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9Marks Explained : A Letter From Mark Dever

What are you most looking for in a church?



Here are six reasons I was burdened to write Reverberation FOR CHURCH MEMBERS:

  1. For knowing what’s important when looking for a church. It’s easy to say the Bible is important to us, but a lot of things sure grab our attention when we walk into a church for the first time. Yet Jesus, talking to Martha, pointed to Mary sitting at his feet and said, “One thing is necessary.” Does he really mean us to be so singularly focused?  
  2. For becoming careful, opportunity-maximizing sermon listeners. It’s easy to say that we believe God’s Word is “true.” But it’s more than that: it’s illusion-exploding and reality-defining. Do we anticipate Sunday’s sermon knowing that it’s an opportunity to shed our illusory assumptions about life and grab onto God’s reality?
  3. For learning to engage the heart in our singing. It’s easy to say we love God’s Word, but has our generation called for music that leads our hearts to confess, mourn, and lament like the psalmist does? Or rejoice, praise, and exalt like the apostles do? Do we love to sing music full of Scripture and which engages the whole range of Scripture’s emotions? 
  4. For adopting proper ambitions in our praying. It’s easy to say we want what God wants, but do our prayers sound like Paul’s? Do we really want the same things? 
  5. For giving focus to personal discipleship and counseling. It’s easy to say God’s Word is sufficient for change and growth, but how do we spend our time in one-on-one discipling and counseling? Do Sunday’s sermons reverberate through our conversations?
  6. For gaining confidence in our evangelism. It’s easy to say the biblical message of the gospel should be at the center of our evangelism, but how much confidence do we put in being clever or saying something just the right way? Is the plain truth of the gospel not really powerful? 

An excerpt from Reverberation: “The goal of this book is to help you see that God’s Word is what grows God’s church. God’s Word gives life to a church like electricity gives power to a city. Picture it. Electricity leaves the power plant and buzzes through power lines. Then it makes its way into street lights, grocery store freezers, office computers, and rows and rows of neighborhood homes. Lamps glow and refrigerators hum. In the same way, I’m contending that God’s Word buzzes and hums through people and the local church, giving light to their eyes and hope to their hearts” (from chapter 2).

"Here’s what I want to plead with my fellow Christians: as you or I sit there wondering whether or not we’ll come back to a church, the most important thing to consider is how seriously the church treats God’s Word. Are the sermons meaty? Is the music theologically beefy? Do they read the Bible out loud? Do the public prayers reflect the priorities of the Bible?...If the Father’s Word of the Son working through power of the Spirit is the only thing that gives life to the dead and freedom to the slave, then you and I should primarily be looking for one thing when we gather with a church: God’s Word" (from chapter 4).

Preview and purchase the book here.

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Jonathan, your book helps people find a healthy church, how what about people choosing what denomination to be a part of? RC Sproul believes in infant baptism but Mark Dever doesn't. Martin Luther believed in the real presence in the Eucharist but Lig Duncan doesn't. The inherent problem in Protestantism is that each person must read the Bible on their own and decide what is true. It is no wonder the Protestant church has split into over 30,000 denominations.

CHBC teaches that the Holy Spirit will lead you to the truth if you read scripture. So which person is led by the spirit? Mark Dever or RC Sproul? Martin Luther or Lig Duncan?

Joe, they all are. These men aren't preaching different gospels. The principle behind Acts 17:11 (eagerly receiving God's word and examining that word to see what to believe) has led them to different conclusion concerning areas of church polity, believer's baptism, celebration of communion. Christ didn't come to establish a denomination, but a way of salvation...that's what these men are preaching. So, look for a denomination that majors on the majors while minoring on the minors with the gospel as its guiding light.

Hope that helps.


Guest (Mike) - your comments speak of Spirit-led wisdom ie "Christ didn't come to establish a denomination, BUT A WAY OF SALVATION (my caps). The rest is fringe or minor matters. A denomination "reverberating" a way of salvation "with the gospel as its guiding light" makes God "smile with delight" (I respectfully use the afore term because I am speaking of an Almighty God, but I believe a denomination focused on saving souls makes Him smile, because it is serving His purpose.)

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