I’ve been re-reading ‘The Deliberate Church’ by Mark Dever and Paul Alexander. I downloaded it for a couple of bucks and it’s kinda the ‘hands on’ partner that goes with ‘9 Marks of a Healthy Church’…how to practically put the marks into action…how to make the ideas in the head take the elevator down and move to action in the feet.
The story is told of when Mark was candidating at Capitol Hills Baptist and he was asked if he had a program or plan. He didn’t have a program or plan but instead he would come armed to the teeth with four biblical p’s: preaching, praying, personal discipleship, and patience. It ain’t rocket science but we have come up with so many ideas about what we need to offer when what we really need to do, in church world, is hunker down and stick to the basics…over a long haul. Too many times we get our neck in a knot if things don’t happen in six months or in six years.
preaching – Paul charged Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2 to preach the Word. I see a lot of talking and hear of a lot of talking coming from pulpits in North America and the question I ask is how much of it is truly biblical preaching. Pastors side-step around tough topics because it doesn’t tickle people’s ears. One of the things that true preaching does is separate the sheep from the goats. True believers will say ‘bring it pastor, even if it hurts because it’s for God’s glory and for my good.’
praying – When some of the practical needs weren’t being met in Acts 6, the twelve found men who could respond to those needs and they kept at it with the Word and prayer. David Platt mentioned at Together for the Gospel that there was a good increase in theology and Bible over the last season but as for prayer, not so much…but we need it…more than we realize. If we can do nothing without Him, and we can’t (John 15:5), we need to re-prioritize what the early believers knew so well.
personal discipleship – The great commission (Matthew 28:18-20) says that we are to be about making disciples but what many churches are doing is making consumers by giving the pew sitter what they want, instead of what they need. It’s a shame to God’s glory when grey-haired church members who have heard and read the Word for years but they act like spoiled babies…and it’s not just the seniors that are guilty of this! Your pulpit ministry can be rocking along but private ministry needs to back up the public ministry…the Word and prayer in people’s homes and in coffee shops and in backyards. Time needs to be invested where members are getting together with other members with their Bibles open. Small groups and one-on-one discipleship is so key to add support and strength that backs up the Sunday morning message.
patience – We heard C.J. Mahaney preach at Together for the Gospel a couple of years ago and his text was 2 Timothy 4:1-5 and his emphasis was three words in :2: with complete patience. Some pastors like to drive fast for the hoop and they have their arm out to block all opposition to make the basket…but too many quick trips to the hoop and you look around and you’ll find that you’re the only one in the game…you will find that you don’t have a team and you’re playing solo.
Some may notice that I didn’t mention evangelism…but if the Word is being unlocked on Sunday morning and people are seeing who God is, they will be gripped by His gospel and by His glory and by His grace and you will need a muzzle to keep them from sharing their God with unbelievers. It may take some training and time and prayer but good preaching about Jesus leads to telling unbelievers about Jesus.
The North American church is full of gadgets and gizmos that need to be taken to the curb. Pastors and members would do well to remember preaching, praying, personal discipleship, and patience…and over the haul, you may see a church blossom to bring much more glory to the Lord. Remember, Jesus did promise to build His church.