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What Is A Healthy Church Member? [Hardcover]

By Thabiti M. Anyabwile (Author)
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Item description for What Is A Healthy Church Member? by Thabiti M. Anyabwile...

Anyabwile explains how membership in the local church can produce spiritual growth in its members and how each member can contribute to the growth and health of the whole. (Practical Life)

Publishers Description

Biblically and practically instructs church members in ways they can labor for the health of their church.

What Is a Healthy Church Member? takes its cue from Mark Dever's book What Is a Healthy Church?, which offered one definition of what a healthy church looks like biblically and historically. In this new work, pastor Thabiti Anyabwile attempts to answer the natural next question: "What does a healthy church member look like in the light of Scripture?"

God intends for us to play an active and vital part in the body of Christ, the local church. He wants us to experience the local church as a home more profoundly wonderful and meaningful than any other place on earth. He intends for his churches to be healthy places and for the members of those churches to be healthy as well. This book explains how membership in the local church can produce spiritual growth in its members and how each member can contribute to the growth and health of the whole.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Crossway Books
Pages   127
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.1" Width: 5" Height: 0.6"
Weight:   0.4 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jun 30, 2008
Publisher   Crossway Books/Good News
Series  9Marks  
ISBN  1433502127  
ISBN13  9781433502125  

Availability  26 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 25, 2016 06:27.
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More About Thabiti M. Anyabwile

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Thabiti M. Anyabwile (MS, North Carolina State University) serves as a pastor at Anacostia River Church in Washington, DC, and is the author of numerous books. He serves as a council member of the Gospel Coalition, is a lead writer for 9Marks Ministries, and regularly blogs at The Front Porch and Pure Church. He and his wife, Kristie, have three children.

Thabiti M. Anyabwile was born in 1970.

Thabiti M. Anyabwile has published or released items in the following series...
  1. 9Marks
  2. Gospel Coalition Booklets
  3. Profiles in Reformed Spirituality

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living

Christian Product Categories
Books > Church & Ministry > Church Life > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about What Is A Healthy Church Member??

So you're a Christian. Now what?  Apr 10, 2010
Thabiti Anyabwile's book is part of Mark Dever's IX Marks series. If Stop Dating the Church!: Fall in Love with the Family of God (Lifechange Books) is about why you should join a local church, Thabiti's book is about what you should do after becoming a member.

First, here are his nine marks (plus one to grow on): 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, and a prayer warrior.

Some marks that I found especially interesting...

Expositional preaching is a mark of a good pastor, but just as important is the church member's devotion to expositional listening. Anyabwile defines expositional listening as looking "primarily for the voice and message of God as revealed in his Word."

Anyabwile also emphasizes the need for us to be biblical theologians. He says believers need to understand the unity and overarching message of the Word of God. How simply can you explain what God's Word says to us?

I also found his emphasis on evangelism provoking. Michael Andrus, as quoted by Anyabwile, gives the following evangelistic principles:

(1) Counsel seekers to focus on deeds and a change of life; (2) a serious view of sin and guilt; (3) make clear this is God's wisdom, not man's; and (4) abandon the language of decisionism (just believe) and embrace more rigorous language of conversion (surrender to the Lordship of Christ).

The language of the Gospel we use is frequently simplistic and man focused. Highlighting the serious, costly and divine nature of salvation is a much needed reminder.

Finally, we need the local church for accountability. The local church is God's instrument to teach and edify us. Edification frequently requires correction. And in some cases, Scripture requires discipline - up to and including expulsion from the church. All to return us to a right relationship with God.

Is your elder / pastor willing to correct you? Even to the point of public expulsion to ensure your spiritual growth? Are you willing to lovingly confront believers in your assembly?
Part of the Body Of Christ  Oct 13, 2009
The Bible is God's written word. Scripture is God's revelation for the individual and God's church. God wants His flock to serve him in the Church; God wants His flock to understand His Word. What is a healthy church? What is a healthy church member? The Church is the body of Christ; the sum of all believers who have truly accepted Jesus as Savior; that is the True Church. What makes up a healthy church congregation? What makes up a healthy member of that local congregation? Mark Dever wrote a book titled: What is a Healthy Church? Thabiti M. Anyabwile's book can be thought of as a supplemental to Dever's work. Both books are pleads to be a student of God's word. The first three points are ways to understand the Scripture:

1) An expositional listener 2) A Biblical Theologian 3) Gospel saturated

An expositional listener studies scripture verse by verse and paragraph by paragraph. To be a healthy church member one needs to study the word in a comprehensive manner. One does not pick and choose what topics one wants to hear. To study God's Word one does not choose specific parts to hear.

