Ethos is defined as “the characteristic spirit, prevalent tone of sentiment, of a people or community; the ‘genius’ of an institution or system”. Every organization from your family to a Fortune 500 company has an ethos – a way of doing things, an environment, a decision making process and “feeling” that defines who they are and how they work. Christ Reformed Church’s Ethos is defined by the Holy Scriptures and informed by the Church traditions of the Protestant Reformation.
Our primary concern is the glorification and worship of Almighty God. But how do we go accomplish this glorification and worship? As the Westminster Confession of Faith (the basis of our Church Constitution) states: “. . . the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture” (WCF XXI-1). So, this article of the Confession, often referred to as the Regulative Principle, directs us to look to Scripture for the answer on how to glorify and worship God.
The early Church’s form of worship can be seen, in part, in Acts 2:42 where it states, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” According to this verse, worship begins with the Word of God or “the Apostle’s teaching”. The centerpiece of the Sunday worship service should, therefore, be on the reading and the preaching of the Bible. The Bible is the source of the service, not an attachment to support the desires of the preacher; therefore, it is preferable to teach and read in a Lectio Continua (verse by verse) manner rather that the “hit-and-miss” style of most common topical preaching. Paul to his young disciple Timothy, “Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching” (1 Tim. 4:13). Sermons should be of sufficient length to make their full impact. As Stott says, “sermonetes breed Christianetes.” The sermon should perform the tasks of reproving, correcting and training in righteousness “that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
“Fellowship” refers to the gathering together in unity the believers of the local body of Christ. It also includes alms giving and care for the needy as well as the practice of hospitality.
“Breaking of Bread’ refers to the practice of the sacraments. As with other Protestant Churches, Christ Reformed Church affirms two sacraments: The Lord’s Supper (or Communion) and Baptism.
Substantive “prayer” is perhaps one of the most neglected aspects of worship today. As Powilson says, most prayers “sound like a shift change at the local nursing home”. Biblical praying includes a full complement of prayers of adoration, praise, confession, intercession, invocation, illumination, thanksgiving,
To this list of prescribed worship elements we can include “singing” or the lifting of “voices in one accord” (Acts 4). The singing of Psalms, canticles (non-Psalm hymns in scripture) and hymns is prescribed and encouraged throughout Scripture (Ps. 1146; Ps. 2; Lk. 2; Phil 2:2:5-11). The Psalms and canticles are God’s inspired “hymnbook”. To these we add the great hymns and “spiritual songs” of the Church (Col. 3:16).
Because of the enormous power of music for both good and bad, we prefer to sing the proven hymns of the Trinity Hymnal and solid modern hymns as well as the ancient psalms of the Trinity Psalter. The Church of Jesus Christ has its own unique liturgical culture. In many ways, the music we use in worship defines who we are.
In a day when many churches are breaking every conceivable boundary erected by Biblical tradition, Christ Reformed Church is seeking to reestablish good Biblical boundaries and a Biblical ethos to ensure that God is worshipped on Sunday morning, not man. As Chesterton said, “If you find a fence, don’t move it until you know why it was put there.” As the Apostle Paul said, “My message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:4-5). “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us” (2 Thess. 2:15). Therefore, at Christ Reformed Church we embrace Historical Reformed Worship.
This is the Ethos of Christ Reformed Church.