I have come to appreciate 9 Marks ministries through the years. I don’t exactly remember when I discovered ‘9 Marks of a Healthy Church’ by Mark Dever but they have established a firm foundation for me as I think about ministry. I have embraced the nine marks because they are biblical, I have used them as my grid for ministry, and they are key marks that are in my DNA as I seek a church for the future. Back when I started this blog, I wrote a series of posts on each of the nine marks. I am grateful that my pastor has embraced the nine marks as well.
The nine marks are as follows: 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 leadership. They admit that they could have added prayer to the mix, but they stopped at nine. These nine are not sexy but they are solid. If I were to recommend a good tool for the young up-and-coming pastor, a middled- aged board chair, or an older saint…or anyone in between…it would be their resources. I would say ‘taste, savour, embrace, and enjoy.’
They have weekend teaching sessions, books, a website, and an on-line journal that comes out every once in a while. Some of their authors include Mark Dever, Jonathan Leeman, Thabiti Anyabwile, Mike McKinley, and Greg Gilbert. Most of my books have been in storage for the last year but ‘9 Marks of a Healthy Church’ made it to the ‘don’t pack them away’ pile.
Of all the resources available, they have now added again to their helps for pastors and churches. They now have 9 Marks Mailbag where they respond to ministry questions. I have cut and pasted the following question and answer from their mailbag. It was a question that many people are asking and it had a good solid answer. I have included a link to the Mailbag blog at the bottom.
What’s wrong with two styles of services—one contemporary and one traditional?
At the TGC conference during one of the workshops, Mark Dever made a comment about getting away from multiple church-services and having one service. He also mentioned that splitting services into traditional and contemporary services was actually worse than simply having two services that were the same. Would you be able to expound on that?
Good question, Gabe. The problem with two services, to paint in super broad strokes, is that it divides the church. The problem with two services with different styles is that it divides the church generationally (or according to some other natural human division). The power of the gospel should be displayed in the life of a church by breaking down the walls of division which ordinarily divide human beings: male/female, Jew/Gentile, slave/free, young/old, rich/poor, Republican/Democrat, Serbian/Croatian, Hutu/Tutsi, you get the point. In fact, says Paul, the manifold wisdom of God is made evident right here—in the tearing down of these dividing walls of partition (see Eph. 2:11-3:10).
So why would a church want to programmatize generational division? That’s what always happens. The young go in one direction, the old go in another.
What it tells you, furthermore, is that the church is employing man-made devices (like musical style) to attract people and to build unity. They are not relying on the power of the gospel. To put it another way, they are affirming people in their consumerism: “Don’t come here for what you can give; come for what you can get. We’ll cater to you and your preferences!” That’s an anti-lay-down-your-life-like-Jesus lesson.
Finally, two styles weakens the life-giving fellowship that old and young should be able to share with one another in the church. The young should avail themselves of the wisdom of the old, and the old should seek to pour into the young. Each member of the body should own the honor and dishonor of every other member. But your two-style-of-service structure teaches them they can ignore the other half. It robs both sides of fellowship and discipling opportunities.
You can link to the 9 Marks Mailbag here: http://9marks.org/article/mailbag-7-cake-baking-principles-two-services-or-one-youth-pastors-a-discipline-issue/