Why are Reformed churches the minority?

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

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  1. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    My former pastor has been preaching through Revelation -- this sermon was very good, and I think, worth consideration.
    Churches, like individual believers, have strengths and weaknesses. That's clear in the letters there.

    I don't wish to be offensive ... but I almost commented on a particular thread lately that we don't even need the Babylon Bee to turn it into satire. I said nothing at all, because I know I am my own best caricature, and I still want to be treated with grace. There are definitely great weaknesses that show up in my own mirror -- and so, in any community of Christians I've ever been a part of!

    And I'm so grateful for the huge blessings of all those communities. I'm also grateful for the communion I find with people who are not reformed; and their zeal and love of Christ is often an example to me. I'm very glad God lives in and works through each member, flawed though we all are!

    Something I've found very encouraging is the biographies of women from reformed traditions, like Corrie Ten Boom or Darlene Diebler Rose. Both these women found themselves in concentration camps in WWII, where they absolutely had to work together for support with very wide range of Christian fellowships. Both were were at the heart of those fellowships with their Bibles and prayer in Jesus' name. When those large diverse groups of believers came together, it was not around icons or incense or prayers to saints etc. They sat listening around the Scriptures which Corrie Ten Boom and her sister had clung to, that God miraculously preserved to them. They heard about Jesus' saving work for them, His sufficient and free grace, and how it changed even the extreme trial they were going through. And they prayed to Him. The same with Mrs. Rose. Those ladies were able to hold out simple reformed faith and worship as an open door, not as a dividing wall: and that simplicity was the centerpiece of fellowship with God and one another that many believers knew in a vital way at that time. I think of that and wonder how I can do the same in such gratefully different circumstances -- how to hold out what I love in the reformed faith, that has set me free, as an open door. I do believe that truth I love is at the heart of all Christian fellowship.
     
  2. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

    How racist!!! :p
     
  3. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

    An invitation as in Finneyism?
     
  4. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    Over 500 asked Jesus to come into their hearts.
     
  5. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

    David,

    My response was to a Presbyterian, wherein the use of altar calls is not something ordinarily practiced as it is not an element commanded per the RPW. The history of altar calls is linked with Finney's revivalism anxious seat practices, wherein bringing a person to some emotional crisis was the normative practice. I find nothing commendable about the current altar call practices. You want to ask persons to make themselves known by coming to the rear of the church and speak with an elder or some mature believer, or meet with the Pastor on Monday morning? Fine. Do so.
     
  6. Gforce9

    Gforce9 Puritan Board Junior


    Preach on, brother Patrick! And furthermore, altar calls? I thought Protestants didn't have altars :doh:
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2018
  7. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    Yes brother Patrick. I guess I wasn't really looking at the method, but the fact that that many people were at least acknowledging their sin, and seeking forgiveness and faith at that time.
     
  8. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    We just watched the movie last night. What a story!
     
  9. kainos01

    kainos01 Puritan Board Senior

    What does this mean, in a confessionally Reformed context? Again (as I've said similar things to you several times), do you see that your language reveals an affinity, not for biblical theology, but for revivalist jargon?
     
  10. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    First I want to say that I’m not saying his ministry isn’t from God. However, many people yearn for inspiration outside of Christ because they can see it before their eyes. Many people don’t go to church to worship God and thus be renewed. They go for what they can get out of it.....inspirational speeches for life’s journey. Emotion plays a big part when “walking the aisle”. They want to be like the preacher/speaker who is able to conquer life’s hardships with a smile on their face, so they walk the aisle not because they are sinners who see their need for Christ, but because of their need to solve life’s problems. Again, I’m not saying this happened with this speaker, but I feel it gives an example of a reason for the OP.
     
  11. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    I don't reject invitations in an absolute sense; Christ calls men to himself. I would have less a problem with AC's if it was explained properly, i.e. Coming forward does not save.
     
  12. ccravens

    ccravens Puritan Board Freshman

    In my denomination, altar calls as a practice have been incredibly abused, to the point where I don't favor them on the whole.

    The manner in which my church employs the practice does not bother me at all. But the possibility for abuse is tremendous.
     
  13. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Most people don't like abstract thought.
     
  14. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I'm divided on this. Part of me acknowledges the wisdom of our fathers in having the magistrate suppress error. Part of me wants to blame everything on the government (which is always a safe bet).
     
  15. Relztrah

    Relztrah Puritan Board Freshman

    This is a fascinating thread and I am grateful to Romans5eight for starting it. I have had similar thoughts and questions over the years. Our pastor has often said it's not all about "nickles and noses" although I'm sure he would like to see more of both!
     
