Some of the most edifying books I have read in the past decade have come with a 9Marks logo located somewhere on the cover. The Compelling Community, by Mark Dever and Jamie Dunlop, is another excellent 9Marks book that I found very helpful. This book, primarily written by Dunlop, focuses on lessons learned and principles derived from Pastor Mark Dever and the church the two authors lead and attend.
Dunlop writes, “I want to raise the bar of what you envision church community to be,” and at the same time he claims, “I want to lower your ambition for what you can do to create community…Scripture teaches that the community that matters is community built by God.” In Dunlop estimation, this book is “an exploration of What God’s Word says about community–paired with practical advice for how you might work out these principles in your own church.”
- Chapter one argues that gospel-plus community–derived from natural means–may “work” to create community, but churches aspire to gospel-revealing community–derived supernaturally–that displays the power of God.
- Chapter two considers the impact of naturally derived community: compromised evangelism and compromised discipleship.
- Chapter three contrasts community built on comfort versus community built on calling and the evident supernatural quality of the latter.
- Breadth of community, and the diversity inherent in it, is considered in chapter four along with the difference between this and similarity based community.
- Chapter five looks at the interplay between the right preaching of God’s word and how it works itself out in God’s community.
- The focus of chapter six is prayer and chapter seven’s is on discipleship.
- The eighth chapter assesses impediments to community which may include staff positions, events, music, and ministries.
- Chapter 9 deals with the inevitable discontent and disunity that come with community with a focus on how the apostles wrestled with these issues.
- Chapter 10 examines Jesus’ teaching on sin in the church.
- Chapter 11 deals with the witness of the church community and evaluates how we can best expose the world to it.
- Church planting and church revitalization are deliberated in the twelfth chapter.
My experience with 9Marks books and their teaching on the church has almost been entirely positive. Their books, and the ideas contained in them, are informative and inspiring. I find myself challenged, and motivated to rise to the challenge. This book, The Compelling Community, is no different in these regards. As a church leader, and one who desires to see the church be what the Bible calls her to, I recommend this book.