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. 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, who God used to transform lives and change history.
How the Reformation Society in Cape Town Developed
It was after my 11 country, five-week Mission to Europe in 2005 that the Lord laid it upon my heart to launch The Reformation Society in Cape Town. 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.
Examples of Excellence
We launched our Thursday night Reformation Society meetings January 2006. Having visited 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 Wittenburg 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 over two thousand 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.
The Greatest Century of Reformation
When I was invited to minister at a 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. Initially I had planned to take the whole year to produce this book, but the opportunity of officially launching The Greatest Century of Reformation book in Switzerland was just too good an opportunity to miss. So, The Greatest Century of Reformation book encompasses the lectures and research of the first four months of the Reformation Society meetings in Cape Town 2006. Anyone wanting to start a Reformation Society in their home, church, school or college, will find The Greatest Century of Reformation an invaluable textbook and resource. It includes sixteen chapters and fifteen appendixes. The 220 pages and 180 pictures present the 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.
We Need to Learn From the Doctrines and Devotions of the Reformers
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 audio CDs, PowerPoints, MP3s, data CDs, and even for Reformation exams. We have also now launched www.Reform500.org and www.livingstonefellowship.co.za websites and Reformation 500 Facebook page.
What Do You Want to Accomplish?
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 Savanarola 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 geo-political 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 which can supplement the lectures and presentations.
Inform, Inspire and Involve
The Greatest Century of Reformation also includes: A Chronology of the Reformation, Key Dates, Events and People of the Reformation, 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 now 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 and Victorious Christians - Who Changed the World.
Audio Visual Resources
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 chose 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.
Chose 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.
Incorporate the Material into your 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 DVDs 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 chose 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 7pm on. At 7:30 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 with 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 9:30pm. Most end before 9pm.
Some Great Film Study Series
Sometimes we have worked through a series of DVD documentaries such as Francis Schaefer's How Shall We Then Live ten-part series; Christian History's four-part Overview of Church History; The Amazing Grace - History and Theology of Calvinism eight-part series; or The Way of the Master Evangelistic training programme. The open discussion and open prayer time after such films are often very valuable.
Test Your Knowledge of the Reformation
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.
13 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:
3. Subscribe to the Christian Action Magazine (P.O. Box 23632, Claremont, 7735, Cape Town)
7. Build up a Reformation library of books, CDs and DVDs for members of your local society.
8. Challenge your members to work through the 25 Steps You Can Take for Reformation Today (Appendix XII of The Greatest Century of Reformation).
9. See if you can attend, or organise a Biblical Worldview Seminar, or Great Commission Camp, nearby. See Upcoming Events on www.frontline.org.za, and www.christianaction.org.za websites, as well as Reformation 500 Facebook page for Events.
10. If you are in the Western Cape, you could try to organise a visit to the Huguenot Monument and Museum in Franschhoek. We host a guided tour of the Monument and a Reformation Celebration service at the Huguenot Monument every Reformation Day (31 October).
11. Follow the Reformation Calendar (Appendix III of The Greatest Century of Reformation) throughout the year with the members of your society.
12. See Recommended Resources on the www.ReformationSA.org website for dramatic films and documentaries on the Reformation and related topics, either to screen for your members, or to recommend them to rent and see for themselves.
13. Once you have worked your way through The Greatest Century of Reformation, obtain Victorious Christians - Who Changed the World, The Power of Prayer Handbook, Reforming Our Families, Biblical Principles for Africa and other textbooks from Christian Liberty Books.
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.
Yours for Reformation and Revival
Dr Peter Hammond
RECOMMENDED FILM RESOURCES
* Martin Luther (110 min) Excellent 1950’s Black and White award winning film.
* Luther (120 min) A fast moving big budget (US$100 million) epic on the Great Reformer.
* God’s Outlaw - The Story of William Tyndale (93 min) A well produced drama on the English Bible Translator, Reformer and Martyr who gave his life that we could have the Bible in English.
* Amazing Grace (120 min) Big budget epic on William Wilberforce’s parliamentary battles to end the slave trade.
* What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? (60 min) Excellent Coral Ridge production.
* Francis Schaeffer’s “How Shall We Then Live?” (10x30 min) Monumentally important Worldview overview from the time of the Romans through to our present time.
* The History and Theology of Calvinism (260 min) Tremendous series. Foundational.
* Cromwell (134 min) Tremendous epic on the English Civil War and Puritan general Oliver Cromwell.
* Monumental Kirk Cameron’s Search for America’s National Treasure.
* KJV – The Making of the King James Bible.
* Our Christian Heritage (50 min).
* A Tale of Two Cities (130 min) One of the greatest stories – powerful contrast between English Christianity and French Revolution Humanism.
* The Ten Commandments (220 min) Moses and the Exodus are powerfully depicted in this great award winning epic.
* Ben Hur - One of the greatest films ever. Must viewing. Powerful.
* The Passion (120 min) The Crucifixion, graphically depicted.
* Empty Cities (28 min) Effective Moody Science documentary on ancient civilizations.
* The Way of the Master a- Tremendous evangelistic training programme series.
* Answers in Genesis - Outstanding Creation evangelism resources.
* Evolution Vs. God Way of the Master’s excellent expose of the fraud of Evolutionism.
* The Final Frontier – Death and the Afterlife. A Powerful Evangelistic film aimed at the cynical, skeptical and media saturated.
+ Christian History Institute Overview of Church History (4x30 min) Good overview.
+ Witchcraft Repackaged (120 min) Vital exposé of the occultic Harry Potter phenomenon.
+ The Gods of Entertainment (60 min) Very important exposé of Hollywood’s Humanism.
+ Florence Nightingale (22 min) Inspiring introduction to the Lady With the Lamp.
+ Truth Prevails – Jan Hus (56 min) New documentary on the Reformer and Martyr of Prague.
+ A Christian Manifesto (60 min) Francis Schaefer’s documentary against abortion.
+ The Spreading Flame - An overview of Protestant history.
+ Lady Jane (135 min) The brave Protestant queen who was martyred under “Bloody Mary” after only 9 days reign.
+ Spurgeon Tonight (56 min) The Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon.
+ Jesus of Nazareth (380 min) Beautifully presented.
+ It’s a Wonderful Life (130 min) Classic Christmas film on the impact of a life lived for others.
+ Warriors of Honour (Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson) (80min)
+ Beyond Gates of Splendour (96 min) The story of the 5 missionary martyrs in Ecuador.
+ The Story of Eric Liddell (80 min) Inspiring documentary of Scottish Olympic champion of Chariots of Fire fame and his martyrdom as a missionary to China..
+ The Da Vinci Delusion (60 min) Coral Ridge Ministries exposé of the Da Vinci Code.
+ Candle in the Dark – the Story of William Carey (140 min) Christian History Institute drama on the Father of the Modern Missionary movement.
+ Captivated – Finding freedom in a media captive culture (107 min).
- God and Generals (220 min) The war between the States particularly focusing on the Christian generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.
- Zulu Dawn (120 min) Historical epic on the Battle of Isandlwana 1879.
- The Agony and the Ecstasy (140 min) Historical epic on Michelangelo’s artistic masterpiece on the ceiling of the Cistine Chapel.
- Becket (150 min) Epic on English Martyr Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury.
- Apocalypto (138 min) An exposé on the brutal Central American Mayan “civilization”.
- The End of the Spear – Dramatic big screen drama on the missionary martyrs in Ecuador.
* Highly Recommended
- Recommended with caution