  16. Hamalas

    Hamalas whippersnapper

    Jesse, what specific tangible things are you wanting Reformed churches/denominations to do that they are not currently doing?
     
  17. Romans5eight

    Romans5eight Puritan Board Freshman

    I’m really not trying to criticize reformed churches or claim to have answers. I just wanted to hear thoughts on why we believe Reformed churches remain a small fraction of the churches in the US. I’ve heard some good thought provoking answers.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2018
  18. hammondjones

    hammondjones Puritan Board Sophomore

    I drive by Elevation almost every day here in Charlotte, and I know lots of people that go there. I think that people do like shiny, new things, and people like easy things, and people like a church that won't interfere with football on Sunday.

    I don't have any other answers, but I do know that "wisdom is justified by all her children". So, let's come back to this in 20 years and see if there is still an Elevation or a Lifechurch, and if not where did all those people go? Probably not toward Biblical Christianity, but farther away from it.
     
  19. sc_q_jayce

    sc_q_jayce Puritan Board Freshman

    You chose a very poor example.

    If you're comparing a Reformed Church to Lifechurch, then I don't think that's a very apt comparison to be making.

    You're talking about the church that:

    1) Has as its mission statement in the beginning first and foremost about finding your purpose in life, which makes it about you, your dream destiny, about your vision, about how you can feel fulfilled in your own life. I mean literally the church you used as an example is one of the centerpieces of "scratching itching ears."

    2) You're talking about Craig Groeschel, founder of Life.Church, who "preaches" with T.D. Jakes, Joel Osteen, Brian Houston and others? Modalists, Prosperity Gospel, and others?

    3) The literal first sentence upon clicking media for Life.Church is the message "Exponential Reward" which reads: "When you plant a seed and nourish it, it can grow beyond your wildest expectations. And when you add to the work God is doing, He can multiply it into something Exponential." That is pretty much literally the Prosperity Gospel.

    I'm sorry, you may have legitimate points about certain things related to how Reformed churches could examine themselves, but when you decide to choose Life.Church as an example to look at when they have sacrificed everything biblical at the altar of relevance and Purpose, then there's not much I can say to that other than run far far away in the opposite direction.

    And if you go and tell me "I didn't know that Life.Church was that bad! It was just a local example!" then I have to ask you to start discerning your own heart because you start trying to discern motives and flaws of other churches. You could have picked any other large church out there, like Briarwood Presbyterian Church, or University Reformed Church, or even Redeemer Presbyterian Church. You could have looked at what Joel Beeke's done with the HRC, you could have examined the church Reverend Ross retired at a year ago, you could have looked at Randy Nabors' work in Chattanooga doing cross-cultural ministry, you could have compared and contrasted with so many churches that have influence or are large or are attracting people but you chose Life.Church.

    My personal suggestion is to really ask yourself in your own heart why this matters so much to you. Why is relevance, influence, and really, power, something that you feel must be associated with Reformed churches? Because the answer to the question "Can a Reformed Church be more relevant? Can a Reformed Church love their neighborhood better? Can a Reformed Church show Christ's love better than they are now?" is always going to be yes!

    Let's look at my own city.

    Why is Rod Parsley's church here in CBUS so big? Why is Xenos Christian Fellowship taking over so many parts of Columbus? Because Rod Parsley speaks to people whose Gods are their stomachs. Because Xenos actually is a Christian cult and uses traditional cult grooming methods to retain and isolate members.

    During my Elder training we've been talking a lot about some of the challenges of Walnut Creek's history, especially as we're about to plant a church in Westerville. Story PCA is going to start this year and we're going to lose about 35% of our congregation as they go over there to plant. How do we continue to grow? We recognize that indeed our outreach has challenges and we need to re-examine ourselves in how we evangelize and reach out.

    Great! Several elders and I have been reading some books to prepare our church and think through how we ought to be doing it. We want to be looking at examples of those who have remained true to the heart of the Gospel and who confess Christ the way we do. We do not want to compromise our Confessionalism just to make our church body bigger, or to get our name out there.

    And we recognize one key precept that I've been discussing - we need to believe that the growth of the Church is God's Work. We cannot stray from this. If we do, we become like Andy Stanley. We become like Rick Warren. We become attractional. Seeker-sensitive. Relevant. And the Gospel will take second place. And then third. And fourth. And whoops. Where'd it go?

