Mark #8 of a Healthy Church: A Concern for Discipleship and Growth

Chances are, we all know someone who made a confession of faith at one time but now displays no evidences of conversion. Her church attendance is sporadic and her Bible knowledge sketchy. Worse yet, she shows absolutely no interest in spiritual growth. She prayed a prayer, punched her ticket to Heaven, and now she's living her life as if it never made a difference. Because it hasn't.

I know too many of those people. They fill pews, choir lofts, and leadership positions in many churches - churches that are not concerned for discipleship and growth, the 8th mark of a healthy church.

How does a church promote discipleship and growth in its members? Mark Dever explains that the other eight "marks" of a healthy church have an effect on the growth we will experience, individually and as a church.

Expositional Preaching focuses on God's Word. Dever says the church is built upon "hearing God's Word speak to us as His Holy Spirit uses it in our hearts. Through His Word, we come to know more of God and of His character than you or I could ever guess or suppose." (p. 206)
There will not be any great reformation in our churches or our personal lives if [spiritual] thirst is absent. If we are content to hear one sermon a week lasting twenty minutes, then we are displaying a condition of spiritual sickness. Unless we cultivate an appetite for the exposition of Scripture, we will never grow as Christians. Instead of being among those who are always wanting less exposition, we should be among those always desiring more.
Biblical Theology helps us "understand more of the truth about God and about us...We are encouraged by seeing the big picture, the plan, the meaning. We see more of God's character. We begin to grow in our knowledge of Him. We begin to trust Him more." (Dever, p. 206) 

A chuch that has a Biblical Understanding of the Gospel "will help you grow in confidence as you know the love of God. Indeed you cannot help but grow as you understand more and more of what God has done for you in Christ." (p. 208)

"As we begin to recognize our own salvation as the fruit of God's work in our lives, we're not even tempted to feel the wrong kind of pride in our spiritual life, because we have understood from the Bible what conversion is. We have understood more of what a true Christian is, and how we become one - by the grace of God." (p.209). This is why a healthy church must have a Biblical understanding of conversion.

Closely related is a Biblical understanding of evangelism. Dever states, "When we begin to understand more of what the Bible teaches about evangelism, we will begin to trust God in helping us to spread the Good News. We will feel more like obeying Him as we realize that it is not our duty to convert anyone but simply to faithfully tell the news." (p. 209)

A church with a Biblical understanding of church membership realizes that in "dealing with each other, we are forced to deal with ares of our lives that we would otherwise avoid...God doesn't call us to run this race alone. Being rooted in a church also encourages accountability." (p. 210)

It is important for a church to have a Biblical understanding of church discipline because an "unintended consequence of a church's neglect of proper discipline is that it gets much harder to produce disciples. In an undisciplined church, examples are unclear and models are confused." (p. 210)

Finally, attending a church with a Biblical understanding of church leadership is important because "[a]s God brings people into our lives whom He has called to be spiritual leaders, we gain practical role models and godly vision." (p. 211)

The Lord blessed my family by allowing us to find a church that displays these eight marks of a healthy church. As a result, we're growing spiritually and learning to follow Jesus better.

This summer, I'm blogging through Nine Marks of a Healthy Church. Find out why here.


  1. This is such a passion of mine. Thanks for laying it out so well, Melissa.


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