwile stresses the necessity of church membership in the life of every believer.

Every believer has the duty to unite with a particular local church. Church membership is a covenant relationship among believers. Each of us have the duty to watch over one another and give ourselves to promoting the health of the church. Healthy church members seek to be expositional listeners who seek to hear what God's Word says so they can apply it to their lives. They seek to become Biblical theologians in order to protect themselves and the church from false doctrine. They are concerned about their own personal spiritual growth and that of other believers. They make sure they have a proper understanding of the Gospel and give themselves to bringing this Gospel to the lost. They support the leadership of the church praying for them as well as for each other.

I recommend this book as a reminder of the importance of the local church and our place in the church. It is an easy read of less than 120 pages that will prove beneficial as we seek to build Christ's church.

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