I appreciate the work that the Gospel Reformation Network is doing in the PCA. It is biblically faithful and confessionally robust, while being tailored to the PCA’s context. Below are five areas that I believe my own life and ministry, and the ministry of the EPC, which could benefit from a similar reformational spirit. Maybe one day this could serve as a platform for a similar network in the EPC.
Mission: to cultivate a charitably robust ministerial and theological practice that grows deeply into the EPC’s Reformed heritage.
I. The Preaching of God’s Word
i. To encourage the faithful preaching of God’s Word, as one of the external means by which Christ brings forth the benefits of his mediation effective for salvation and one of the marks of the pure church, by biblically and confessionally proclaiming the gospel in all sermons.
ii. To encourage the confessionally precise and pastorally urgent need to constantly preach justification and the necessity of repentance unto life.
iii. To encourage the redemptive-historic preaching of all the scripture as culminating in Christ, such that no part of God’s word is ever a Christ-less example, story, command, or virtue, or that he is reduced as a means to an end.
iv. To encourage preaching the reality of Christ’s mediation and the rest he provides in our union and communion with him as the basis of any imperative or virtue.
II. Confessional Integrity
i. To ensure the pastors and Sessions enthusiastically subscribe to the Westminster Standards as containing the system of doctrine found in the scriptures.
ii. To ensure that the Westminster Standards are understood and used not merely as yardsticks or boundary fencing of Reformed orthodoxy, or a pleasant brand that maintains organizational cohesion, or relegated to an historical witness, but are the theological air breathed in the lives of EPC congregations, not just in doctrinal subscription, but in practice.
III. Congregational Worship
i. To reform our practice of corporate worship, such that the ordinances of the church are cherished and valued in congregational practice, including
a) To affirm in our ministry and practice the confessional understanding of the sacraments as means of applying the benefits of Christ’s mediation, including the sacramental union between the signs and the things signified, the ecclesiological-covenant nature of the sacraments, the value of administration of baptism to infants, the needful practice of improving our baptism, the spiritual presence of Christ at the Lord’s Supper, and a high value on the regularity of the Lord’s Supper as a source of spiritual nourishment,
b) To affirm and observe in our ministry the confessionally cherished necessity of the counter-cultural practice of rest on the Lord’s Day, particularly in setting aside the whole day for the public and private worship of God.
ii. To reform our practice of singing in corporate worship, such that,
a) The historical communion of saints impacts our worship, specifically through recapturing the lost art of psalmody, and avoiding a reliance on faddish songs,
b) The songs we sing, in their lyrics and composition, match the theological robustness we strive for in our preaching,
c) The style of music employed prioritizes the singing of the congregation over the performance of the musical leaders.
IV. Presbyterial Life
i. To work towards making and diligently keeping presbytery meetings primarily a gathering for worship, secondly an arena for pastoral fraternity and fellowship, and thirdly the time for the regional business of the church.
ii. To work towards creating a presbyterian culture where the business of the church prioritizes pastoral fraternal deliberation rather than defaulting to committee and bureaucracy or falling into divisive argumentation.
iii. To work towards fulfilling our duty as presbyters to partner with, rather than outsource to, seminaries in the preparation of candidates for gospel ministry.
iv. To work towards the continuing safeguarding of the spiritual life and wellbeing of our congregations by ensuring that ordination standards, both in personal character and theological knowledge and views, are raised and maintained by our presbyteries.
V. Biblical Reconciliation
i. To obey the apostle’s command, that since we as God’s people are reconciled to him in Christ, that we are to continue to be reconciled to him in personal sanctification.
ii. To obey the apostle’s command, that since we as God’s people are reconciled to him in Christ, that we are be reconciled to one another, particularly across class and racial lines in our American context.
iii. To obey the apostle’s command, that since we as God’s people are reconciled to him in Christ, that we are to plead with the world to be reconciled to God.