by Johnathan Arnold
Sunday was an exciting time at our church. We used the amazing story of the Reformation to point people to the eternal Word of God and the all-imporant doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ to the glory of God alone. Here are a few ways that we celebrated Reformation Sunday:
1. We took it seriously. We started planning for Reformation Sunday ahead of time in a pastors' meeting. It was our conviction that: (1) Every Christian should be familiar with the Reformation and its major themes, especially salvation by faith and the authority of Scripture. (2) A Reformation Sunday service needs to have clear implications for our lives today as a God-glorifying, gospel-centered people. (3) We have a responsibility as pastors to invest time and resources into making it meaningful. We knew that we had one shot to get it right and make a lifelong impact on our people.
2. We prepared the hearts of our people well in advance. On Sunday mornings, our youth Sunday School class studied the Reformation for several weeks. On Sunday evenings, we preached verse-by-verse through Galatians (Martin Luther's favorite book of the Bible and a hard-hitting gospel epistle that greatly impacted the reformers). By using several Reformation illustrations, we planted seeds for a more in-depth look on Reformation Sunday.
3. We highlighted the Reformation in our church bulletin. By including quotes from the reformers, Reformation pictures, or a short-write up in the "Pastor's Desk" or "From the Pastor" section, one can further reinforce the themes of the service.
4. We sang "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" during congregational singing. Our song leader is highly intelligent, so we also asked him to share a few thoughts on this important hymn written by Martin Luther. He pointed out that it became known as "the battle hymn of the Reformation" and that it has been called "the greatest hymn of the greatest man in the greatest period in German history." By recruiting another person to share on the Reformation, we reinforced its importance.
5. We passed out short books on the Reformation as a gift to each of our families. These books provided an excellent summary of the Reformation while being gospel-centered and devotional in nature. They were simple enough for young teenagers but interesting enough for mature believers. Good reading material is an important part of spiritual formation. By supplementing Bible reading with spiritual books, we encourage our people to think about life from a Christian perspective.
6. We shared a Reformation themed message. The Sunday morning message told the "big picture" story of the Reformation and why the key themes of the Reformation still matter: faith alone, grace alone, Christ alone, Scripture alone, and the glory of God alone. Sometimes, we are afraid to talk about history lest we bore people! In fact, people are amazed when we skillfully connect the past to the present. We asked our congregation, "What would you say if we suggested that we should no longer study the American Revolution in our schools?" They were horrified! We were then able to explain why studying the Reformation is actually much more important for those who call themselves Christians!
7. We pointed people to resources for further study. There is so much to learn from the Reformation! It is packed with exciting stories, amazing testimonies of God's grace, and abundant insights for doctrine, piety, and the life of the church. There is only so much that can be covered in one Reformation Sunday service.
8. We glorified God, not the Reformers. When done well, a study of the Reformation is transformational. It points to the eternal Word of God and the all-imporant doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ to the glory of God alone.
What did you do for Reformation Sunday? We'd love to hear from you. Share your ideas by commenting below.
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