Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Called to Serve: Essays for Elders and Deacons

edited by Michael Brown
2010 / 274 pages

There are times when my quest for really good reads seems doomed by the fact that people keep making me read their idea of a really good read... and then there are the times when people are right, and the book I have to read is well worth the time. This is one of those times.

Our (Canadian) Reformed council is studying the book Called to Serve, which includes essays by such notable (United) Reformed writers/pastors as Daniel R. Hyde and Michael S. Horton. Of course, those 'big names' are not the point, but they do highlight the fact that the book is a reliable look at what it means to organize a church by Reformed standards.

The sixteen chapters of Called to Serve are divided up in an appendix to allow officebearers, or prospective officebearers, to study, over ten 'lessons,' the topics of
  • the nature of and qualifications for officebearers - that they are both rulers and servants;
  • the duties and spiritual life of officebearers - that a good officebearer is first of all a good congregation member;
  • our Reformed heritage - from the Reformation to the origin of the United Reformed Churches;
  • the importance of the Reformed confessions - one lesson on the need for officebearers to love and defend Reformed doctrine and the second on the specifically Reformed doctrines defended in the Canons of Dort;
  • the defense of infant baptism and how to deal with prospective members who do not accept it;
  • the beauty of the Lord's Supper and who should be admitted to it;
  • a lesson on liturgy based on a brilliant chapter on Reformed liturgy, including some aspects dating back to Calvin, that not all Reformed churches currently use to structure their worship;
  • the basics of church government and discipline, including such seemingly trivial matters as how to get through a council meeting, as well as the more important matter of the necessity of church discipline; and
  • the rationale for, and proper use of, home visits, for both elders and deacons.
While the book is written specifically from a United Reformed perspective, many of the matters dealt with either pertain equally to other Reformed federations or offer insights or ideas that other federations could benefit from. If you agree, you can purchase the book here.

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