Since there are no perfect churches, most pastors struggle with how to motivate productive change in their congregations. How to accomplish this is the topic of numerous classes, conferences, and books, and being able to temper the desire to change with patience can mean the difference between a short and long pastorate. It is almost maddening for a pastor to keep up with all the latest trends, and even more difficult for a church to follow the frantic pace of a pastor grasping at straws.

For many, one of the hallmark books pointing in the right direction is Nine Marks of a Healthy Church. In it, Mark Dever gives the following as marks of a healthy, Biblical church:

Expository preaching
Biblical theology
A Biblical understanding of the Gospel
A Biblical understanding of conversion
A Biblical understanding of evangelism
Biblical church discipline
Biblical discipleship
Biblical church leadership

Many of those who enjoyed Nine Marks may have been able to effect a few of those. After all, a pastor can most likely determine if he will preach expository sermons, and can present the Gospel in such a way that the church develops a Biblical understanding of it, conversion, and evangelism over time. However, a church that displays all nine marks of a healthy church seems out of reach.

That is where The Deliberate Church by Mark Dever and Paul Alexander comes in. Consider this to be the “how-to” guide for Nine Marks. Addressing issues of structure and leadership, Dever and Alexander show practical steps a church can take towards becoming a healthy church.

This is more than just a step by step guide. The real answers lie in theology. Dever and Alexander go to the heart of how a church is defined. This book helps a church leader to question how the membership is defined and guarded as well as what the church does when it gathers together. However, the root is deeper still to the leadership.

Churches rarely grow past the maturity of the leaders. It may be possible, but it is certainly not likely(p. 143)

For this reason, healthy and productive change in a church will only come through a mature leadership. Many churches are hamstringed by unbiblical leadership models and immature leaders. In The Deliberate Church, Dever and Alexander help to identify these problems and give practical insight for calling mature leaders and working within church leadership in a healthy way.

I highly recommend this book for church leaders and laypeople alike. This book is rich in both sound theology and practical application. It is reasonable, mature instruction is a sometimes frantic and crowded field.