A New Resource to Teach People about the Church
Editor’s note: What follows is a review of a DVD series 9Marks recently released through Lifeway. You can learn more about it here.
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Primary educators strive to drill home core competencies that help students become lifelong learners. Coaches aim to teach the fundamentals to their players so their team performs at a high level. Likewise, in order to promote health and growth, pastors should endeavor to establish members in the basics about the church.
Because of this, I’m grateful for the new “Church Basics” series. This collection of videos and discussion guide will help pastors achieve that outcome.
DVD & WORKBOOK
Lifeway has produced a six-part study to equip pastors and church leaders to instruct their congregations in the following topics: congregational authority, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, stewardship, church discipline, church leadership, and the Great Commission.
This study contains six brief videos—from 15 to 20 minutes—that introduce each of the topics. They’re done in an interview style that’s both engaging and informative. Time prohibits them from covering everything, but they nonetheless succeed at setting the stage for a robust discussion. The videos feature five pastors: Mark Dever, H. B. Charles, Vance Pitman, Juan Sanchez, and Robby Gallaty.
Each video is paired with a workbook lesson that’s designed to guide a small group through discussing the topics. Experienced group leaders likely won’t need such a scripted guide. Nonetheless, they’ll find the information spurs on useful, even imaginative conversation. Inexperienced group leaders, on the other hand, will very much appreciate the trustworthy direction that accompanies each lesson.
More practically, the workbook’s layout is thoughtful. The questions are clear and invite discussion. And the personal study section that accompanies each lesson helps group members engage the material in a way that internalizes biblical truth.
B&H UNDERSTANDING SERIES
If someone wants to go further in studying these topics, B&H has also produced a series of short books that work as a good companion to the Lifeway study:
– Understanding Church Leadership, by Mark Dever
– Understanding the Great Commission, by Mark Dever
– Understanding the Congregation’s Authority, by Jonathan Leeman
– Understanding Church Discipline, by Jonathan Leeman
– Understanding Baptism, by Bobby Jamieson
– Understanding the Lord’s Supper, by Bobby Jamieson
In fact, I’d consider this series a prerequisite for group leaders who plan to lead others through the basics study. Though brief, each book adequately provides a biblical understanding its particular topic. The content is rich but accessible for the average church member, and I’d be completely comfortable putting these books in the hands of our church members without any worry that they would be viewed as esoteric.
The goal of the books is simple: explaining what local churches do—baptize new believers, take communion, share the gospel among all nations, appoint elders, seek congregational votes, excommunicate unrepentant church members—and why. Should a church find commonality on these points, no doubt members’ experience of unity will be enriched. Further, pastors will find an increase in their joy as they begin to rightly value the foundational activities of church members.
The book series would be best put to use by giving it to those who seek more clarity on issues like baptism or church discipline.
In short, I highly recommend the Church Basics study, as well as the accompanying videos and books. I’m confident these resources will give both church leaders and church members a clear and compelling vision of their role in God’s work.