Thursday Morning: Mark Dever -- "Creating a Culture of Discipling"

After singing "Day by Day," Tim Jordan invited Mark Dever to the platform. Another of his pastoral interns, Tripp, shared his testimony of faith in Christ and then Mark began his message.

Introduction:

  • At the Garden, the basic lie was that God could not be loving and still tell us no.
  • The temptation is to believe that there is no such thing as authority in a fallen world other than authoritarianism.
  • The truth is God is wonderful, all-powerful, and good, entirely to be trusted.
  • We want to use whatever authority He has given us to do good.
  • I want to talk about one fruitful way we should influence others.
  • I want to do three things
    • Think about the idea of growing members (growth)
    • Practical ways to grow disciples (discipleship)
    • What I personally do to try to grow disciples (mentoring)

1. Growth

  • Isa. 9:7, the Bible promises that God’s kingdom will grow.
  • 1 Thess. 3:11, when was the last time you prayed this way for your congregation…publicly?
  • Col. 1:10, this is what we want to see in our churches.
  • The church has an obligation to be a means of God’s growing people through grace.
  • 1 Cor. 3:6; 2 Pet. 3:18; Matt. 5:16

2. Discipleship (Membership)

  • A 12-step process to recover church membership:

    • Regularly proclaim the Gospel in your preaching.
    • Have and use a congregationally-agreed-upon statement of faith and covenant.
    • Require attendance at membership classes.  It is a loving thing to present carefully the expectations that others will have of you and they of the congregation.
    • Require an interview after the membership class before they are recommended to the congregation.
    • Stop baptizing and admitting children into formal church membership. The question I’m raising is not whether a child can confess Christ; the question is one of the congregation’s ability to discern.  The large number of nominal Christians and re-baptisms in the church seems to bear out this concern.
    • Realize that admission into church membership is an act of the congregation. Nobody can resign their membership.  It was a mutual agreement.
    • Publish a directory regularly.  Use it as a prayer list.
    • Give pastoral oversight to the members.
    • Work to create a culture of discipleship in the church. Encourage members to deliberately to give themselves in love to each other.  Use the staff not so much to disciple but to facilitate discipleship.
    • Limit some activities to members of the church.
    • Only after membership is recovered, begin to practice discipline.
    • Recover something of the grandness of God’s plan.  Pray for other Bible-believing churches in your services. Meditate on Hebrews 13:17. Consider the serious of this accounting we will give to God. Continued membership in our churches is giving assurance of salvation, so it’s serious accountability. The Lord will say finally who is a member of His Church.
    • John Brown in a letter of paternal counsels to one of his pupils newly ordained over a small congregation: – “I know the vanity of your heart, and that you will feel mortified that your congregation is very small, in comparison with those of your brethren around you; but assure yourself on the word of an old man, that when you come to give an account of them to the Lord Christ, at his judgment-seat, you will think you have had enough.”

3. Mentoring (Following Jesus)

  • 9 Marks for Identifying Elders (Titus 1:5; 2 Tim. 2:2 — four generations in one verse, shows fascinating foresight, unlike many pastors just thinking about their own retirement). I’m just getting my church ready for the next guy.

    • Look for the biblical qualifications (1 Tim. 3; Tit. 1) – recognize that these are not exhaustive lists, e.g., nothing about quiet times, or lust, or leadership qualities, etc.
    • Look for who God is raising up around you. Have a deep confidence in this.  The future of your church does not depend on you; it depends on God. Christ will build His Church.
    • Trust. (1 Cor. 13:4-7)
    • Give personal time to them. Don’t build walls around yourself.  Your example is part of what God intends to use. (Heb. 13:7) Use people to help you prepare sermons and help you refine your manuscript prior to its delivery.
    • Delegate. I need to cultivate the respect of the congregation for other leaders. Be generous in giving young men opportunities to teach. That is not you defaulting your responsibility.
    • Feedback. Model giving godly criticism. Paul begins 1 Corinthians with encouragement. Receive godly criticism with humility. 
    • Authority. We need to teach the truth about complementarianism in our churches.  In churches that are clear about men leading, men step forward.
    • Clarity. With clear teaching on doctrine and truth, explaining why we do things, it attracts leaders.
    • Humility. Be the kind of pastor who rejoices in the leading of others; don’t be threatened by it. We need to spend more time preaching the Word and less time showcasing our special gifts. Pray for humility, that God would get glory in His Church.
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There are 5 Comments

Jonathan Charles's picture

Brian McCrorie wrote:
Stop baptizing and admitting children into formal church membership. The question I’m raising is not whether a child can confess Christ; the question is one of the congregation’s ability to discern.  The large number of nominal Christians and re-baptisms in the church seems to bear out this concern.

At what point would you baptize a person? 18, 21? How much easier is it to discern a genuine conversion at 21 than at 9? I suppose that Dever's church would require membership class before baptism, and perhaps that gives the opportunity to see some evidence. Children are too often the main targets for evangelism by churches that like to put up big numbers, and while I don't want to advocate anything done by those who abuse child-evangelism to get baptism numbers, I think it may be going too far to forbid a child baptism. It surely has to be handled with wisdom.

Jonathan Charles's picture

Brian McCrorie wrote:
Realize that admission into church membership is an act of the congregation. Nobody can resign their membership.  It was a mutual agreement.

But how do you enforce this?? The membership covenant might give steps for leaving the membership, like an exit interview with the elders. Or one might bind himself or herself to the process of church discipline. But when a individual/family wants to leave, how do you enforce that they agreed to certain things before they can be released from the church? It is surely a matter of integrity on the part of those who agreed to the covenant, but if, for whatever reason, they want nothing more to do with the church, what can the church do? I guess you can practice church discipline, but what will they care?

Shaynus's picture

Was the intern who gave his testimony Tripp. . . as in Tripp Lee, the reformed rapper? Gotta love the blessed irony there. That guy is a soul winner in DC from what I've heard.

Shaynus's picture

Jonathan Charles wrote:
Brian McCrorie wrote:
Realize that admission into church membership is an act of the congregation. Nobody can resign their membership.  It was a mutual agreement.

But how do you enforce this?? The membership covenant might give steps for leaving the membership, like an exit interview with the elders. Or one might bind himself or herself to the process of church discipline. But when a individual/family wants to leave, how do you enforce that they agreed to certain things before they can be released from the church? It is surely a matter of integrity on the part of those who agreed to the covenant, but if, for whatever reason, they want nothing more to do with the church, what can the church do? I guess you can practice church discipline, but what will they care?

Jonathan Charles,

I was a member at Capitol Hill Baptist for several years, but I'm from a fundamental, BJU background. The way it works in practice is that if a member moves on to a different church, they send in a letter or email of resignation that tells the elders where they will be going next. At the next congregational meeting, the resignation is summarized to the congregation. Normally there isn't a problem. For example a resignation might say "we felt that such and such a church would be better for our family because of the long distance" or "we are moving to Charlotte NC and hope to join ______ church." The key there is that members who were in some kind of discipline couldn't just resign by themselves in an attempt to get the church body to pursue them. I remember one case in which this happened with a member under church discipline, and the member was even a lawyer. The church stuck to their guns and still did not allow the member to resign, but rather continued to pursue them until finally there was a putting out of the church.