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Book Review – What Is A Healthy Church Member?

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There are many books available today that address the needs, the responsibilities and the health of the local church. While The Purpose Driven Church is probably the best-known of these, there are plenty of others as well, many of which were written in the aftermath of that book’s unparalleled success. To this point the books have been largely focused at pastors and church leaders.

Where many books have been written describing a healthy church (among the most useful of which are Mark Dever’s Nine Marks of a Healthy Church and The Deliberate Church), I cannot think of any that describe the state of a healthy church member. But that has changed with Thabiti Anyabwile’s new book What is a Healthy Church Member? In this small 120-page book, Anyabwile one-ups Mark Dever’s nine marks of a healthy church by providing ten marks of a healthy church member. The goals for this volume are made plain early-on. “This little book is written,” he says in the Introduction, “in the hope that you might discover or rediscover what it means to be a healthy member of a local church, and what it means to contribute to the overall health of the church. … While Nine Marks of a Healthy Church primarily addressed pastors in the task of church reform, this book seeks to address the people that pastors lead and to encourage those people to play their part in helping the local church to increasingly reflect the glory of God.”

Here are the ten marks Anyabwile focuses on:

  1. A healthy church member is an expositional listener
  2. A healthy church member is a biblical theologian
  3. A healthy church member is gospel Saturated
  4. A healthy church member is genuinely converted
  5. A healthy church member is a biblical evangelist
  6. A healthy church member is a committed member
  7. A healthy church member seeks discipline
  8. A healthy church member is a growing disciple
  9. A healthy church member is a humble follower
  10. A healthy church member is a prayer warrior

Each of these ten marks receives a chapter-length treatment that concludes with questions for reflection and application. I do not think Anyabwile will be offended to read that I found little that is truly original in this book. There is little that has not been said elsewhere—Anyabwile offers nothing shockingly novel or original. Instead he turns to the basic requirements and responsibilities of those who seek to honor God through their commitment to the local church. He writes clearly and winsomely about these ten marks, encouraging Christians to be committed and to remain committed to their local churches. He gives them a list of marks, a list of characteristics, that they can use to gauge their effectiveness in serving Christ through His church.

While the book is valuable to individual readers, it is also ideally suited for small group study. In my church we often read books together and I am sure this is the kind of book the leadership is likely to consider for future study.

What Is A Healthy Church Member? is a valuable little volume and one I commend to you. Those who read it are sure to benefit from it.

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