    We want to look at examples of churches who have not done this. So maybe we'll examine All Souls and see how Christianity Explored has developed. Maybe we'll examine One-to-one Bible Reading. Maybe we'll look at resources to train. Back at my old church we did an Embers to a Flame (a Briarwood Presbyterian Church thing) seminar and it was interesting and thought provoking as to how to continue to revitalize our church.

    But you must be on guard for yourself. You must watch your own doctrine. Your own peace. Your own purity. How can you watch the peace and purity of others, otherwise?

    Edit: Apologies for that, moderators. I will work on taming my keyboard tongue!
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2018
  20. Romans5eight

    Romans5eight Puritan Board Freshman

    I think you need to relax
     
  21. Romans5eight

    Romans5eight Puritan Board Freshman

    I think we can look at examples of past churches that were based on celebrity pastors and know the answer to that.
     
  22. sc_q_jayce

    sc_q_jayce Puritan Board Freshman

    Why are you making it out to be about me?

    Why did you choose Life.Church?
     
  23. Romans5eight

    Romans5eight Puritan Board Freshman

    Because I highly recommend it.

    Just kidding, because I said that it popped up in our town a couple years ago and has 4 full worship services every Sunday. It became popular quickly. Maybe there is something we can learn from that, maybe there isn’t.

    Maybe it’s worth a discussion in another thread you could start.
     
  24. sc_q_jayce

    sc_q_jayce Puritan Board Freshman

    Sure. I might. But that's what I mean by discernment.

    You saw something that got popular quickly and it made you curious. "How did that happen?" "How come ours is so small?" or even "Why are people leaving our own congregation to go to Life.Church?" It would be a good idea to follow-up on that and see what about it is different. Everything I found was from a five minute google on Life.Church and the Lead Pastor. All their sermons are online. A short search spoke volumes about who they were and what they were about.

    It's not a bad thing to examine your own tradition of churches and ask where we fall short, because we always will. There's always something to repent of, something to improve, someone that fell through the cracks. But what I'm asking you to do is to be discerning of yourself before you try to examine others.

    That's why your example of Life.Church was so disconcerting. Again, a five minute search could have produced reams of information about why this church was so popular and have given you some talking points to start with. But I'm still under the impression that maybe you're not understanding why Life.Church is so dangerous.

    If so, my suggestion is to stop worrying about what other people are doing and think about what is excellent and praiseworthy in your own congregation first. I could be wrong, but you tell me.
     
  25. Romans5eight

    Romans5eight Puritan Board Freshman

    I used lifechurch as an example because it is well known. I could have used other examples, but it seems like you have some issues with lifechurch in particular that I don’t. I don’t know anyone who attends there and I wasn’t wondering why my particular church has less members while others have more members.

    The question was why is the Reformed church a very small % of churches in the United States. My small town isn’t a good representation of the nation.

    I was also questioning if there is something the reformed church could learn from larger churches about growth and influencing the people they are trying to reach. If you don’t think there is anything to learn from these churches that is fine.
     
  26. sc_q_jayce

    sc_q_jayce Puritan Board Freshman

    I would have issues with any church that refuses to preach the Gospel and associates with actual, literal heretics. I would hope you would, too. Again, if you have no problems with Lifechurch, then I implore you to stop and examine yourself.

    As I said before, there's always something to learn from other churches large or small. However, you yourself, Jesse, need to be grounded and discerning about these other churches (even from your own denomination!) and test everything to see if it is good.
     
  27. Poimen

    Poimen Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I didn't blame the situation on the government only, anymore than others did when they gave an answer to your question.

    The government is representative of the people and often if not always reflects the desires and interests of the people and, in this case, I think it can be fairly said, that the people (of the West) want(ed) freedom of religion (or were largely convinced or co-opted into it) but the intended or unintended consequence is the rise of false churches, sects, cults etc. that have easily surpassed the Reformed churches of our respective nations in members, influence and wealth. The followers of Antichrist represent a much larger total of professing Christians in the world than we do. Is that not a glaring problem?
     
  28. Romans5eight

    Romans5eight Puritan Board Freshman

    I think you are missing the point. Strike the word Lifechurch from the record and replace it with any example you like.
     
  29. Romans5eight

    Romans5eight Puritan Board Freshman

    What would be a historical example we could follow of a government that did this well?
     
  30. Poimen

    Poimen Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    In fairness to the theme of the thread, any extensive answer will take us off course so I will give you a few examples:

    Israel (under Hezekiah & Josiah) Babylon (Daniel 3:29) & Persia (Daniel 6:26) to start. Furthermore, Reformation Geneva & Scotland.
     
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