Lord’s Day Schedule‚Ä°

  • Sabbath School—9:45 a.m.
  • Morning Worship—10:45 a.m.
  • Afternoon Worship—2:00 p.m.
  • ‡ Regular schedule temporarily suspended.

Growing Reformed Churches

Westminster Seminary – California is hosting a conference entitled Missional & Reformed. The term ‘missional’ is a buzz-word of the so-called ’emerging church movement’, which intends to be a reshaping of Protestant Christianity in ‘ways which will accommodate postmodern culture.’ This conference interacts with the ‘missional’ emphasis of this movement.

Broadly speaking, postmodernism (and this corresponding ’emerging church movement’) is no friend to biblical Christianity. Postmoderns typically eschew institutions as such because they find them to be inauthentic and artificial. For the emerging church movement, ‘missional living’ is a more authentic way of manifesting Christ to the world than the traditional ‘preaching of the gospel’ familiar to biblical Protestantism. But ‘missional living’ really turns out to be simply a new postmodern twist on making the gospel less confrontational and more ‘social’ (as in ‘social gospel’). ‘Emergents’ have recast the ‘spreading of the gospel’ to a more ‘social and communal’ form, an expression deemed more personal (they might say, more ‘incarnational’) than the cold sterile structures of theology, worship, and ecclesiology familiar to the traditionally confessional (i.e., institutional) Protestant church.

In short, the ’emerging church movement’ sees the institutional church with its hard-and-fast lines drawn by confessional standards to be more of a hindrance than a help in manifesting Christ to the world. In interaction with this the WSC conference appears to be aimed largely at displaying the centrality of the institutional church for the building of Christ’s kingdom.

Dr. R. Scott Clark presented the second lecture at this conference and he has shared some of his thoughts in a series of posts from his ‘Heidelblog’ (where, in fact, he has been ‘live-blogging’ the whole conference which ends today). Clark highlights three terms to describe a properly Reformed movement to plant churches. As I read his comments it occurred to me that these terms also describe a properly Reformed movement to grow a church no matter how old it is.

I don’t agree with everything Dr. Clark says in these posts, but I do find the overall thrust of the articles good food for thought. Here are the links together with some quotations.

  • Strategic, Authentic, and Confessional (1): Authentic
  • ‘Our congregations must be or become places where, when folks visit, they find a congregation of people who aren’t trying to get something from them, who aren’t trying to manipulate them. Our congregations must be places where people can find folk who only want two things: to glorify God and love their neighbors. This is what I mean by “authentic.”’
  • Strategic, Authentic, and Confessional (2): Strategic
  • ‘Our consistories [i.e., Sessions -VRH] must become convinced that the visible church is the divine institution for advancing the kingdom of God on the earth.’
  • ‘To whom does a congregation belong? Does it belong to the folk who founded it? Does it belong to the consistory? Does it belong to the 10% who do all the “work”? No, it belongs to none of them. The church belongs to Christ. It exists to advance his kingdom and his kingdom is advanced through the preaching of the gospel (Rom 10) and the administration of the sacraments and discipline (Matt 28:18-20)…’
  • Strategic, Authentic, and Confessional (3): Confessional
  • ‘[If] we recognize that our confessions form a charter, a covenant with the past, with God, with ourselves and with our children, which summarizes our understanding of Scripture, to which we have voluntarily agreed, which we confess together publicly, and to which we have solemnly sworn allegiance before Christ and the church, then our confessions must form our ministry and they must provide our definition of mission and missional.’

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