The sermon yesterday dealt with the issue of denominations and the question as to why there are so many groups and churches. The answer to this is a deep and complicated issue, but the core idea is that God is building his church, and in the end He has one people even though they meet in various places using various styles and reaching various cultures. God has called every follower of Jesus to be a member of a local church and to invest their lives in the cause of the Gospel at their church. No church is perfect. If you find a perfect church, whatever you do don’t join it or get involved because you will mess it up! But churches can be more or less healthy than others. Before getting involved or joining any church any Christ-follower should check to see if the church demonstrates faithfulness to the Scriptural mandates for the church and shows signs of church health. The following are three lists of the signs we should look for, one from Mark Dever and Nine Marks Ministries, the second from Wayne Grudem in his book Systematic Theology, and the third from Mark Driscoll’s book Vintage Church.
Compare the lists and you will find that they share several of the same thoughts. If you are a member of Genesis, we ask that you pray that God would lead us toward health in these categories and ask that you hold us accountable when we are not. If at any point in time you are looking for a church home find a church that is striving to be healthy, pure, and true. Run from churches that do not value the majority of the things in these lists.
9 Marks of a Healthy Church
- Expositional preaching. Does the pastor preach God’s Word, or his own ideas? Does he allow Scripture to set his preaching agenda, or does he pick topics by some other criteria?
- Biblical theology. Does the church openly confess key biblical doctrines? Do the leaders consistently teach sound doctrine?
- A biblical understanding of the gospel. Does the church clearly proclaim the good news about what Jesus Christ accomplished for sinners in his death and resurrection? Consistently?
- A biblical understanding of conversion. Does the church teach that people must be born again in order to enter the kingdom of God (John 3:1-8)? Does the church teach that in order to become a Christian, a person must repent of sin and trust in Christ, both of which are ultimately gifts of God?
- A biblical understanding of evangelism. Does the church preach the gospel to non-Christians and encourage its members to do the same? Does it understand that it’s our responsibility to preach the message of salvation yet God is the only one who can do the saving?
- Biblical church membership. Does the church take membership seriously by seeking to ensure that its members faithfully attend? Does it encourage members to fulfill the biblical “one-anothers” with each other?
- Biblical church discipline. Does the church lovingly, patiently practice church discipline?
- Biblical discipleship and growth. Does the church expect and equip its members to grow spiritually? Does the church encourage its members to disciple one another? Growing as a Christian should be normal, not exceptional.
- Biblical church leadership. Is the church led by godly, qualified men? Does the church look to Scripture to determine its leadership structure?
Signs of a More Pure Church from Systematic Theology (p. 874)
- Biblical doctrine (or right preaching of the Word)
- Proper use of the Sacraments
- Right use of church discipline
- Genuine worship
- Effective prayer
- Effective witness
- Effective fellowship
- Biblical church government
- Spiritual power in ministry
- Personal holiness of life among members
- Care for the poor
- Love of Christ
A true church is one characterized by… (from Vintage Church)
- Regenerated church membership
- Qualified leadership
- Preaching and worship
- Rightly administered Sacraments
- Spirit unity
- The Great Commandment to love
- The Great Commission to evangelize and make disciples