Thabiti M. Anyabwile, What is a Healthy Church Member? (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008)
This is a small format hardback book of 120 pages, so it's really the ideal size to actually convince someone to read. While books abound concerning the responsibilities of church leaders, there are not so many out there that look at the responsibilities of church members. The book asks, and seeks to answer the question 'How can you, an individual member of a local church, contribute to the positive health of your church?' (p.14).
Anyabwile builds on Mark Dever's Nine Marks of a Healthy Church to provide 10 marks of a healthy church member, unpacking both the meaning and how to cultivate each mark.
The 10 marks are that a healthy church member is:
- An Expositional Listener
- A Biblical Theologian
- Gospel Saturated
- Genuinely Converted
- A Biblical Evangelist
- A Committed Member
- Seeks Discipline
- A Growing Disciple
- A Humble Follower
- A Prayer Warrior
Anyabwile helpfully unpacks each mark in a short chapter of 10 or so pages each, making it very easy even for those who are not used to reading very much. There are also questions for further reflection at the end of each chapter.
This book would be ideal to use with a small group/house group in a church. It addresses many important issues and does so in a very balanced way. The only quibble I would have would be on the two occasions where congregationalism creeps in to the text. However, this is only in two paragraphs in the entire book and does not affect the 10 Marks. If used in a small group, the leader could easily explain the differences brought about in those areas by non-congregational government.
Anyabwile makes clear that to be a healthy Christian is to be a healthy church member. Thus the 10 marks are those of healthy Christians. In fact, this is a book which points Christians to a healthier Christian life; essentially it's a book about Christian growth.
If only there were a French translation, for I would certainly use it with my house group. This is not the latest fad, but a solid guide to Christian growth, rooted in the Scriptures. In fact, as the series preface points out:
Local churches grow in life and vitality as they organize their lives around God's Word. God speaks. Churches should listen and follow. It's that simple. When a church listens and follows, it begins to look like the One it is following. It reflects his love and holiness. It displays his glory. A church will look like him as it listens to him. (pg.9)
This is the type of piety for which What is a Healthy Church Member? calls. It is a God focused piety, which is grounded in the Gospel and governed in all respects by the Word. This book points to how to be such a strong and healthy church member. Read it and pass it on.