GREENSBORO — Churches err when they tweak their ministries to see "immediate apparent success," said Washington D.C. pastor Mark Dever.
Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, led a breakout session at the Baptist State Convention annual meeting Nov. 11. He talked about "The Church's Future: Distinct or Extinct?"
Dever said a lot of books try to explain Christianity to unbelievers. He said he doesn't think it's possible to " fiddle with things" until something unlocks the key to every heart.
"I think that's the Holy Spirit's job," Dever said.
BR photo by Steve DeVane
Mark Dever stresses that church is much more than evangelism during his breakout session Nov. 11 during the BSC annual meeting.
Dever also said it's not a good idea for churches to hold services each week like a Billy Graham crusade.
"Church is about much more than evangelism," he said.
Dever said the culture hates God. He said some current strategies wouldn't allow for a minister such as Adoniram Judson, the missionary to Burma who didn't see converts for his first seven years.
Dever said instead he wanted to talk about "what we should want to see in churches." He suggested a model based more on faithfulness and talked about nine emphases.
1. Preaching that focuses on teaching the word of God. Dever said preaching should be expositional and not based on the latest polls.
2. Theology that's biblical. "We are not a moral self-help group," Dever said.
3. The gospel and exposing church members to it. Dever said pastors shouldn't just stick a gospel presentation on the end of their sermon. Instead, they should study the text until they see the gospel in it.
4. A clear view of conversion. Dever said churches in the 19th century talked about people needing to be saved. Later, churches talked about people making a commitment and now say people need to make a decision.
People can make a commitment and make a decision, but cannot save themselves, he said.
5. A biblical understanding of evangelism.
Dever said Christians can freely share the gospel but do not have the power to make Christians. He spoke against manipulative techniques like turning down the lights to get more conversions.
6. A biblical understanding of membership. Churches should be building a counter-cultural community, Dever said.
"I need to understand we're in a war zone and this is not my home," he said.
7. A biblical understanding of church discipline.
Churches can't say what a Christian is unless they can also say what a Christian isn't, Dever said.
8. Discipleship. Dever said spiritual growth should be normal in a church.
Dever said his church has elders. He believes a church can have elders, be pastor led and be congregational. They all fit together, he said.