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The Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry on the Gospel Paperback – September 9, 2005
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"We want to be careful about allowing God's Word to set our trajectory, power our progress, and govern our methods."
"Here is one of the most faithful and insightful pastors of our time, addressing the most crucial issues of church life. Mark Dever refuses to separate theology and congregational life, combining pastoral insight with clear biblical teaching. This book is a powerful antidote to the merely pragmatic approaches of our day-and a refutation to those who argue that theology just isn't practical."
—R. Albert Mohler Jr., President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
"This book is the perfect example of what a truly practical book on church health and growth should be-it gives concrete guidance for and examples of biblical principles being put into practice in the life and ministry of the local congregation."
—J. Ligon Duncan III, Chancellor, CEO, and John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary
"Rare indeed are books on the church that begin with the Gospel. Rarer still are books that derive methodology for building the church from the Gospel. This excellent book does both."
—C.J. Mahaney, Senior Pastor, Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville
"The Deliberate Church shares many of the ministry lessons that Dr. Dever and his colleagues have learned from Scripture and sought to implement in the life of their church community. This book is for anyone who wants to get serious about following the biblical pattern for the church and is looking for down-to-earth practical help."
—Philip Graham Ryken, President, Wheaton College
"Here is a novel idea: use the Bible as a handbook to gather and guide the church! And The Deliberate Church is a novel volume indeed, standing amid the spate of 'church-as-corporation, pastor-as-CEO' manuals that glut church life. Here is a book that wafts a radical, refreshing breeze from the pages of Scripture that will breathe life into the church. A crucial read."
—R. Kent Hughes, Professor of Practical Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary
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This book is amazing in its practical instruction on certain issues, even the particulars of how to run an elders meeting. So, it is truly designed for use throughout one's ministry and to be used almost as an encyclopedia of sorts of a "how to" for the local church. The book is broken up into four parts:
Part I: Gathering the Church
In general this section focuses on expository preaching, prayer, missions, membership and discipline
Part II: When the Church Gathers
This section focuses on worship and the regulative principle of worship, the ordinances, the role of the pastor, etc.
Part III: Gathering Elders
This section focuses on things such as the biblical mandate for elders, the searching for those men, staffing, etc.
Part IV: When the Elders Gather
This section is very practical and walks through how Dever's church handles elder meetings and the role of the lead pastor in those meetings. Very practical.
All in all this is a great book. I do not agree with every aspect of it, but those that I don't agree with I never felt as though Dever was "pushing his convictions" but was just putting them forth. This is great to see a man of God just showing the way their church do things without purporting it as the ONLY way, but A way. Very encouraging to see and more understanding of why Dever has been so successful in starting and maintaining the ministry of "Together for the Gospel" with others that don't see eye to eye with him on every aspect of the non-essentials.
I would very much like to see this book on the top of every list of books that pastors are ready and wanting to read. Very much needed book when the next great "how to grow your church no matter what" is probably just around another corner.
Since the Bible doesn't instruct us to rely on the latest church fad, growth strategy, ministry technique, or business mindset to build God's church, this book is unafraid to make that clear--getting right into the battle for the sake of gospel-centered ministries.
The only reason I put 4 stars instead of 5 is because the book is geared more about being a pastor or an elder than the title may suggest. If you're just a committed church-goer who's seeking gospel-centered changes in a church leadership structure that's resistant to change, this book does not give you very many specifics on exactly what to do about that. It already assumes that you're in a position to give direction in a church.
Nonetheless, it's still useful for anyone who wishes to know what makes up a true, biblically-minded church leader and why biblical church functions are essential. It's definitely a book I'd recommend to any church leader or just anyone who wishes to know more about what a gospel-centered church should look like.
Rev. M. J. Moss