Who should lead church services?

9Marks

Generally speaking, elders or spiritually trustworthy men who are on their way to being elders should lead services.

Practically speaking, how can a pastor plan services?

9Marks

When planning services, each pastor should do whatever works best for himself. That said, here is the broad outline of how one pastor does it (Mark Dever, senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC).

What’s the goal of service planning?

9Marks

The goal of service planning is to craft a unified service that clearly communicates the gospel, makes the sermon the centerpiece of the service, and impresses people with the glory of God.

Why should a pastor or elder plan church services?

9Marks

A pastor or elder should generally plan church services because the whole service is part of the teaching ministry of the church, which is entrusted to the elders (1 Tim. 3:2; 1 Thess. 5:12-13).

What does the New Testament say that churches should do when they gather?

9Marks

The New Testament says that when churches gather they should read the Bible, preach the Bible, pray the Bible, sing the Bible, and see the Bible.

True or false: God only cares that we worship him, not how we worship him.

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Answer: false.

Some Christians think that as long as we’re sincere, we can worship God however we want. But throughout the Bible God shows us that he cares deeply about how he is worshiped, not only that he is worshiped.

How should we decide what does or does not belong in a Christian worship service?

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For some Christians, the answer to this question seems painfully obvious: “God gives us freedom to worship him however we want. We should do whatever the Holy Spirit inspires us to do—after all, we don’t want to quench the Spirit!” But what if someone wanted to worship God by bowing down to an image of him?

How do I lovingly confront someone who claims to be converted but who lives like a non-Christian?

9Marks
Pray for yourself and the other person. Pray that you would be faithful merely to speak truth, relying on God’s Spirit to do the work of true persuasion (1 Cor. 3:6-7; 2 Cor. 7:8-10). Pray that he would convict and change the heart. Speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). Approach the person tenderly, patiently, and kindly. Explain that you are confronting them out of a deep and loving concern for their eternal good.

What weight should be given to the preferences of non-Christians for what Christians do in their gatherings?

9Marks

There are four biblical principles to keep in mind here.

Should church services primarily be for evangelizing non-Christians or building up Christians?

9Marks

First Corinthians 14 provides us with some of the most detailed instruction about the corporate gatherings of Christians in all of the New Testament. In this chapter, Paul explains that church services should primarily be for building up Christians.

How do we discern when new doctrinal boundaries are needed?

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False teaching changes, so old doctrinal boundaries do not always protect against new problems. But how can we know when we need new boundaries? We can discern when we need to erect new doctrinal boundaries when:

Why should churches draw doctrinal boundaries?

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False teaching harms the church. Paul calls right doctrine “sound” or “healthy” (1 Tim. 1:10; 2 Tim. 4:3). False teaching, by contrast, is spiritually destructive (2 Pet. 2:1). False teaching spreads. The New Testament warns us that false teaching spreads like gangrene (1 Tim. 2:17). Churches should draw boundaries for the sake of their health and even their very lives.  

How much theological agreement is necessary in order for Christians to work together in ministry?

9Marks
In order to work together in a ministry context, Christians need to agree about the gospel. How are we saved? What are we saved from? What is the basis of our right standing before God? If Christians disagree about the gospel itself, no true cooperation in matters of ministry is possible.

Should Christians cooperate with those with whom they disagree theologically?

9Marks
First things first. There’s no true unity except in the truth. Therefore, all Christian cooperation must be based on doctrinal agreement. The question is then, how much? Do Christians need to agree about every nuance of every doctrine—or the interpretation of every single passage of Scripture—in order to work together?

The Bible promises that God will transform human culture in the end. Doesn’t that mean we should be engaged in that work now?

9Marks

No. Just because God is doing something doesn’t mean we should or are able to do it.