In light of the previous post and Pastor Kurt’s able response, Taffin reminds us that there is nothing new under the sun. Some 406 years later his words ring true as if they were in the latest denominational weekly. Low churchmanship is part and parcel what it means to be Adam’s son.
The means God has prescribed for church growth are relatively few and offensively pedestrian to the 21st century church. God never intended us to be clever with the gospel or to glamourize what it means to be a person of the gospel. He, not human ingenuity, will be the sole reason for the church’s prosperity (1 Cor 3).
Church health/growth comes down to the week-in, week-out gathering to confess sin, pray together, sit under Christ-centered preaching and observe the ordinances (to paraphrase Taffin). We simply cannot expect anything less. Borrowing from Calvin, Taffin considered the church the mother of the saints. I like that analogy and will chase it a bit. What made Mom so special was not primarily that perfect gift one Christmas or that great experience one Summer. It was because she labored day in and day out for my good. She cleaned up daily after my mess, encouraged my daily progress in school, prepared daily meals she knew I would eat, and prayed daily for my soul. In the end, despite my incessent rebellion she refused to be less than my mother.
Likewise, the church is not attractive because of her occasional “Porn Sunday” or the like. She is glorious because she meets every week for our good, regardless of the sex appeal. Despite my faithlessness, the church gathers each week by God’s design to hear from God. Every week we meet with other sojourners to keep sojourning. And what we most need is not for the church to be “cool” for us, but for God to be glorious to us. That doesn’t happen any way we want it, but only by God’s simple and prescribed means of preaching, prayer and holiness. (For the pastor this all means “taking pains with,” “paying close attention to,” and “persevering in” public Scripture-reading, exhortation and teaching (1 Tim 4.13-16); which, by the way, is hardly sexy and you don’t get ink for it.)
Many would say the church must be more than this these days, otherwise it’s not effective. But I say the church can be nothing less, otherwise it’s not a church.