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9Marks Explained : A Letter From Mark Dever

Jonathan Leeman

Blog posts by Jonathan Leeman:

Twenty-Two Problems with Multi-site Churches

I love my gospel-loving friends in multi-site churches—both leaders and members! But as Christians we work continually to reform our churches in light of Scripture. So I trust a little push back on the multi-site structure serves everyone, assuming my concerns turn out to be valid. Below are 22 misgivings I have about the multi-site model. All of these are of potential relevance to churches that use a video preacher.

How Biblical Theology Guards and Guides the Church

Biblical theology is a way of reading the Bible. It is a hermeneutic. It assumes that Scripture’s many authors and many books are telling one story by one divine author—about Christ.

Sound slightly academic? It is, but…

The discipline of biblical theology is essential to guarding and guiding your church. It guards churches against false stories and wrong paths. It guides the church toward better preaching, better practices, better paths.

Good Writing, Archetypes, and the Glory of Christ

Good writing, says Roy Peter Clark in his excellent Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, doesn't employ stereotypes, but stands on the foundation of the classic story archetypes. It uses those archetypes to manipulate, frustrate, or fulfill reader expectations in novel ways. 

He then lists a number of the classic narrative archetypes:

When You Should NOT Submit to a Church

All of us will, at times, be called to endure humbly a leader’s mistakes and sins. Nonetheless, should you find yourself in a church where the leadership is characteristically abusive, I would, in most cases, encourage you to flee. Flee to protect your discipleship, to protect your family, to set a good example for the members left behind, to serve non-Christian neighbors by not lending credibility to the church’s ministry.

What Does "First Among Equals" Mean on an Elder Board

A non-staff elder friend from another church recently emailed me this question:

I need an education on the topic of "first among equals" as it relates to elders. I am struggling at times to find my way. I know that God has me here for a reason, and I know that it will take work to go from years of one man leading, to two men, to three, and so on. I know the challenges of working to change culture. I really want to make sure my understanding and heart are in the right place as I talk with the others...Any tips?

"Open Membership" for Baptists? No Such Thing

The Gospel Coalition serves the Christian community by allowing saints who have different views on matters of polity to come together to discuss those matters. Polity is a difficult topic but an important one, so it’s good that we have a chance to think through those differences.

Six Principles For Youth Ministry

“What does your church do for middle and high school students?” A pastor friend recently asked this question.

I have no special expertise with youth, and I tend to think there is some measure of programmatic flexibility. Do you host a weekly event? Who is it for? What do you do? Special projects or trips? I will leave that for you to sort out.

But here are a few biblical principles that we should heed no matter what, and my sense is the many youth groups don’t heed them.

Why We Sing

At my church’s Sunday gathering, the preacher and everyone leading the service sits on the stage facing the congregation.

In the past, I’ve been tempted to wonder if they’re really worshipping, or just looking around. Doesn’t someone who is really worshipping close his eyes, put up his hands, and wear an expression of rapture?

My Congregation Barely Sings; How Can I Help?

Spend some time with members of a Khosa church in South Africa, and you will quickly discover how wonderfully they sing. No instruments. No microphones. One individual leading, the rest following. Many hands clapping. And how they join their voices in full-throated praise!

The Two Paths Out of Trials

There are two paths for people to take in the midst of trials. They can take the path of self-reliance or the path of trusting in God.

The path of self-reliance sometimes sounds like angry recriminations against God, sometimes an upbeat can-do attitude. But in both cases God is rejected. Maybe he didn't cause the trial, but he surely could have prevented it. So he is charged, convicted, and imprisoned.