Book Review: Baptist Foundations: Church Government for an Anti-Institutional Age

Baptist Foundations: Church Government for an Anti-Institutional AgeBaptist Foundations: Church Government for an Anti-Institutional Age by Mark Dever
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is a collation of chapters from various contributors primarily centering around church polity. The book makes a strong argument for congregationalist polity. Some parts of the book are better than others and some parts I sharply disagreed with. Overall, I think it is a useful read and could help to think about some of these issues from different perspectives.

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Book Review: The Marks of a Spiritual Leader

The Marks of a Spiritual LeaderThe Marks of a Spiritual Leader by John Piper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This booklet has some gold in it. Piper breaks it into two parts–inner and outer. The inner has to do with the self-watch of the spiritual leader and the outer has more to do with the leadership of others. I like the focus from the start that spiritual leadership is to help people glorify God.

The second part is particularly useful as Piper lists 18 marks of a spiritual leader. These are principles drawn from Scripture and helpful in at least two ways. First, a man who is in leadership or is wrestling with his calling into leadership can be helped by thinking through these marks with honest self-examination of whether he has these or not. Second, the marks are useful in identifying others in the church who may potentially be leaders. Perhaps a third use would be the congregation being equipped in what to look for and expect from spiritual leaders.

As with anything from Piper, there are odd statements here and there. Nevertheless, this is a useful little book.

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Book Review: Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons

Finding Faithful Elders and DeaconsFinding Faithful Elders and Deacons by Thabiti M. Anyabwile
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a practical treatment and resource on elders and deacons. Anyabwile’s writing is accessible, plain, and not overbearing. We often do not think of our responsibility in “finding” such men as candidates for elders and deacons. We suppose they will just appear or be brought to us ready to go, even though Paul instructed Timothy differently. How do we go about identifying and preparing men for these vital roles in the congregation? This book is written to answer that question and does so ably and practically.

The book is also useful for those already in these roles. As the author works through the various issues and qualities required of a man in these offices, you will be convicted and challenged. You will recognize places where you fall short, and, if you’re like me, feel it painfully. The practical nature of the book and the advice given helps give a roadmap for identifying weaknesses and moving toward growth and faithfulness.

Pastors, deacons, and church members can all be benefited from reading this book. Men who are wrestling with these offices and calls to service will also be benefited from reading this book.

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Book Review: Gospel-Centred Church: Becoming the Community God Wants You to Be

Gospel-Centred ChurchGospel-Centred Church by Steve Timmis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a practical treatment of Gospel-centeredness in a church. “Gospel-Centered” is a buzz word you see and hear a lot. Not everyone means the same thing by it and there are reasons to be very cautious with the approach. Though not agreeing with everything, I think Timmis and Chester are using it mostly right–how the Gospel shapes and directs the community of the church, including discipleship, evangelism, etc.

The book is designed as a study, so there are questions for discussion and such. It would be a good study for groups to work through. Some things will seem outlandish, but hear them out. I assure you will be challenged and convicted. The authors goal is not to give a church template but to help direct focus and provoke strategic thinking.

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Review: Conversion: How God Creates a People

Conversion: How God Creates a People (9Marks: Building Healthy Churches)Conversion: How God Creates a People by Michael Lawrence
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is an excellent, brief treatment of the subject. Christians in general wobble between extremes on what conversion is and does in the life of a convert. Michael Lawrence speaks clearly on repentance, faith, change of life, holiness, etc. He treats conversion as the life and death matter it truly is. Lawrence also places conversion in the context of the local church, which is rarely done.

The author has called us to a clearer presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the cost of discipleship. It’s a book I would want every Christian to read and consider, but especially pastors.

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