A Biblical Theologian is one who seeks to understand theological terms, but more importantly how the parts of God's revelation come together.

Gospel saturated is one who wants to know what Jesus demands of His flock. For sure to have an intellectual knowledge of what the Gospels teach, but so much more. No mere acknowledgement that the Man from Galilee walked this earth two thousand years ago. To be grounded in the teachings of Jesus and what His teaching says about you the sinner: you as a sinner deserve to live in all eternity in Hell. To know what sin is and where an unrepeated person stands before God.

Of course this all is useless unless the Church member has accepted Jesus as Savior. A healthy Church member is genuinely converted. The fifth mark of a healthy Church member is Biblical evangelist- not a church recruiter: To not let the pastor be the sole teacher about a person's peril of the soul.

A healthy church member needs to be a committed member. Yes be committed to Sunday worship and Bible study, but also function within the Body of Christ by being active in some sort of ministry. Number 7 is a seeker of discipline. That is to be active but to recognize authority within the church and to be obedient to authority in the church. Number 8 is a growing disciple: to be a student and to expand ones horizon in serving Christ. Number 9 is a humble follower and 10 a prayer warrior: to be in constant contact with God.

This book is design for group discussion with questions at the end of each chapter, but also an excellent source for an individual to evaluate how he is functioning within the Body Christ.

The Nine (Ten) Marks of A Healthy Church Member  Nov 30, 2008
Building upon the excellent foundation of Pastor Mark Dever's "What Is a Healthy Church?" Thabiti Anyabwile does not just repeat Dever's philosophy. He develops it with pertinent insight for the people (not just person) in the pew. As such, this is the perfect compliment to Dever's work which focuses more on the role of the pastoral leadership team in developing a healthy church.

The list of recommendations forms a veritable "Who's Who" of conservative Evangelical leaders: John MacArthur, R. Albert Mohler, Jr., R. C. Sproul, etc. They accurately extol the virtues of the book as a biblical handbook on true Christian community. Every pastor should be so delighted by this book that they order a copy for every member. For no pastor can work alone in moving with the Spirit toward the biblically healthy church. It must be a joint effort of equipping pastors and equipped people (see Ephesians 4:11-16).

Pastor Anyabwile (note--Pastor--he practices what he preaches) outlines the ten marks (he adds a tenth that surely Pastor Dever approves of) as follows. The healthy church member is:

1. An expositional listener
2. A biblical theologian
3. Gospel saturated
4. Genuinely converted
5. A biblical evangelist
6. A committed member
7. A seeker of discipline
8. A growing disciple
9. A humble follower
10. A prayer warrior

Each chapter includes a built-in discussion guide, making the book very effective in church small groups and in adult Sunday School classes.

Some reviewers have expressed that Anyabwile has not broken new ground. While I understand what they mean and while I sense their positive meaning in that comment, I would say it differently. As a former pastor, as a current seminary professor training pastors, and as a church consultant, pastors would "die for" (die and go to heaven) a church composed of a congregation with these ten traits. In other words, the "new ground" is that while this is a typical biblical norm for a local church congregation, unfortunately it is not the typical actual norm today. The "new ground" is an engaging, applicable, biblical discussion that can move congregations toward the biblical norm.

Reviewer: Bob Kellemen, Ph.D., is the author of "Soul Physicians: A Theology of Soul Care and Spiritual Direction," "Spiritual Friends: A Methodology of Soul Care and Spiritual Direction," and "Beyond the Suffering: Embracing the Legacy of African American Soul Care and Spiritual Direction."

Book Review: What is a Healthy Church Member?  Nov 26, 2008

What is a Healthy Church Member? is the latest addition to the 9Marks series of books, however this installment is not authored by Mark Dever who is commonly associated with this ministry, rather it has been penned by Thabiti M. Anyabwile. Anyabwile is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Grand Cayman Islands, and from the glowing endorsements by men such as Dr. John MacArthur, Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., and Dr. R. C. Sproul Sr., to the rather personal and insightful foreword written by Mark Dever, he appears to be more than qualified to write this book.


