For many Christian Courier readers, being Reformed matters a lot. But we wanted to know if that was true for others in Reformed circles as well, and if so, why? Do Reformed churches have a relevant voice today, 500 years post-Reformation?
CC recently sent out a survey to find out what people really think about being Reformed. The result provides a snapshot into the understanding, experience and opinion of those who call themselves “Reformed.” Our respondents come from across Canada – from B.C., Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia and P.E.I. Most are members in Christian Reformed churches, but we also heard from people in United Reformed, Free Reformed and non-specified Reformed churches, as well as a few individuals who do not belong to a Reformed church at all. Over half of our respondents are in the 16-30 age category.
Why do you attend a Reformed denomination?
“I've grown up in it . . . the doctrines line up with my own personal beliefs . . . I don't see it as being essential to my faith walk – I believe that I could grow spiritually in other denominations as well.”
“. . . only because of my parents. Denominations don't matter to me. We're all brothers and sisters in Jesus . . . We shouldn’t have to be categorized by our beliefs.”
“I grew up with a Reformed church, so it's the environment I'm comfortable with. I'm still trying to figure out if I'm going to stay in a Reformed church.”
“. . . because it is a denomination that is rich in theology and deeply committed to scripture.”
“I didn't choose it. I married into it. I have grown to appreciate it more, but it is not necessarily my first choice.”
“Because I like the particular church I am in. My choice of church will always be dependent on community and belonging more than a philosophy like being Reformed.”
“I've always belonged to the Reformed denomination and when I did look at others I always went back.”
Does it matter to you to be Reformed?
“Yes . . . because I know I can trust that the preaching and teaching will be orthodox.”
“At the moment, going to a Reformed church is not something I think about a lot because it is all I have ever really known.”
“To me it's the most biblically accurate and stretches me the most. Plus the community is like no other.”
“It only matters to be Reformed if you are willing to be Reformed. The Reformation has not ended.”
“What matters to me is to be in a church with solid theology and practice.”
“It is important the word is correctly shared more than me being Reformed. Tradition never justified anything!”
“It does! If we desire to live 'All for Jesus' in every part of our day and life, a Reformed worldview makes the most sense of what that looks like.”
What does the word ‘Reformed’ mean to you?
“Reformed means that I believe God is King, the Scriptures are the authoritative document of God's word, and a personal spiritual life is important.”
“Reformed seems so strict and almost stuck up in its own views. I don’t like the word.”
“To me, being Reformed means that Christ rules over all creation. To Reform something means to bring change, and that's what we're called to do: to be God's hands and feet to a world that so desperately needs him.”
“That I am always testing my faith with what is biblical. And changing when it's needed but not just for the sake of change.”
“That Christ through his resurrection is making all things new, reforming his Creation.”
“What I hope is that the word “Reformed” reminds us that the church has never been static. It has always been changing and evolving.”
Do you feel the Reformed churches have a relevant voice for today? How or why?
“The Bible is always relevant, as God is always relevant. We should not compromise on [our] beliefs in a misguided attempt to be non-offensive or pleasing to others.”
“Yes. There are people seeking more than just a sprinkling of the Bible. They desire sound biblical teaching.”
“In a world where we are constantly being accused of being hypocritical, Reformed churches have a valuable wholistic theology to offer.”
“I feel like they do have a voice, but that in order to be taken more seriously, they need to stand together on the controversial issues . . . . Our collective voice could have an incredible impact in our world if we could all get on the same page.”
“The church has a relevant voice but it has to be open to dealing with the changes in the world.”
“I think the CRC is relevant today, but I’m not certain their voice is loud enough.”
“In the world, no. Reformed and Christian messages in general have been hidden away from people and we must work at breaching this.”
“It's hard to have a relevant voice when you're small and not growing much.”
“One area we can continue to be relevant in, and that we can learn from more evangelical/Baptist/Pentecostal denominations, is to continue to build evangelism: not being afraid to voice our love for Christ in our communities.”
“There's a lot of room for Reformed churches to partner with other denominations, to put differences aside.”
“Right now, I don't believe we have a relevant voice. We are too self-absorbed in our own survival that we have lost our voice. Hopefully, we will find a path out of the wilderness.”
It depends . . .
“Depends on the church. Many are more focused on the efficiency and organization of things than the primary vision Christ has for church – reaching people in their communities with the gospel.”
“I believe it depends on the church and how you carry out your beliefs. Today, homosexuality is becoming more of an accepted norm, and my previous Reformed church didn’t accept it as well as I would have preferred.”
“I don't believe in relevant voice. The people are the church. The church needs to leave its buildings and go out to the highways and bi-ways and get on the mission. The church needs to see loving their neighbours as the ultimate mission.”
“Reformed churches, not necessarily, but Reformed worldview outlets (magazines, colleges, etc.) sure do!”