On October 30, 1991—25 years ago this Sunday—Mark Dever wrote a letter to a church in Massachusetts. They needed a new pastor and wanted to know what they should be looking for. Mark responded with a list of nine must-haves—a list that has since become known as “nine marks of a healthy church.”
Mailbag #39: Turning Elder Training into a Program; Divorced, Repentant, but Not Seeking Reconciliation?By Jonathan Leeman | 10.28.2016
—Is it wise to turn elder training into a program? —Can a divorced member of the church be repentant without seeking reconciliation with their spouse?
Here are seven points regarding the keys of the kingdom, and how local churches exercise authority through their use.
What sins should result in public church discipline? And how should we confront brothers or sisters in sin?
Mailbag #38: How to Shepherd Every Member; Shepherding by the “Parish Model”; What’s the “Church” in Matthew 18?By Jonathan Leeman | 05.20.2016
— How can the elders of a large church ensure every member is both known and cared for? — We’d like to divide our church members by families and individuals and then designate them to a particular elder. What do you think of this approach? — In Matthew 18, what does Jesus mean when he says “tell it to the church”?
Mailbag #37: Congregationalism in China; A Defense of Building Bigger Buildings; Notifying the Recently Disciplined; Supporting a Widow Who Has Left the ChurchBy Jonathan Leeman | 05.10.2016
— How can something like congregationalism work in China, with its networks of related house churches? — The leaders at my church want to build a bigger building, yet it seems to me a waste of money. What should I do? — After someone has been disciplined for non-attendance, should the church notify the person as a final act of congregational care? — Twenty years ago, our church made a commitment to financially support our former pastor’s widow. She has since refused to attend our church. What should I do?
Mailbag #36: When Nominating Elders May Cause Disunity; Your 9 Marks Aren’t Enough; A Difficult Pastoral SituationBy Jonathan Leeman | 05.02.2016
— Should I move forward with installing a plurality of elders, even if the decision causes disunity in the church? — I agree with your nine marks—but seriously, where are the marks of love and prayer and missions? — The grandmother of an unwed and pregnant teenager wants to have her granddaughter’s baby shower at the church. How should I think through this?
Practicing church discipline is difficult. Perhaps this is why many churches seem to have neglected it.
— A church member denies the faith; is the proper response excommunication? — In a church plant, how long you should wait to install the first elders? — What questions should you ask during a membership interview? And what should you do if something like a past divorce comes up?
The ways we can use Statements of Faith and Church Covenants in our churches are many, but what matters most is that if we have them, we use them to help each other follow Jesus.
Mailbag #33: Job Conflicts with Church; Requiring More than One Gathering; Process for Members Who Leave on Good TermsBy Jonathan Leeman | 03.10.2016
What should we do when a job conflicts with church attendance? » Is a church over-reaching when it requires more than one gathering for membership? » What’s the process for when members move and leave on good terms? »
Mailbag #28: Are “Unequally Yoked” Marriages Always Sin?; Can You Discipline over Sins of Omission?; Is Dancing Acceptable in Corporate Gatherings?By Jonathan Leeman | 01.26.2016
— Are marriages between Christians and non-Christians always sin? What if they have children together? — Is it wise to discipline over sins of omissions, like husbands who don’t love their wives well? — Is dancing acceptable in corporate gatherings?
Mailbag #27: What to Do in the Case of an Unbiblical Divorce; How to Respond to the Threat of Violence in the ChurchBy Jonathan Leeman | 01.18.2016
— If a married couple goes through with an unbiblical divorce, what does a faithful pastoral response look like? — What would be the proper response for churches to take when faced with the threat of violence by a person with a gun during a service or some other gathering of members?
Mailbag #24: What Happens to Infants Who Die; Thinking through Civil Disobedience; Calling Out False Teachers by NameBy Jonathan Leeman | 12.14.2015
— What happens to infants who die? Do they go to heaven? — How should Christians think through the category of “civil disobedience”? — Should pastors call out false teachers by name?
Mailbag #22: Thinking Through Pastoral Transitions; Loving Those Who Repeatedly Commit Sexual Sin; Declaring Membership BankruptcyBy Jonathan Leeman | 11.30.2015
— What are some best practices for thinking through pastoral searches? — If someone is repeatedly falling into sexual sin, yet repeatedly professes repentance and sorrow, is there ever an occasion to disbelieve them? — I’ve heard of churches deleting their membership rolls so that they can start over and have a membership that better reflects attendance. What do you think of this practice?