Why are Reformed churches the minority?

Discussion in 'Ecclesiology' started by Romans5eight, Mar 27, 2018.

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  1. Romans5eight

    Romans5eight Puritan Board Freshman

    Why would you say that Reformed denominations/churches are only a small minority? What could be some of the possible reasons for this?
     
  2. Gforce9

    Gforce9 Puritan Board Junior

    Jesse,
    In my opinion, the answer is easy: whether pop-Evangelicalism or Rome (though from different angles), both are natural to fallen man. It is natural to turn the gospel into law, make the bible a "textbook for life", or to earn ones standing before God. To understand ones corrupt condition before God, to realize your passivity (God doing for you) in the sacraments, to have God work through the ordinary means is wholly un-natural to fallen man. It is anti-American....
     
  3. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    This is an interesting question. Off the bat I think we as reformed automatically think we are doing everything right, while others have it wrong. I wondered about this the other night when we went to a local mega church to listen to Nick from Life Without Limbs speak. There were probably five thousand there. He gave the true gospel, rejected the prosperity gospel, talked about repentance and faith, and gave an invitation. Over five hundred people came forward and kneeled down to pray for forgiveness. It was beautiful and it seems that God is clearly blessing this ministry. That church was able to reach young and old, from all walks of life. Many sinners were there and wanted forgiveness. Sometimes I wonder why this isn't the case with our churches. I know the answer that we say, but the reality is that the Lord is growing His church by using these churches. Anyway, it's an interesting topic and I wonder if I can often be too critical and judgemental of non reformed churches.
     
  4. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    But to directly answer the question, I believe that many people don't want the seriousness and devotion of religion that the reformed typically aspire to. As well, most people see doctrine as something that divides and causes quarrels, like politics, and they don't want to associate themselves with it and be involved with it. And then, as Greg said, there isn't really anything appealing to our worship unless someone truly desires biblical worship.
     
  5. Romans5eight

    Romans5eight Puritan Board Freshman

    So you would say that the reason most Christians do not attend a minority Reformed church is because they are “natural fallen men”?

    *From what I’ve seen about 5% of Protestant Churches in the US are Reformed. Half that if we don’t count mainline liberal reformed denominations such as the PCUSA.
     
  6. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Work into the equation all the elements that are used in non-Reformed churches that appeal to the emotions. Now, I am not saying that believers should not be emotional, but it should not be the catalyst.

    Reformed Worship is subtle. We appeal to God and God alone. We do what God has commanded we do in worship. The everyday Tom, Dick and Harry are examples of our culture and cannot see clear of sensation. I've been there. You have to conform to the word of God and when the majority are saying that God's word say 'this', especially the unchurched, why would they take our word for it? In light of 500 people coming forward at this event, it would be hard to argue against it.

    Imagine for the moment that this gentleman just told everyone to repent, receive, accept, agree, etc., go home read their bibles and attend church, take membership, tithe; from now on-your fruits will be evidence to your position in the Lord, how many would like that response? But, I digress....
     
  7. Gforce9

    Gforce9 Puritan Board Junior

    No, but the remnant natural ways of thinking (for even a redeemed people) are not comfortable with how God has ordered His church.
     
  8. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    If I may....the majority of people do not want Reformed Worship. There are no bells, whistles and zip lines. They want more. Acapela singing, subtle worship in a small congregation is not the norm and most people have not been brought up in churches like this.
     
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  9. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Lastly,
    Remember, the path is narrow......that speaks volumes.
     
  10. Romans5eight

    Romans5eight Puritan Board Freshman

    I guess I am just looking at myself and how long it took me to come to a reformed understanding of scripture. How can I expect this from everyone? Not everyone has obsessive tendencies when it comes to scripture and how it fits together. Sometimes I feel like us in the reformed church are simply in a theology nerd cult that need to learn to play with others.
     
  11. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    Scott, I think you hit the nail on the head. The popular thing and trendy thing right now is not reformed theology, and in fact, Calvinism is viewed as just plain awful by the majority of the church. So naturally, the sheep are going to believe what is popular and "successful" to be right, and anything else will be viewed as "off."
     
  12. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    I understand. We can be cultic, with our *head coverings and all. :duh:

    We Do need to play with others. That may be our shortcoming-unwilling for patience. We need to look on these people with mercy. None of us have been where we are outside of God's grace and mercy to us-yet, we do not issue the same towards the outskirts. Yea, they're inconsistent Arminians, but so was I at one time. A wise man once said, 'Lighten up Francis!'

