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

By Mark Dever, Paul Alexander

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A Newly Updated and Rebranded Edition of The Deliberate Church

In the process of building a church, there are many things to consider—who will the elders be? How many seats should the sanctuary have? What type of music will the musicians play? Even more important—how do leaders ensure that the church is centered on the gospel?

In this practical guide, pastors Mark Dever and Paul Alexander have compiled a handbook for pastors and church leaders on how to build a healthy church grounded in the gospel. The authors offer a helpful framework for building this type of ministry: laying the groundwork (evangelism, new membership, church discipline), structuring the gathering (preaching, worship, ordinances), designating the elders (their importance, requirements, and installation), and encouraging devotion to prayer and God’s word. A companion resource to Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, this practical guide presents new and seasoned pastors alike with a vision of the church deliberately structured to display God’s glory.


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 with his wife, Connie, and they have two adult children.

Paul Alexander

Paul Alexander (MDiv, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is preaching pastor for Grace Covenant Baptist Church in Elgin, Illinois. He lives with his wife, Laurie, and six children.

Product Details

Format: Paperback
Page Count: 304
Size: 5.5 in x 8.5 in
Weight: 12.0 ounces
ISBN-10: 1-4335-7577-9
ISBN-13: 978-1-4335-7577-8
ISBN-UPC: 9781433575778
Case Quantity: 10
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  



“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 and Centennial Professor of Christian Theology, 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

“Rare indeed are books on the church that begin with the gospel. Rarer still are books that derive methodology for building the church from the gospel. This excellent book does both.”
C. J. Mahaney, Senior Pastor, Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville