Sarah, who wants to read about this? I'm unsubscribing!
Wait just a minute... let's chat.
For those of you who do not know, I grew up in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC). Part of that reason is because my dad is a pastor in this denomination, and has been for almost 40 years.
A small, well known, reformed-in-doctrine denomination, and a very scrutinized denomination. My friend once told an acquaintance that she attended an OPC church and the response was, "Oh! That church that wants everyone to go to hell."
I don't get offended anymore because I know that it is simply not true. I also know that caring about your church being strict about anything at all, and that thing being how we teach Christ, is one of the most important items to care about.
There is something about being a part of a smaller sized church that speaks volumes. I'm not a consumer, I'm a mover in this beautiful faith because you know what? My #church needs me as much as I need them. If I'm not at church on Sunday, my absence is felt and noticed, thanks be to God. My kid can go to an awana program or youth event at any church, but you better believe I am going to membership at a church that needs me to serve and teaches a doctrine that pushes me towards eternal life in a very raw way. That being said, take mental note that there will never be a church you will be one hundred percent on board with doctrinally. Faith is too deep and we are too sinful for that.
Just like every church, the OPC is not without its faults that has caused some of its names (such as, that we are the, "Frozen Chosen").
My friends, the OPC is full of some smart people and at times I can without a doubt say that it has felt like a club, or little bubbles of smart/academic type people hanging out on Sunday.
While living around the country, I left the OPC for a minute because of this and attended various churches in other denominations only to find that I loved the OPC and its doctrine, but what I loved more was the culture that my father had created within this denomination. I'm sure there are others out there, I just haven't been blessed to meet them yet!
He tears up from the pulpit, he includes himself in the admonition, he is straight forward, he yells, he whispers, he is not above anyone, he doesn't over intellectualize everything, and he constantly reminds us that we are no better than anyone else.
In the OPC, each pastor is extremely different and therefore the tone of an OPC church varies based on their pastor and leadership. This extends to church programs as well. We have guest ministers at our church every week, and I could not even compare the few to my father (our current pastor) if I had to. If my father left, and someone else stepped in, I guarantee I wouldn't recognize the church apart from its main doctrinal statement and the people that I currently know.
When my husband and I moved home, we visited around but decided to go back to my father's church and today you'll see me passing out church informationals in downtown Grove City in my spare time. I believe in our beautiful doctrine but I also think that Western PA (and the OPC) needs a little fire lit under them that my father is actually bringing. When you over intellectualize everything, you lose people, and that's not what the body of Christ looks like.
I have heard over and over, "It is so kind that you go to your dad's church" or, "I bet he would be upset if you didn't come to his church." Christians, I believe in what the OPC is teaching! I just think it needs a #culture shock (and so does Grove City, PA).
A church culture changes when YOU bring the change, the excitement, and when you have a minister who rocks out from the pulpit with you (in a reverent way).
So what is the regulative principle of worship? Well, don't google it because the definition they give is a rather pointed definition pertaining to what I was saying above. When I looked it up, it says, "The regulative principle of worship is a Christian doctrine, held by some Calvinists and Anabaptists, that God commands churches to conduct public services of worship using certain distinct elements affirmatively found in scripture, and conversely, that God prohibits any and all other practices in public worship."
Prohibits? eh, maybe but that doesn't sound right to me. We aren't condemning anyone. The regulative principle of worship is where the focus is strictly on the Word of God, the preaching unto salvation, and all things reverent when we are in the presence of God. I mean, you can feel however you want to feel but church really should be this way! Because in the end, it's about God and not about us. We come as messy humans to the building designated as a church and we worship. This shouldn't be comfortable, it shouldn't always be feel-good, and it shouldn't be about us. It should be convicting, it should make us squirm and it most certainly should be Christ centered.
Question #89 from The Westminster Shorter Catechism says:
How is the Word made effectual to salvation?
The Spirit of God makes the reading, but especially the preaching, of the Word an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith, unto salvation.
Loved ones, I am not condemning anyone, there are many faithful churches out there. I am telling you my story, though. I am finally brave enough to tell it and that comes with challenges and convictions to us all. It does matter how we worship God but it also matters how we treat one another. So, take what you will from this post but next time you enter a church, let the regulative principle of worship encourage your heart in the right direction: It is all about Christ and what he has done for us, not the other way around.
Photo by Sarah Thomas.