As the pastor of a church in an area where almost no one has been in a liturgical, confessional Reformed church, I get many questions about all sorts of things – from worship to eschatology to the sacraments. In the past few years, visitors (some who have become members) have asked me about our liturgy, what the solas mean, why our worship isn’t entertaining, what Calvinism is all about, and why we teach using the Heidelberg Catechism (just to mention a few). One book that I’ve found helpful in this area is Welcome to a Reformed Church by D. Hyde.
In this book, Hyde covers the basics for those who want to learn a bit more about Reformed churches. He explains the history of Reformed churches, and how we view our confessions in relation to Holy Scripture. Hyde also explains the heart of the gospel – justification – and how the gospel affects the Christian life (sanctification). In an age where people are quick to discount the church, Hyde explains its nature and beauty from Scripture, along with preaching and the sacraments (means of grace). Throughout this book, you’ll also find brief explanations of the solas, TULIP, and the marks of the church. The things Hyde touches upon are indeed the basics of what a solid Reformed church believes and practices.
Here’s one section I appreciated (from chapter 9 on the means of grace):
“Television, radio, computers, and cell phones are all media of communication. As studies have shown, these media seriously affect how we think, learn, experience the world, and relate to one another. But God has chosen to use different media to communicate. His means (Latin, media) of communication are utterly ‘foolish’ to the world because they do not demonstrate great power as the world defines power (1 Cor 1:18-31). Yet, with God’s power behind them, his means of preaching and the sacraments affect people far more deeply and effect his grace in them in a far greater way than any of our technological wonders.”
If you’ve wondered what historic and confessional Reformed churches believe, if you’ve wondered why they don’t have movies and skits during worship, if you want to learn more about covenant theology, or if you want a primer on the solas, I highly recommend Hyde’s book. This would be a good one to read for your own benefit; I’d also recommend it for membership classes in Reformed churches, since it covers the basics in a readable, biblical, and concise way.