What Is A Healthy Church by Mark Dever, 2007.
What is A Healthy Church is a compact book with a lot of powerful truths. Don't be fooled by its small size, this is not a fluffy book. Who is it for? Anyone and everyone that attends a church. (It is written for pastors and leaders, sure, but it is ALSO written for the congregation at large.)
The first four chapters talk about a Christian's role within the church. How every person who calls himself (or herself) a Christian should be in a committed relationship with a particular church. He stresses the fact that the church is a PEOPLE and not a place. (A church is also not a music style.) He states over and over again how we as Christians are called to be in relationship to one another--called to love one another despite of or in spite of our flaws. We're sinners. We're all sinners. But we're called to be a family. A united family. Honestly, if you're not convicted by reading these chapters, I don't know what's wrong with you.
The next three chapters deal with the first three signs (or marks) of a healthy church. These first three marks are according to Dever the essential ones. The ones where if you're church is lacking or in error, then you're in serious trouble.
1) Expositional Preaching.
2) Biblical Theology.
3) Biblical Understanding of the Gospel
The last six chapters deal with the remaining six marks of a healthy church. These are marks that are deemed important but not essential. You might notice how these marks relate to one another...and how a deficiency in one often leads to widespread problems.
4) Biblical Understanding of Conversion
5) Biblical Understanding of Evangelism
6) Biblical Understanding of Membership
7) Biblical Church Discipline
8) Biblical Discipleship & Growth
9) Biblical Church Leadership
I highly recommend What is A Healthy Church. It is incredible book. Just incredible.
As we gather to worship God and exercise love and good deeds toward one another, we demonstrate in real life, you might say, the fact that God has reconciled us to himself and to one another. We demonstrate to the world that we have been changed, not primarily because because we memorize Bible verses, pray before meals, tithe a portion of our income, and listen to Christian radio stations, but because we increasingly show a willingness to put up with, to forgive, and even to love a bunch of fellow sinners. You and I cannot demonstrate love or joy or peace or patience or kindness sitting all by ourselves on an island. No, we demonstrate it when the people we have committed to loving give us good reasons not to love them, but we do anyway. Do you see it? It's right there--right in the midst of a group of sinners who have committed to loving one another--that the gospel is displayed. The church gives a visual presentation of the gospel when we forgive one another as Christ has forgiven us, when we commit to one another as Christ has committed to us, and when we lay down our lives for one another as Christ laid down his life for us. Together we can display the gospel of Jesus Christ in a way we just can't by ourselves. (28-29)