Who is this article for? More than likely it is not for a Presbyterian or Reformed Christian. Your denominational ties most likely make an article like this irrelevant. Rather, this article is aimed at those evangelicals- Baptist, Pentecostal, Missionary, Methodist, Wesleyan, etc.- who have discovered through one way or another the “doctrines of grace.” You have begun the journey of rejecting man-centered worship and embarked on the “God-entranced vision of all things.” And now, for whatever reason, you are looking for a church. Here are some things to consider.
Remember the semper
More than likely you are familiar with the five solas of the reformation. But are you aware of their close cousin semper reformanda? Semper reformanda means, “always being reformed.” What does this mean? Strictly speaking there is no such thing as a “reformed” church because the work of Scripture never ceases. There are only “reforming” churches. Are you looking for a perfect church? One that has everything just right? You will not find it.
The work of the Reformation was not achieved by consumers, but by doers. Men like Luther, Zwingli, Calvin et al were not used because they were looking for a church that was just right. They were used by the Lord because they went about making a church that was faithful to the Word. As Teddy Roosevelt said,
“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
In looking for a reformed church you are simply following the contemporary consumer culture. Might the Lord have something more for you? Will you not rather commit yourself to long, hard, dirty work of reforming the church? Do you see what a church is or what it might become? It is easy to sit back and criticize everything that is lacking. The noble task is to work for perfection.
The letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 offer fascinating material. There are several churches with crippling moral and doctrinal errors. Yet within those churches is a faithful remnant. Christ’s word to them is illuminating. He does not tell them to leave. He does not tell them to start a new church. He does not tell them to look for a better church. Such people are told to “hold fast” and to continue to “walk worthy” of the Lord. The work will never be done. There will always be more to be done. But above all you must remember one thing: it is the work that Christ has pledged to accomplish himself. He will do the work. He offers you the privilege of joining him in it.