Reforming the local church
October 12, 2012
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For Reformation theology to affect the life of a local church, it needs to be fleshed out in new perceptions of the dynamics of the corporate life of the local church. While there has been much talk about recovering biblical churchmanship over the last twenty years, and even efforts to recapture the simplicity of the first-century house church, what we have actually seen is the rise of the following:
(1) consumer churchmanship (meeting felt needs);
(2) commercial churchmanship (marketing religious enterprises or entities); and
(3) cultural/countercultural churchmanship (church life that mimics patterns in the broader culture or Christian versions of the counterculture).
What seems to be on the decline is the sort of vibrant, vital churchmanship described in the New Testament (1 Cor. 10:16–17; Eph. 4:11–16; Col. 1:3–14, 3:12–17). Reformed theology casts our churchmanship in a light that might be unfamiliar to us, but seems to be more consistent with the actions and dispositions found in the New Testament.
In our corporate worship, Reformed liturgies that include creedal and confessional readings remind us that we stand with others in the same body of truth, professing one faith in the one mediator between God and man, the Lord Jesus Christ. The fleshing out of Reformed theology reminds us of our accountability and responsibility toward others. It reminds us that neither our presence in corporate worship nor our acts of worship are just a matter of us and God in the garden alone. Reformed theology not only emphasizes our union with Christ, but also our communion with one another.
Reforming at the level of the local church is not an easy task, especially when we consider that the most “reformed” of Reformed churches is always still being reformed by the Word of God. This is true for all churches, old and new. For those you are challenging to change, this pace will seem like breakneck speed. It’s a transformation, a reformation. At the same time, however, it will seem like a snail’s pace for those who see the need for change (especially those on the outside comfortably situated in well-established Reformed churches). Again, there is no sure-fire formula that will produce the same results across the board. We know that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God, so when we preach let us preach Christ and him crucified so that those who hear us may have faith in the power of God and not men.
Excerpt from Reformed Baptist Fellowship.