Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. has written a wonderful book that helps leaders in the church “keep the main thing, the main thing.” In the book he describes the essential indicators of a healthy church.
The first mark of a healthy church according to Dever is expositional preaching. Expositional preaching is not like a topical preaching which tends to focus on a particular theme and then search for Scriptures on that theme. Expositional preaching is unpacking for your congregation word by word, verse by verse what the Word of God is saying.
Dever says that expositional preaching “is preaching in service to the Word. It presumes a belief in the authority of Scripture – that the Bible is actually God’s Word… A commitment to expositional preaching is a commitment to hear God’s Word-not just to affirm it is God’s Word but to actually submit to it.” (40-41) Expositional preaching allows the Word of God to have an important place in the worship service. It demonstrates to the church the importance and centrality of Scripture to everything the church does from week to week.
Dever remarks: “In the final analysis the people of God, the church of God, can only be created around the Word of God. Asked about his accomplishments as a Reformer, Martin Luther said, ‘I simply taught, preached, wrote God’s Word: otherwise I did nothing…The Word did it all.’ The Word of God brings life.” (50)
Notice in your worship service the prominence of the Word of God. Many churches who say they are Bible-believing churches do not use it very much when they are gathered together for worship. Mark Dever does an excellent job in his chapter on expositional preaching of explaining what this type of preaching is and how preaching in this manner can transform your church.
Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, Mark Dever. Crossway Books, 2004. ISBN 1-58134-631-X. Also visit this website for more information: www.9marks.org.