How to Start a Reformation Society
"Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the breach, Restorer of streets to dwell in." Isaiah 58:12
You Can Start a Reformation Society.
It is not as daunting and difficult a task as you may first think. Our prayer is that Reformation Societies would be started in many hundreds of homes, churches, schools and colleges throughout Africa and the world. It is our earnest prayer that through these multiplied Reformation societies there would be a Revival of interest in the Doctrines and Devotions of the Reformers, whom God used to transform lives and change history.
How the Reformation Society Developed
It was after my 11-country, five-week Mission to Europe in 2005 that the Lord impressed it upon my heart to launch The Reformation Society in Cape Town. I had the privilege of visiting the great Reformation centres in Europe: The Schlosskirche (Castle Church) where Luther nailed the 95 Theses 31 October 1517; the Stadkirche where Luther preached at least three times a week, Lutherhaus which was the original university of Wittenberg and Melanchthonhaus in Germany, in Zurich I visited Grossmünster (The Great Cathedral) where Ulrich Zwingli launched the Swiss Reformation, 1 January 1519; Zwinglihaus and his place of birth in Wildhaus, the great Reformation Monument in Geneva, Calvin’s Auditoir and Academy and St Pierre (St Peter's) where Calvin preached daily in Geneva; the Martyrs Memorial in Oxford and many other Reformation sites in Europe. I accumulated many thousands of photographs and a library of books on, or from, the Reformers. From these resources, I developed lectures and PowerPoint presentations on each of the key Reformers, doctrines and events which God so wonderfully used to transform the Church and to change the world.
Examples of Excellence
We launched our weekly Thursday night Reformation Society meetings in January 2006. From the beginning, we realised that this pilot project would be not only for our own benefit, but to develop resources, strategies and insights which would bless and benefit others throughout South Africa, Africa and even further afield.
The Greatest Century of Reformation
When I was invited to minister at the Minister's Conference near Zurich and at the Geneva Bible Institute, in May 2006, I determined to complete the book project: The Greatest Century of Reformation in time to launch it in Switzerland. By God's grace and in time for the 500th anniversary of when Professor Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door of the Schlosskirche, we have recently revised and expanded the edition of The Greatest Century of Reformation. It now includes twenty chapters and sixteen appendices. The 288 pages and over 200 pictures present incredible stories of the courageous Reformers and the momentous events which God used to bring about the greatest Revival of Faith and freedom in history. Anyone wanting to start a Reformation Society in their home, church, school or college, will find The Greatest Century of Reformation of an invaluable textbook and resource.
Doctrines and Devotion
The Reformation was one of the most momentous turning points in world history. It was led by men of strong Faith, deep convictions, great intelligence, high moral standards and tremendous courage. The energies that were released by the rediscovery of the Bible in the common tongue led to the most extraordinary Spiritual Revival in history. The Reformation freed the Christians of Northern Europe from the decadence of renaissance paganism and led to the greatest birth of freedom and scientific discoveries in history. The Reformers of the 16th century won for us the principles of religious freedom, liberty of conscience, the rule of law, separation of powers and constitutionally limited republics. There is such an abundance of inspiring material, gripping stories, colourful characters, life-transforming doctrines, incredible courage and tremendous examples of God's miraculous answers to prayer that you will not lack for great material to inform, inspire and involve your people in Reformation.
Reformation Resources on Line
You will also find our www.ReformationSA.org website a very helpful resource for lecture notes, recommended films, books, available audios, videos, PowerPoints, MP3s and Digital Libraries. We have also launched www.Reform500.org and www.livingstonefellowship.co.za websites and Reformation 500 Facebook page. Numerous audio lectures have been placed on our SermonAudio.com page and over 240 PowerPoint presentations have been added to our Slideshare page.
Determine Purpose and Goals
Firstly you need to determine your purpose and goals. You may want to view the Constitution of the Reformation Society on the www.ReformationSA.org as you determine to set your own aims.
Meet the Reformers
Should you want to teach The Greatest Century of Reformation to your students or congregation, you can download lecture notes from www.ReformationSA.org, or copy the relevant chapter from The Greatest Century of Reformation book. You do not have to follow the chronological approach that we did in our Thursday night meetings. However, it does make sense to begin with the pre-Reformers: The Waldensians, Professor John Wycliffe, Jan Hus of Bohemia and Savonarola of Florence. Then Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, William Tyndale, William Farel, John Calvin, John Knox, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, Heinrich Bullinger, Pierre Viret, Philipp Melanchthon and Martin Bucer.