Anyabwile's introductory chapter describes the story of "Jenny", a typical Christian who upon becoming part of a local church felt as if she was pushed to a corner with no clear guidance as to how one was to live the Christian life. From this impetus, What is a Healthy Church Member? attempts to help those in situations like Jenny's, but also to be a journey of rediscovery for those who do not identify with such an experience. Anyabwile states:

"This little book is written in the hope that you might discover or rediscover what it means to be a healthy member of a local church, and what it means to contribute to the overall health of the church." (p.14)

Following on from his introduction are ten short chapters that outline what Anyabwile believes are the ten marks of a healthy church member. These ten include one who is an Expositional Listener, a Biblical Theologian, Gospel Saturated, Genuinely Converted, a Biblical Evangelist, a Committed Member, one who Seeks Discipline, is a Growing Disciple, a Humble Follower, and finally one who is a Prayer Warrior. Each chapter is geared towards developing and defining its particular mark, and then giving practical ways that one could possibly cultivate that mark in their life, or at least practically examine that area in their own life. Each chapter then concludes with either points to aid further reflection, references to encourage further reading on the subject, or both.


Initially I was very disappointed with the size of the book. I was expecting more than one-hundred-and-seventeen pages to deal with this subject, however I have since realised the wisdom in their decision. The page length and style of writing has made this book extremely accessible for any person who has ever sat in a pew. The truths and exhortations contained within its pages can now easily spread to a much wider audience than if it was twice the length. Furthermore, it is very difficult to remain disappointed and not be immediately impressed when a book makes the following remark in the first paragraph of chapter one:

"The first and most important mark of a healthy church is expositional preaching." (p.19)

It does not stop there. If that distilled portion of Reformation clarity was not enough to keep my head nodding, many other important issues were addressed, even if only indirectly through what Anyabwile positively affirmed. Several stand out issues included addressing the move away from the primacy of the Word of God in the local church (p.19), the false dichotomy which has been established that suggests theology is only for the pastor of a local church (p.27), the reductionism that has removed the gospel from the life of the Christian and isolated it as only applicable to the non-Christian (p.39), the error of "decisionism" in evangelism (p. 60), and the often misunderstood concept of what it means to "pray in the Spirit" (p.110).

Anyabwile's presentation of the gospel, although very succinct still covered essential elements that are often lacking in today's typical evangelical church, including but not limited to God's anger & holiness, sin, punishment, repentance and Christ's active obedience as well as his passive obedience (pp.40-41). An exhortation is made to address lackadaisicalness and ecumenicalism by calling the Christian to guard the gospel from "corruption and abandonment" (p. 45). Even more surprising, and worthy of commendation, the gospel is not only clearly proclaimed, but the reader is actually challenged as to whether they themselves are genuinely converted (p.50).

Certain readers may take issue with Anyabwile's apparent view that non-members are to be restricted from partaking of the ordinances (p. 69), or of his indirect endorsement of certain men throughout the book by listing them as suggested further reading. I personally would have chosen slightly different recommendations in instances given my own doctrinal differences with certain authors. However, as none of these individuals redefine the gospel, this has not inhibited my recommendation of the book.

The greatest concern for any book that attempts to provide practical suggestions for cultivating godly living is the risk that the book becomes a how-to guide for Pharisaicalism, or a stumbling block hindering the view of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ being the source of grace and sanctification. The former is something that one could even charge the Bible with, for the Pharisees did a good job of utilising the Old Testament to this end. However, in a very balanced way the latter is explicitly addressed by Anyabwile in a section entitled A Final Word where he states:

"The council of this book is offered not as a prescription to be taken independent of God's grace in the gospel of Jesus Christ..." (p.116)


In conclusion Thabiti M. Anyabwile's What is a Healthy Church Member? is a must read for all Christians. Many important topics are addressed and much practical insight is given into the life of a regenerate, local church active and Biblically based Christian. I am confident this book will be a highlight in the 9Marks series of books, and if only a fraction of what is discussed is implemented in church member's lives globally through the gracious work of the Holy Spirit, the blessing to pastors in ministry, the growth of believers individually as well as corporately, and ultimately the glory given to God will be immense.
Excellent Resource  Oct 2, 2008
This excellent resource is ideal for equipping believers in the basic responsibilities of church membership. Anyabwile's short little book exhorts and encourages believers to take church life seriously. The marks of a healthy church member, corresponding to Mark Dever's Nine Marks of a Healthy Church (with one to grow on!) are:

1. A healthy church member is an expositional listener
2. A healthy church member is a biblical theologian
3. A healthy church member is gospel saturated
4. A healthy church member is genuinely converted
5. A healthy church member is a biblical evangelist
6. A healthy church member is a committed member
7. A healthy church member seeks discipline
8. A healthy church member is a growing disciple
9. A healthy church member is a humble follower
10. A healthy church member is a prayer warrior

This is pastoral and practical theology, written in a user-friendly style, with the tenderness of a shepherd. It could easily be adapted for use in a Sunday School class or small group. The church I pastor purchased a copy for every household.


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