What Is a Healthy Church Member?

Book by Thabiti Anyabwile

Review by Cesar Vigil-Ruiz

The health of the local church is one of great importance and of much interest at Lighthouse Bible Church. The need for expository preaching is crucial for the life of the church to flourish, so that the people in the church would be fed God´s Word and not the word of the pastor, fallible as that can be. There has been a great outcry for this kind of teaching to be had within the church, placing a great weight upon the pastors of the local church to work that much more diligently to preach the meaning of the passage, and rightly so. However, the cry for healthy church members has been nearly absent in the body of Christian literature. Thabiti Anyabwile has sought to remedy that in his most recent book, What is a Healthy Church Member? This book follows one of Mark Dever´s more recent books as well, What is a Healthy Church? Knowing that his ministry is 9Marks (9marks.org), he had outlined 9 different marks it takes for a church to be healthy, with expositional preaching as the first and primary mark for the life of the church to grow and stand firm in the Scriptures.

To be a healthy church member, one must be an expositional listener, a biblical theologian, gospel-saturated, genuinely converted, a biblical evangelist, a committed member, one who seeks discipline, a growing disciple, a humble follower, and a prayer warrior. Anyabwile, former associate pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C., and now senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Grand Cayman Islands, provides expositional listening as the primary mark of a healthy church member. He challenges the reader to deeply take pains to listen to the sermon for discerning what the meaning of the sermon is and to encourage the pastor by seeking to truly apply the message. With this and the other marks, he truly seeks to draw from Scripture how these marks help establish a healthy Christian. He also seeks to help you move towards that direction, providing biblical examples and also recommended reading for almost every mark in order for you to pursue each mark with a godly perspective to help edify the church and to build up the body of Christ to look more like Him, and not like ourselves.

This book gives us a glimpse into how we are held as much, if not, more responsible than the pastors for the health of the church to continue in this age and also in the next generation. To grow in each of these marks is to grow more like Christ, who very much excelled in these marks. For Anyabwile, healthy Christians are healthy church members, not allowing us to think that anyone who professes to be a Christian can be considered spiritually mature unless they are members of a local church, seeking to apply the ¨one another¨ passages of Scripture, and be held accountable by the leaders of the church to not defame the name of Christ in tolerating sin in their own lives.

My own life is deeply humbled by the truths laid out in the Scriptures pertaining to the different areas this book covers. To be gospel-saturated is to think deeply about the gospel, which pushes me to know it well from the Scriptures (and not simply to summarize it), and also to dwell in it in living in light of that gospel that God used to save us. This plays into being a biblical evangelist, to pray and seek for opportunities to share the gospel around anyone you have an influence, including friends, family, and co-workers. To pray like a warrior is to pray unceasingly, continually thinking of others and to leave our comfort zones to get to know people we aren´t too comfortable with getting to know in church. We are to help our leaders and the church body as a whole to grow more like Christ, otherwise we allow sin to affect the body of the local church, defaming Christ´s name and diminishing God´s glory. I pray anyone who reads this does not desire that but truly seek to honor His name and live within the life of the church and not as an outsider.

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The Beacon is the monthly newsletter for Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego, California. It covers a variety of subjects including LBC events, church history, current events from a Christan perspective, ministry profiles, and messages from our pastors and elders. To join the Beacon ministry, please contact Stephen Rodgers.

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