450-year-old catechism calls locals to Christ in former downtown Rifle storefront
Special to the Citizen Telegram
Christians aren’t meant to mimic the Lone Ranger.
To Brad Lenzner, pastor of the newly planted Grand River Reformation Church in downtown Rifle, “To be a Christian is to be connected to Christ’s church.”
“It’s not so much about us coming to do something for our Lord in worship,” he said, “but us coming to receive his grace during the worship service.”
Lenzner’s teaching isn’t new. Four hundred and fifty years ago, reformers after Martin Luther wrote the Heidelberg Catechism, a list of questions and answers that summarizes the Bible’s tenets on the Christian faith. The catechism, the fourth most published document in history and once widely taught, argues that Jesus Christ is the “only comfort in life and death” and that Christ’s grace is primarily ministered to Christians through the preaching of the Gospel.
Grand River Reformation Church is unique among local churches for its continued use of the Heidelberg Catechism. Lenzner includes one of its 52 points as a sounding board for his Sunday evening sermon each week. The church also catechizes, or instructs through a question and answer process, youth from it at Sunday school.
The catechism isn’t about entertaining church members. It’s for the stout of heart and demands a robust, historic, substantive faith, said Lenzner, who is an ordained minister within the United Reformed Churches in North America and a 2007 graduate of Westminster Seminary California.
Reformation churches don’t only catechize. They also insist on preaching through the Bible and saturating the service with explicit Bible references.
Last fall, a group of families from Rifle and Glenwood Springs were yearning for such a church and looked to a church near Denver to help them find a pastor. That Denver church called Lenzner, then in California.
“I had been assuming all along that I would never be a church planter,” he said. “But I came, and after meeting everybody and seeing their hunger for the Gospel, I wanted to be here. I wanted to preach Christ, and they wanted to receive it.”
He and his wife, Samantha, moved to Colorado in August, and soon opened the church in a storefront on Third Street.
“We are so thankful to be living in such a beautiful area,” he said.
His wife, a California native, bought her first mittens last winter, but Lenzner, who grew up in Michigan, quickly adapted. In fact, the couple is happily putting down roots, both at home and in the community.
In June, they welcomed their first child, Elijah Gerhard, and the church is gradually adding members. Lenzner said the congregation has grown to between 25 to 30 people during his Sunday morning services.
To foster community, they share a time of fellowship and snacks after the morning service, and the church facilitates a theology discussion group at Base Camp Café in Rifle.
“You can summarize what we believe and preach as a Reformation church with the words guilt, grace and gratitude,” Lenzner explained. “For us to understand and truly receive and appreciate the grace of God that covers all our sin, we have to first know about our guilt and the condemnation we deserve for sin against a holy God. And that leads to gratitude, as we want to show our God we are grateful for his grace, the work Christ has done.”
Grand River Reformation Church, 101 W. Third St., meets at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Sundays.
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