How to Build a Healthy Church: A Practical Guide for Deliberate Leadership

Second Edition

By Mark Dever, Paul Alexander

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A Newly Updated and Rebranded Edition of The Deliberate Church

If churches are the dwelling place of God’s Spirit, why are so many built around the strategies of man? Eager for church growth, leaders can be lured by entertaining new schemes, forgetting to keep doctrinal truth as their driving force. Churches must find a way out of the maze of programs and methods and humbly lean on the sufficiency of God’s Word.

How to Build a Healthy Church, a revised and expanded edition of The Deliberate Church, challenges leaders to evaluate their motivations for ministry and provides practical examples of healthy, deliberate leadership. Written as a companion handbook for Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, it covers important topics including membership, worship, responsible evangelism, and church roles. This is more than a step-by-step plan to mimic; it’s a biblical blueprint for pastors, elders, and anyone committed to the church’s vitality.

Read Chapter 1


Mark Dever

Mark Dever (PhD, Cambridge University) is the senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC, and president of 9Marks ( Dever has authored over a dozen books and speaks at conferences nationwide. He lives in Washington, DC, with his wife, Connie, and they have two adult children.

Paul Alexander

Paul Alexander (MDiv, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is the pastor of Grace Covenant Baptist Church in Elgin, Illinois, where he lives with his wife, Laurie, and their six children.

Product Details

Category: Church Ministry
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 304
Size: 5.5 in x 8.5 in
Weight: 12.91 ounces
ISBN-10: 1-4335-7577-9
ISBN-13: 978-1-4335-7577-8
ISBN-UPC: 9781433575778
Case Quantity: 36
Published: August 24, 2021

Table of Contents


Section 1: Gathering the Church 
Chapter 1: The Four Ps
Chapter 2: Beginning the Work
Chapter 3: Doing Responsible Evangelism
Chapter 4: Taking in New Members
Chapter 5: Doing Church Discipline
Section 2: When the Church Gathers
Chapter 6: Understanding the Regulative Principle
Chapter 7: Applying the Regulative Principle 
Chapter 8: The Role of the Pastor 
Chapter 9: Evangelistic Exposition
Chapter 10: The Roles of Different Gatherings
Chapter 11: The Role of the Ordinances 
Chapter 12: Loving Each Other 
Chapter 13: Music
Section 3: Gathering Elders
Chapter 14: The Importance of Elders 
Chapter 15: Looking for a Few Good Men
Chapter 16: Assessment 
Chapter 17: Why Character Is Crucial
Chapter 18: Getting Started
Chapter 19: Staffing
Section 4: When the Elders Gather
Chapter 20: The Word and Prayer
Chapter 21: The Agenda - What to Talk About
Chapter 22: Decision Making – How to Talk about It  



“In the year 2000, I attended a weekender at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC. During our time there, Mark Dever allowed us to observe how they did church and invited us to ask questions. Everything the elders and the church did was intentional, and everything we observed was rooted in biblical convictions about what a church is and does. The Lord used that weekend to shape my understanding of what a healthy, biblical church might look like. What you hold in your hands is very much like a ‘weekender’ in book form. But make no mistake. This is not a ‘how-to’ book in the ordinary sense of that term. Instead, it is a ‘why-to’ book. In it, Dever and Paul Alexander argue that because the church is God’s idea, we must order it according to his word. Our God determined church health, and he has revealed in his word how to pursue it. So read this book, consider what a church is, then deliberately lead your church toward that end for the glory of God.”
Juan Sanchez, Assistant Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

How to Build a Healthy Church is as simple as it is biblical. At the heart of the message is the presupposition that the Christian life is to be deliberately lived out in the community of a church family under the oversight of elders. Dever and Alexander provide no quick fixes, no new revelations; they simply call us to ordinary and consistent biblical Christianity.”
Chopo Mwanza, Pastor, Faith Baptist Church Riverside, Kitwe, Zambia

“Here is one of the most faithful and insightful pastors of our time addressing the most crucial issues of church life. Mark Dever refuses to separate theology and congregational life, combining pastoral insight with clear biblical teaching. This book is a powerful antidote to the merely pragmatic approaches of our day—and a refutation to those who argue that theology just isn’t practical.”
R. Albert Mohler Jr., President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“This book is the perfect example of what a truly practical book on church health and growth should be: it gives concrete guidance for and examples of biblical principles being put into practice in the life and ministry of the local congregation.”
Ligon Duncan, Chancellor and CEO, Reformed Theological Seminary

How to Build a Healthy Church shares many of the ministry lessons that Dever and his colleagues have learned from Scripture and sought to implement in the life of their church community. This book is for anyone who wants to get serious about following the biblical pattern for the church and is looking for down-to-earth practical help.”
Philip Graham Ryken, President, Wheaton College

“Here is a novel idea: use the Bible as a handbook to gather and guide the church! And How to Build a Healthy Church is a novel volume indeed, standing amid the spate of ‘church-as-corporation, pastor-as-CEO’ manuals that glut church life. Here is a book that wafts a radical, refreshing breeze from the pages of Scripture that will breathe life into the church. A crucial read.”
R. Kent HughesSenior Pastor Emeritus, College Church, Wheaton, Illinois

“This book is the perfect example of what a truly practical book on church health and growth should be: it gives concrete guidance for and examples of biblical principles being put into practice in the life and ministry of the local congregation.”

Ligon Duncan

Chancellor and CEO, Reformed Theological Seminary