Mark Dever: The Healthy Church

Mark Dever: The Healthy Church
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In an exclusive Bible Study Magazine interview, Mark Dever, pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church shares about ministry in Washington, D.C., his personal journey to faith, and characteristics of a healthy church.

Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

So much turnover can be a challenge for creating continuity in ministry, but Dever also sees how the constant change can benefit a church. “There are hundreds of thousands of people who are from D.C. for generations, and they’re still here. They’re usually the people who’ve been in a church and stay there. So it’s not surprising that, when our church started to grow again numerically in the 1990s, it wasn’t because of the stable older population, but the young people who were just moving into the city and looking for a new church. Young people meld pretty well with those who have been here for a while. We understand that part of following Jesus is helping other people follow him. It’s been wonderful to see the Lord building community here through peer teaching.”

The church faces some challenges. “In this area, evangelicalism is not as common as it is in other parts of the country. Also, we are the largest, most conservative church on the Hill, and therefore we appear a little bit alien to some of the current residents. But we’ve been here since 1878, on the same corner. We’re the first church of any denomination in the northeast quarter of D.C.”

Dever says that none of the challenges the church faced in ministry have to do with location. “They are the same challenges every true Christian church faces in sharing the gospel. Fundamentally, our ministry would be the same in Abu Dhabi or in Canada or in Alabama—we all face the same spiritual reality.”

A testimony of progression

Dever’s journey to faith was quite unusual: Raised in rural Kentucky by a nominally Christian family, he says that he grew up as “a self–conscious agnostic. I thought religion was socially and politically useful, but I didn’t believe any of it was true. I read through all kinds of materials, like the Socratic Dialogues of Plato and the Qu’ran, and tried to figure out the meaning of life. I finally got around to the Gospels, and I was struck by the Gospel of Mark and the early chapters of Acts that detail how Christianity got started. I understood Jesus the rabbi. I understood the early church. But getting from Jesus’ crucifixion to the development of the early church—it seemed utterly impossible apart from there being a God. So I decided that I believed in the resurrection of Jesus, and as a very young teenager, I became a Christian.”

Since then, Dever’s respect for Scripture has only deepened. “It’s extraordinary: the prophecies, the fulfillments, the foreshadowing, the way things fit together. This text could not possibly have been fabricated, and the closer you look at it, the more obvious that becomes. It is so worth your time. Just keep reading.”

Mark Dever quote

You can read the full interview in the latest issue of Bible Study Magazine. Get ministry advice from pastors and leaders in every issue!

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  1. carolyn olliff says

    Dear Friends, I do love receiving the magazine but I am struggling with the subscription. I ordered print copies, one for me and one for my sister-in-law. I was receiving both copies. I tried to let you know that one copy should be sent elsewhere but I don’t believe you received that information, as there was never a response.
    Now it is time for me to renew and I am afraid you will renew two copies. I am just not real confident in the subscriptions process.

    If you can assist, I would love to renew my copy only and not receive two copies each time.

    God bless ya’ll! Carolyn

    • Ryan Nelson says

      Hi Carolyn. Do you still want to renew the copy for your sister-in-law (if we update the address)? Otherwise, we can cancel one subscription.

  2. says

    After looking a few days on the dilemma of how and when the human race was born, I gave birth to these hypotheses, thanks also to the differences found in Genesis between two stories that seem different, namely the creation of man on the sixth day and then the telling of the story about Adam and Eve. If we read the part of the genesis which explains the creation of man on the sixth day, and then the creation of Adam and Eve, you may notice a detail that differs between the two parts, suggesting that they are two completely different stories. In fact, in Genesis 1:26, we can see that man was created on the sixth day in the image and likeness of God, as in Genesis 5:1 (referring to Adam and Eve) text omits "image", the fact that "image" and "likeness" indicate two similar concepts but different. I think "image" means human nature able to conceive the evil, so the suffering too; instead "likeness" denotes the inherited attributes of God as love, reason, etc. they are both still together. Hypothetically speaking, the man of the sixth day is a creature evolved from monkeys or some other thing, then over time, has developed the reason as we know it today, while Adam and Eve were created in the Garden of Eden, namely in a perfect reality, in which there was no concept of evil, so they were only a "likeness" of God. After that they were created, were expelled from Eden, only to find themselves in this situation, where perhaps, the man who was created in the image and likeness did not exist more because of a mass extinction caused by some natural catastrophe or by "something else"; or perhaps still he existed, and the descendants of Adam and Eve hybridized this species, confirmed in Genesis 6:1,2,3,4, in which he says that the sons of God (which could be the long-lived tall "giants" of Genesis 6:4) married the daughters of men (but may also be refers to the descendants of Cain, who turned away from God). The spirit of God will not dwell forever with the man because he also is flesh, living up to 120 years (mean that men of God who lived up to 900 years later live up to 120 years because of the fact that hybridizing with the daughters of men they are "contaminated" at the genetic level, partially losing genes that enabled him to live a lot longer).

    According to the Bible, Adam and Eve were the first humans created by God, who lived approximately 6,000 years ago. According to the science, humans existed a long time before. The two lines of thought can be easily united, thanks to the omnipotence of God, who in the beginning created humans in a reality where there was no concept of "evil". Metaphorically speaking, Adam and Eve were expelled from this heavenly reality, find himself in another reality, namely in today's reality that we all know, where there is the concept of evil, as well as that of the well; not necessarily a reality where they were the first humans, but the first who experienced firsthand the life God had reserved for them (so they were the first humans in the "perfect" reality). From here it is clear that the story of Adam and Eve does not upset in the least bit the evolutionary linearity, and the seven days of creation relate to a creation took place in the reality of Adam and Eve, where everything was possible, even just create the stars, animals and everything else, without the scientific method and the time needed to have their share. In practice, they were the first men of God; whereas prehistoric man lived before Adam and Eve was a man, but it could be considered as an animal evolved from apes or created by something else, which had two arms and two legs, and that may have hybridized with the descendants of Adam And Eve after they were "moved away" from the "perfect reality". God has endowed man about the concept of "infinity" and "eternity", as well as other questions can not be explained through the use of the scientific method, thus making humans free to believe in God or not, in a reality for us tricky and necessary for the construction and continuation of his project.

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