2011-03-04 / Faith

Grace Reformed Church blends past and present

By Roxanne Estrada

THE GOOD BOOK—The Rev. John Ford, left, and the Rev. David Deutsch work together with the Rev. Ervin Martin to lead Grace Reformed Church in Camarillo. 
RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers THE GOOD BOOK—The Rev. John Ford, left, and the Rev. David Deutsch work together with the Rev. Ervin Martin to lead Grace Reformed Church in Camarillo. RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers The Rev. David Deutsch said Grace Reformed Church in Camarillo aims to bring Jesus’ early church and teachings into the 21st century.

“Grace Reformed Church is a community of grace,” Deutsch said. “It’s a community of people who know that everything comes from God. It doesn’t start with your goodness or your want. It starts with your need for Jesus and salvation.”

Three pastors lead the church: David Deutsch, John Ford and Ervin Martin. Ford said they hold equal responsibilities but each has his own expertise. Martin specializes in discipleship; Ford oversees administrative work, and Deutsch focuses on preaching.

Having three pastors keeps the leadership team strong and balanced, Deutsch said.

“ There’s wisdom in company,” he said. “There are multiple perspectives to see.”

Deutsch started the church with his wife, Teresa, when he was 26 years old in 1993. Aimed toward single 20-somethings who had come from broken homes, the church resembled “a youth group built around a rock band,” Ford said.

But the congregation entered the next phase of their life with marriage and children, and started to live out the reformed teachings and emphasis in Scripture.

“Those kids have grown up, matured and have embraced the doctrines to become productive members of society,” Ford said.

Deutsch said he was raised in a church where the word “no” was often used. Instead of focusing on the negative, Grace Reformed Church focuses on how Jesus can help people reach their goals.

“There’s no area off limits as long as Jesus is leading you down that path,” Deutsch said. “I was raised in a church where there was no relationship between Sunday and Monday; they were disconnected. But Sunday is the reality glasses you need to see the rest of the week.”

Ford said the church emphasizes that Christians are already saved by the grace of God and do not need to “earn” their way into heaven. For this reason, the church has no specific rules of what Christians can or cannot do. They do, however, teach the reasons why Scripture says not to act on certain things and how to achieve missions of faith.

“I’m not teaching a person how to live,” Ford said. “We want to teach the fundamentals of faith, but we don’t want to make it into some kind of new checklist on a refrigerator. We want (parishioners) to enjoy life within the boundaries of the covenant.”

In terms of religious instruction and theology, the church considers itself Trinitarian. But in terms of Jesus’ salvation, it chooses to be labeled as reformed and Calvinistic. “The church reformed is ever reforming” is a mantra that describes the development and future of Grace Reformed.

Deutsch said a defining aspect of the church is that children worship with the congregation during service instead of going to a separate Sunday school class. The pastors looked to Scripture for the role children played and found children were very involved in the core of the early church.

“We spend our lives segregated and oftentimes it is the church that is the most segregated,” Deutsch said. “We want the children to hear the word preached and see where they ought to be when their parents are in worship. We try to embody a family church life to simultaneously grow together in Christ.”

Deutsch said he doesn’t expect children to act like little adults. But the children are positively influenced by the multiple generations worshiping together because they feel like part of the church, he said.

“The children’s identity is not just with their peers,” Deutsch said. “It’s up in terms of respect for their elders and down in terms of caring for the younger ones.”

Ford and Deutsch said communion and a responsive congregation characterize Sunday service.

They said the church philosophy is not to entertain but to involve members. There is no choir; song lyrics are projected on a screen and the congregation sings together. Though Deutsch preaches on Scripture, there is a dialogue among all members who participate in the service, they said.

“We’re not ancient in a crusty sense, we’re ancient in a deep sense,” he said. “But it’s vibrant, alive and fresh because everybody participates.”

If there is one thing a newcomer takes away after a first service at Grace Reformed Church, Deutsch said, it should be knowledge of Jesus.

“I would hope you would’ve said ‘I don’t remember much about the people, much about the service, but I remember much about Jesus,’” he said. “If we exalted him in all his glory and wonder in a very common place, I would be very satisfied.”

Grace Reformed Church, 409 Calle San Pablo, Ste. 101, has Sunday service at 10:15 a.m.

For more information, visit www.grccamarillo.org.

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