Understand the Events
We also have overviews: How the Reformation Changed the Church, How the Reformation Changed the World and a geopolitical overview of the 16th century Reformation: A Century of Repression, Revolt and Reformation. We also did an overview of The Popes of Rome and some of their abuses and heresies which provoked the Reformation.
Study the Doctrines
Sometimes we focused on specific doctrines and devotions, such as Luther's Practical Programme to Revive Your Prayer Life; and The Five Points of Calvinism. We also looked at What the Reformers Taught Concerning Islam.
PowerPoints and Films
In addition to the lecture notes, PowerPoints were prepared for each of these and a Resource List of suitable available films that can supplement the lectures and presentations.
Inform, Inspire and Involve
The Greatest Century of Reformation also includes: A Chronology of the Reformation, A Reformation Calendar of Key Dates and Events, a Reformation Key Contacts List, Resources for Reformation, The Power of Printing, a list of Roman Catholic Heresies and articles dealing with Libel Against Luther, Did the Reformers Persecute the Anabaptists? and other practical resources that can help you inform, inspire and involve your people in Reformation today.
In addition to The Greatest Century of Reformation, we have published other textbooks that can help Reformation Societies or Reformation curriculums in schools: The Power of Prayer Handbook, Reforming Our Families, Biblical Principles for Africa, Sketches from South African History, Old Testament Survey, Greatest Century of Missions and Victorious Christians - Who Changed the World.
Audio Visual Resources
There are also many more audio-CDs, MP3s, data CDs with PowerPoints and some DVDs available from Christian Liberty Books (P.O. Box 358, Howard Place, 7450, South Africa, Email: email@example.com; Website: www.christianlibertybooks.co.za; Tel: 021-689-7478; Fax: 086-551-7490).
Where You Need to Start
So, much of the research has been done, the resources are available and for you to start a Reformation Society in your area, you need to choose a time and a place and invite others to join you. You do not need many people to begin. Our mission began with a prayer fellowship of three soldiers in a military base. The important thing is dedication and commitment.
Choose Your Venue
Where is the best place to meet? Your home? One of the rooms, or a side hall, in your local church? In a classroom at school? Determine your venue.
Determine the Most Suitable Day and Time
Next, discuss with the first willing participants which time would best suit them. Then plan your first meeting. If there are just a few of you, you may want to just start by ordering the Reformation CDs, or MP3s and gathering together with The Greatest Century of Reformation books as your textbook. Listening to one of the lectures each week and following the discussion questions for each chapter at the back of The Greatest Century of Reformation book would make an interesting time of study.
Church Mid-Week Study Group
Should you manage to have this as part of the church mid-week study group, or a school class, it would be advantageous to obtain a video projector so as to be able to show the PowerPoint for each chapter and to be able to screen Reformation films to your group. We have many Reformation Society PowerPoint presentations uploaded for you to access on Slideshare accessible through www.ReformationSA.org.
A Suggested Programme
Of course, you must choose what will best work with your situation. However, what we have done in Cape Town is set aside Thursday evenings for Reformation Society meetings. We begin with tea and fellowship from 7 pm. At 19:30 pm we sing a Hymn, open with prayer and give a report back on outreaches, activities, projects, new materials available, upcoming events and other items for prayer. We then have the main presentation for the evening, which may focus on a Reformer, a doctrinal issue, or a great event. This will normally be accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation for visual illustrations. This presentation will be followed by a time of questions and answers and open discussion. Sometimes a supplementary film on the same subject will be screened and then we will close in a time of open prayer. We try not to let these meetings go longer than 9:30 pm. Most end before 9 pm.
Test Your Knowledge
When you have gone through The Greatest Century of Reformation chapters, or CDs, you may want to request the Reformation exam paper to test your knowledge. We also have other multiple-choice exam papers that you can obtain from us, including the Bible Exam, Missionary Exam and Muslim Evangelism Exam.
15 Step Check List to Establishing a Reformation Society
To assist you in a step-by-step process for launching a Reformation Society in your area here is a recommended checklist:
Please keep in touch, let us know how we can assist practically and pray for you.
May the Lord abundantly bless and strengthen you as you seek to be informed, inspired and involved in the doctrines and devotions of the Reformers who changed the world forever. May God be pleased to bless our studies and endeavours with Spiritual Revival in our lives, in our churches and in our communities.
Dr. Peter Hammond
The Reformation Society
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa,
See also: Recommended Film Resources
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