As a Christian Reformed Church we have been led by God’s Spirit to adopt in 2006 this vision: to be “A Church Reforming to Reach the Lost for Christ.”
Pause for a moment – reflect on this. What does this mean?
To be a church reforming to reach the lost for Christ. It is one thing to be a Christian Reformed church – this says a lot about our identity as a community of believers. We have roots which go way, way back – back to the Reformers – people like Luther, Calvin, and Knox. We also have branches which reach out to other communities of believers – the holy catholic or universal church. We are Christian Reformed.
But to be a church reforming to reach the lost for Christ. On the one hand, this is not something novel, some radical new idea dreamt by a synodical advisory committee. This was already emphasized in the Protestant Reformation – the concept that the church is always reforming – ecclesia semper reformanda. The Reformers underscored the importance of the church being confessional. The church needs to claim and reclaim its identity to the historic Christian faith. And we keep doing this – calling ourselves time and time again back to the Bible, back to the Scriptures, back to the Word of God – each time asking ourselves – are we being true to the Truth? Do we keep ourselves to the holy Scriptures which are able to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
To be a church reforming is a vision to claim and reclaim our identity to the historic Christian faith – to be a confessional church. But it is more than that. This is clear from the mission statement which flows out of the vision: “To multiply Bible-based Christian fellowships and congregations which equip and nurture their members and grow throughout Australia and beyond.”
To be a church reforming is more than simply upholding and calling us back to the historic Christian faith. To be a church reforming is more than simply being confessional; it is to be missional! The church is not only always reforming; it is always forming – ecclesia semper formanda. The church is always engaging its context and continuously recontextualizing its ministry. The church is always asking, what needs to change in us and around us so that we will engage the world and reach the lost for Christ?
Reforming and forming! These paired ideas are basic to the vision adopted by our churches in 2006. There is a dynamic and healthy tension between change and continuity as well as between mission and confession. By the leading of the Holy Spirit, as a denomination and as churches we are always forming even as we seek to engage in reforming. There needs to be a balance between the two. We invite change even as we seek to maintain continuity. It is only by and through the Holy Spirit that we are able to maintain this tension and engage in both of these things simultaneously – reforming and forming – being confessional and missional.
Recommended Reading: The Ministry of the Missional Church, Craig Van Gelder, Baker Books, 2007