Some people love traditional Reformed churches. Some people despise them. Some people are indifferent. I’m in the first group. Though this is not a comprehensive list, here are five important reasons why I love the traditional Reformed church:
1. The Gospel: I have heard constant, God glorifying, Christ exalting, gospel preaching in nearly every traditional Reformed church I have set foot in. I learned (and learn) about my sin, my whoredom, my lack of faith, my hardness of heart. But I learn also of Christ’s perfection, Christ’s union with me, Christ’s pursuit, God's mercy, God’s grace. I’ve been overwhelmed in two ways in the Reformed Church: One with how terrible and deplorable and disgusting I am to God, but also how much God loves me in Christ despite myself, and says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” In traditional Reformed churches, I’ve learned to rest on Christ.
2. Expositional Preaching Through Books: In nearly every traditional Reformed church I’ve been in, the Pastor never gets on a hobby horse topic. Presented is not ten ways to a better marriage. There aren’t five steps to using your money well. There is application, but it’s in its proper place. In Reformed Churches I have received the whole counsel of God, working through the nitty-gritty passages that no seeker-sensitive Church would dare to touch.
3. Catechesis: From the time I was a young child, I was answering questions that told me about who God was. “Q. Why did God Make you? A. For his own glory.” I had the knowledge implanted in me, and it was worked (slowly) into the heart by the Holy Spirit. I have been privileged to go through the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dordt, and Louis Berkhof’s Summary of Christian Doctrine in catechism classes. My Elders and Pastor cared enough to teach me these things. They cared enough to answer questions. They cared enough to teach me what they believed were faithful summaries of Scripture. They knew that for something to drop into the heart, that is, to be known with the entire being, it must come through the mind. I love God today because of who he is, and because of what he has done. Both of these things I have grasped with the mind. The Spirit applied them to know why it mattered.
4. Seriousness of Worship: There is a certain seriousness in coming to worship in traditional Reformed churches. Worshiping with the sense of reverence and awe, in the splendor of holiness. This has nothing to do with the holy hardware hanging up on the church walls, pictures, crosses, the beauty of the building etc. This has to do with God’s character. The splendor of his love. The sheer awesome wrath with which he judges the wicked, and the glory of the gospel through which he loves those whom he has foreknown. In worship God himself stoops down to impart his Word to us. Through a close proximity with God, because of the dialogue that happens between God and his people, I learned that God isn't like any god you tamper with. He’s not a cosmic bellboy. He’s the God of the universe, and I am a worm. Though I sin heinously, yet he loves me still.
5. Hospitality: Throughout my college years, so many Reformed people have opened their homes to me. I think perhaps the greatest condemnation from other Christians about certain Reformed churches is that they should act instead of signing a check. In my experience, however, Reformed people have shown kindness, hospitality, and patience. They have shown that their faith is not dead. They have shown that good works accompany a true faith. How wonderful to be in a denomination (I am a member in the United Reformed Church) which takes the command of hospitality seriously. In my estimations, in traditional Reformed churches I have been invited over to people’s homes (or gone to fellowship lunches) more than 30 times through my college experience.