I am regularly asked why I don’t go to the largest, fastest growing church where most twenty somethings go in our town. It doesn’t make sense to some why my wife and I choose to be part of a simple average sized church. By Bible-Belt expectations, I shouldn’t want to go to church where the worship is boring and the teaching is irrelevant. However, I find the Reformed Baptist tradition and others like it not only compelling but needed for my generation in particular.
My generation grew up in a declining fundamentalism and a rise in “attractional” or “seeker sensitive” churches. Entertainment started being thrown at us every week in an effort to keep church relevant for teens who seemed to be leaving after having gone off to college. Now we are adults and an entertainment church with a program or ministry to offer for everyone is the assumed model. In this context, many are finding the Reformed tradition refreshing.
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18
The answer for the restless young Christian is not deemphasizing doctrine but rather a theology that takes God seriously. This is evidenced in the rise of the “Young, Restless and Reformed.” Substance was found where something was obviously lacking. Reformed theology was the answer to my discontented faith. I found a reasonable faith that not only answered my questions regarding Christianity but quenched a thirst for spiritual growth that lacked what was to be found in contiual substance. This led to an empowering knowledge and relationship with God that then led to experiential devotional practice.
Reformed theology presents us with a God who is more than we realized before, sin that is greater than we previously thought, grace that is even greater, and people who seek a real relationship with God. A real relationship requires that we learn about someone else. Don’t hear me wrong. I’m not saying that professional theologians are the only ones who can truly know God. Rather, I recognize that everyone is a theologian. We want to know God, the question is how are we attempting to know Him? We must find God through Scripture alone, through faith alone, by grace alone, in Christ alone, to God’s glory alone. Anything else will be found lacking.
God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. John 4:24
At least from my experience, there seems to be a growing interest in a liturgical styled church service. Millennials in particular are often attracted to this format of worship and I don’t think it is due to hipster inclination. A simple but serious service is compelling when in most worship experiences casualness replaces reverence. Instead of showing up on Sunday morning to “experience worship” we arrive to participate in worshiping in spirit and in truth. Typically, Reformed churches follow a simple recipe for corporate worship that is Word-centered. Praying God’s Word, Singing God’s Word, Preaching God’s Word, Seeing the Word through Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, as well as fellowshipping around God’s Word. I found these simple but real acts of worship to be fulfilling on Sunday mornings. A Word-centered service that is simple, structured, repetitive, and consistent becomes attractive because it is what we need.
From a cultural-Christianity perspective it is unlikely that I would be a Reformed Baptist. However unlikely, I am glad that the Lord has brought me to this tradition. Of course no tradition is perfect no matter how thankful we are to be a part. So let us all seek to know God through the scriptures, and worshiping together in spirit and in truth.
Grace and Peace,