Mark Dever

Mark Dever (born circa 1960 in rural Kentucky) serves as the senior pastor of the Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. Mark began preaching at Capitol Hill Baptist Church on Sunday, October 2, 1994.

He is also the executive director of 9Marks Ministries (formerly known as the Center for Church Reform), a ministry he co-founded "in an effort to build biblically faithful churches in America."


Dever grew up in rural Kentucky. He was an avid reader from the time that he was a child. He began reading sections of the World Book Encyclopedia and the Harvard Classics before he was ten years old. From much of his reading and thinking, he considered himself to be an agnostic in his younger years. He held this position until he began to reread the Gospels. Reading and thinking about the Gospels and the change that he saw in the life of Jesus' disciples led him to become a Christian.

Dever received a Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, from Duke University, a Master of Divinity, summa cum laude, from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Master of Theology from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Philosophy in ecclesiastical history from Cambridge University.

Dever met his wife Connie when they were undergraduates at Duke University. They have two children, and she is writing a systematic theology for children entitled Praise Factory.

Dever's ecclesiology and the nine marks

Dever is a Baptist, but his brand of church polity is notable for its emphasis on an elder led, congregation ruled church. In addition, he believes that Baptist churches should be led by a plurality of elders as opposed to a single elder. His writings on these subjects reason for his positions from biblical texts, but they also seek to show that these views are consistent with a significant stream of Baptist history.

Dever's main emphasis, as evidenced by his 9 Marks Ministries, is in the realm of ecclesiology. He aims to help Bible-believing churches become healthy by recovering a biblical view of the church. The 9 marks he provides are his positive prescription for church health. He does not intend the book as a comprehensive ecclesiology or even a comprehensive diagnosis of all the problems that may be found in contemporary churches. The nine marks are:

  1. Expositional preaching
  2. Biblical theology
  3. Biblical understanding of the Gospel
  4. Biblical understanding of conversion
  5. Biblical understanding of evangelism
  6. Biblical understanding of Membership
  7. Biblical church discipline
  8. Promotion of Christian discipleship and growth
  9. Biblical understanding of church leadership

Dever's influence

In the last several years, Dever has become a more widely-recognized name among conservative Evangelicals, due in part to his appearance at large, nation-wide conferences such as the Desiring God National Conference, the Ligonier Ministries Conference, the Shepherd's Conference, and the Together for the Gospel conference (which Dever co-founded with his friends C. J. Mahaney, Ligon Duncan, and R. Albert Mohler).

Dever and the congregation that he serves in Washington, DC also train church leaders on a smaller scale. For the past four years, twelve interns a year have passed through the church's internship program that centers around ecclesiology. Many of these interns have gone on to seminary education, at the same time becoming active reformers in their current local churches. In addition, 9 Marks Ministries hosts semi-annual weekend conferences at the church where pastors, elders, and seminarians from around the country experience the inner workings of Dever's church.

At present, Dever's influence on the Southern Baptist Convention (the association of which his church is a member) is limited because most churches that are associated with the convention have not adopted his views on ecclesiology. Even so, he narrowly missed being elected as the convention's first vice-president in June 2006, and he does serve the convention as a trustee of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Dever has some influence outside of his own association of churches. He serves as a council member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, and he chairs the Alliance Forum, a regular conference call of the Alliance's council that includes a variety of Evangelical leaders from different denominations. Many non-Baptists who identify themselves as Reformed or Calvinistic Evangelicals also look to Dever as a leader.


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