    *I am all for head coverings
     
  13. Romans5eight

    Romans5eight Puritan Board Freshman

    The path is narrow, but I don’t think that Jesus was speaking of strict WCF confessionalism. I’m sure he wasn’t. This would mean that narrowing the requirements for being a Christian is actually narrowing the already narrow path. And if us with a reformed understanding of scripture evacuate the church at large our light will be hidden under a basket. The salt will lose its saltiness.

    I am not trying to be ridiculous about this, but I am really considering how realistic it is to be a confessional reformed church and if we’ve taken our eye off the ball when it comes to reaching the lost and helping other Christians understand the scriptures.
     
  14. Poimen

    Poimen Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    In part, it is due to the failure of the magistrate to suppress heresy and idolatry in the nation at large. This has only encouraged cults, sects and false churches to grow and eventually supplant faithful churches. This, in turn, has led to confusion in many people's minds and hearts about what a biblical church is and what it ought to look like.
     
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  15. Southern Presbyterian

    Southern Presbyterian Moderator Staff Member

    I think Providence may have something to with it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2018
  16. Romans5eight

    Romans5eight Puritan Board Freshman

    In what way?
     
  17. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    God giving people what they demand, blinding their eyes to truth.
     
  18. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    I don't see it as a strict upholding of the confession per se, but the fact that the confession upholds true biblical tenets, surely God is speaking towards those who hear his voice...
     
  19. John Yap

    John Yap Puritan Board Freshman

    Because of sin (also in terms of imperfect knowledge tainted by sin), with that said - we all sin differently, may God help His church.
     
  20. Joshua

    Joshua Administrator Staff Member

    This, then, is your infirmity.

    A cult? A game to play? We don't see it that way. We call it (and believe it to be) the truth, and matters of life and death. A narrow way. Few there be who find it. A belief that the use of God's appointed means is the best and only way to go about Kingdom "growing," all the while acknowledging that we do our duty haltingly, failingly, and imperfectly, such that we remain ever dependent on the Spirit of God to accomplish the drawing of God's elect in the preaching of the Word.

    We seek to advance in our practice of the use of the King's appointed means, never trusting in the means (but rather, the King Who makes those means effectual as He so pleases), not only for the initial drawing of the elect, but in the knitting together and perfecting of the saints, eschewing the trappings and gimmicks of the world and her system.

    We don't seek to "play" with others, because we're not seeking to "play," period. Ought we endeavor constantly to check our hearts, intentions, and affections toward others? Sure. But I surmise that has very little to do, overall, why in certain periods of history, the professing Reformed churches are "in the minority," which is a subjective designation in the first place.

    We would do far better to bemoan the modern Reformed churches' apostasy with regard to the law of God, specifically the 2nd and 4th commandments, in efforts to eschew duty and bloat the numbers, than to navel gaze and wonder why our "numbers" are low. Of course, this begins with each Pilgrim examining and assessing his own woeful negligence of duties, and starting reformation at that level.
     
  21. Romans5eight

    Romans5eight Puritan Board Freshman

    i agree, but I can’t help but wonder how different the church would be if those with a solid reformed view of scripture were influencing others within evangelical, non-denominational, and non-reformed churches.

    I’m sure this happens to an extent, but I don’t see why we can’t be more involved in bible studies, para-churches, groups outside the confines of our Reformed churches. In order to expose others to the reformed hermeneutic.
     
  22. Romans5eight

    Romans5eight Puritan Board Freshman

    I’m not surprised to hear this reaction, but you are sort of proving my point. I’m not saying the reformed church is a cult. I’m saying that we can become a group of those in “the know” and those outside of it. Most Christians wouldn’t understand most of what you just said or how the 2nd and 4th commandments are still relevant. If you aren’t involved with them to show them the relevance, then how will they know? Maybe you are involved in the lives of non-reformed, and I hope you are because you are a great witness.
     
  23. Romans5eight

    Romans5eight Puritan Board Freshman

    Or maybe if a person is truly elect they will be led supernaturally to a Reformed church. In this case we should all take down our church signs and rely on the Bible and the Holy Spirit to lead them to our worship services.
     
  24. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

    The Great Awakenings. Read on them particularly Iain Murray.
    Lowest Common Denominator Christianity that offered no meat after conversion. A lot of cults (I mean REAL cults not just those with which we disagree) trace their roots to the Second Great Awakening. It is zeal without knowledge.
     
