127 pages / 2008
In ten short chapters, Thabiti Anyabwile lays out ten marks of a “healthy church member.” His list is one well worth considering.
The first three marks Anyabwile discusses parallel the Belgic Confession's statement that Christians must submit to the instruction of the church. Anyabwile focuses on healthy members being:
- "expositional listeners" (taking seriously the expositional preaching of the Word)
- "biblical theologians" (studying the gospel systematically)
- "gospel-saturated" (orienting our hearts and lives around the gospel)
In breaking these three points down, Anyabwile outlines: four benefits of expositional listening, seven ways to become a Biblical theologian, and five ways to saturate ourselves in the gospel.
Anyabwile's next three points compel us to consider whether we are merely nominal members of our church or true Christians:
- Are we genuinely converted?
- Do we earnestly desire others to be converted?
- Are we committed to God's people?
Like a good, hard sermon, Anyabwile may thus make us profitably uncomfortable and provoke necessary repentance.
Anyabwile then deals with some major ways to demonstrate our commitment to our local church: seeking discipline, and being "growing disciples" and "humble followers." Finally, Anyabwile deals with what the Heidelberg Catechism calls "the most important part of our thankfulness" - being "a prayer warrior," discussing why, how, when, for what, and for whom we pray.
The only caution I can think of relates not to this book itself, but to another in the same "9Marks" book series. Anyabwile's What is a Healthy Church member? is a response and continuation of sorts to an earlier book in the series called What Is a Healthy Church? by Mark Dever. While the series is written from a broadly Reformed perspective, Mark Dever's What Is a Healthy Church? makes mention of the author's opposition to infant baptism, and it also endorses a congregationalist style of church government. As well, readers should note that Dever's list of characteristics of a healthy church corresponds only roughly to the marks of a true church listed in the Belgic Confession.
Any one of these ten chapters repays careful study, as they are filled with strong Scriptural backing and life-changing, practical, wisdom. The ten together would make excellent training both for those who are thinking of becoming church members and for long-time members who are willing to examine themselves. If you believe that Anyabwile's book can help you be a healthy member of your own congregation, you can get it here, and here in Canada.