  25. Joshua

    Joshua Administrator Staff Member

    What point of yours am I "proving"? You are asserting that reformed churches are in the minority (whatever that means) because most people in reformed churches are not involved in the lives of non-reformed folk? Where did you get this information? What population sample of reformed churches did you pull this information from? Any people "can become a group of" anything. Where are these reformed people you know that are not involved with non-reformed people on such a large scale that you think it's the reason the reformed church is in the minority? What motivated the thread? How are you defining minority? And what is with your "supernaturally led" comment? Who asserts such things in reformed churches that would elicit such a question from you?

    I will tell you this, the Lord might be pleased to keep His church small for a generation, or a people, or a time period not because the church itself is in grievous error, or derelict in duty, but as a judgment and testimony against a generation, or a people, or a time period for their disregard of His Word. On the other hand, should a church really expect God's blessing if they do not obey His commandments and uphold their perpetuity of "relevance" and application, being named as His people? Perhaps that is the first need of address before wondering if we're a very engaging people as a church.
     
  26. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    Interacting with the "non-Reformed" does not always go as one would hope... I don't know what you have seen, but the various Reformed churches I have been to in a variety of denominations have been the most evangelistic churches I have seen both for unbelievers and for Christians in other camps.

    Some people are open to hearing more of the truth. Many others prefer to live comfortably with the modern non-denom status quo. Christ is sovereign over salvation, including sanctification. For his own wise and holy purposes, at this current time, he has not seen fit to grow his people in grace and knowledge such that the Reformed church becomes "large." This has its purpose in the life of the Reformed church to try it as to whether it will hold on to Christ's ordinances or cave in to pragmatism to try and increase numbers, as well as growing the Reformed church in its faith and trust in Christ its head in these days of small things.

    For some reason, people's hearts are hard right now when it comes to Reformed theology (and various possible reasons have been given for that hardness) and even when it comes to Christianity in general, for that matter (at least among university students, with whom I have had the most interactions); it's not only a matter of ignorance.
     
  27. Southern Presbyterian

    Southern Presbyterian Moderator Staff Member

    " As the providence of God does, in general, reach to all creatures; so, after a most special manner, it takes care of His Church, and disposes all things to the good thereof." -WCF 5.7
     
  28. Romans5eight

    Romans5eight Puritan Board Freshman

    The motivation behind the question is that I don’t want the Reformed church to be the minority. I think it could be our fault and not God’s choice to make our churches small in number and influence limited.
     
  29. Joshua

    Joshua Administrator Staff Member

    I can tell you first hand, be as engaging and as winsome and as loving as possible (and surely, these are our duty), but apart from the Spirit of God changing the heart, people are not interested in obeying more/better, even after you've "proven" it is a duty, with all the heartfelt-ness and oooey goooey warmth expressed in the world. My interaction with "non-reformed" and many who call themselves reformed is usually met with uncomfortable laughs or statements like "You're being too hard on yourself," or "That's expecting too much," or "Lighten up!" Etc. Etc.

    Don't get me wrong. That doesn't stop my engagemnt, but as Raymond said above, ignorance is not the only or even main culprit. The Pharisees *knew* Jesus was Messiah, *knew* He had risen from the dead, *knew* He represented the Husbandman's Son that the servants killed, yet this did not change their carriage toward Him. Or, as I have heard quaintly put, "The truth is no barrier to the will." If my anecdotal experience means anything to anybody, it ain't the lack of well-meaning and hearty engagement with others that is the primary culprit of why the "reformed" churches' numbers ain't swellin'.

    I also know these things because my very own heart fights against these truths and if weren't for the Spirit of God working in my heart by the preaching of the word and the reading of Scripture, I would not be so quick to be a part of the "reformed minority."
     
  30. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    I think you're vision is too narrow. I don't know where in Kansas you are, but despite our problems, you don't know how well we have it here. There are places that are absolutely barren without even a broadly evangelical church within 100 miles. Search the archives of this forum and you'll find folks from Europe and Asia trying to find anywhere where the Scriptures are taught as inerrant. They would pull a row of their firstborn's teeth to have even a conservative evangelical Arminian church to worship at. Some find solace and fellowship in conservative Lutheran churches also.

    Wichita Metro likely has more bible believing churches than most countries in Western Europe except for maybe the UK and the Netherlands. For example here we have three PCA, one RPCNA, Missouri and Wisconsin synod Lutheran churches, and probably a half dozen MacArthur type Baptist churches and a three or four dozen conservative Arminian churches on top of that.

    The harvest is ripe and the laborers are few. Having said that, folks do make it to Reformed(ish) churches by outreach and self-direction. Even on this forum there is a spectrum of belief and practice that most members are displeased with. We still talk to each other. :) Be salt and light to your non-reformed Christian friends/family.
     
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