True Reformation

A Christian man is the most free lord of all, and subject to none; a Christian man is
the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to every one. — Martin Luther, The Freedom of the Christian

The New Reformation

We are about the commemorate (which means we may remember it or we may not) the 498th year of the Reformation. Nearly 500 years ago Martin Luther raised some challenges to the Church at the time… and was kicked out eventually.

A little reformation every once in awhile may be good… if you’re willing to get kicked out.

We probably have no idea of what “reformation” may look like. We have ideas of how we want to “change” things… but putting drums on a church stage isn’t “reformation” in worship. It’s re-arranging furniture.

I have no big ideas for “reformation.” I, like Luther, would like a RETURN to some things. And they’re not big ideas. These are just simple longings of my heart.

  1. I would love a CHANGE in how we think of “Church” in our current American context. We’ve talked about how we realize there is a “consumer” mentality… but then the biggest voices tend to go back to their megachurches and they keep consuming. I would love to see a more solid ecclesiology development especially among my tribe: the Pentecostals. We need an anchor in the CHURCH of Jesus Christ. He is the Head… and the Head has a BODY. And the Body of Christ is vital.
  2. I would love us to quit worshiping worship.
  3. I would love a return to true intergenerational fellowship and development and quit segmenting age groups. We need to speak into each other’s lives, but each age group has so little respect for another age group. The other day I was talking with a student and let him know we need each other. I learn from 20-somethings, but 20-somethings also need to understand they can learn from old guys like me as well. And every once in awhile 20-somethings still need old guys to slap them upside the head and say, “HEY! Quit being dumb! Fly straight!” and 20-somethings need to learn how to hear it. (And for guys like me, I’m still needing that same action from older saints as well!)
  4. I would love to see pastors get deeper in the Word… and for academics to quit harassing us for being too shallow. I long for academics to get out of their offices and instead of decrying a lack of education among pastors, go serve a small church and try it on for size. Realize the battle we go through as pastors and we don’t have all the time in the world to parse Greek verbs, but that doesn’t make us schmucks all the time. AND I would love for pastors to dig into some deeper thinking and reading and move beyond the fluff that passes for “cutting edge” reading these days. (And while we’re at it, let’s quitting using that dumb phrase.)

A few thoughts on a grouchy morning as we head into Reformation Day. Maybe that’s how Luther got into all this trouble: he woke up grouchy one day.

The remnant and the reformation

In Draw the Circle Mark Batterson calls for a reformation. It only takes a few people praying. A remnant that will be faithful can see God move in powerful ways.

One area of reformation I believe we desperately need in the evangelical/Pentecostal church is a reformation of worship. That we get away from our “rock star” worship team approach and just let people sing and call out to God.

I’m not asking for a return to hymns. I think there are some great songs being written… if we can get them in a decent key everyone can sing so it just doesn’t feature those with “rock star” vocal ranges.

We just need people to cry out in worship together. 

It’s not just the church leadership choosing to put a Grammy-worthy music team on the platform with all the lights focused on them and the sound thumping through the back walls like a freight train.

It’s people tolerating that kind of worship . 

If people just simply refused to enter into that type of atmosphere, how leadership presented it would change.

The problem is this: I hear “leaders” talk about changes that are needed and I hear people in the seats complain about the rock star mentality, but no one is wiling to make the first move.

If the worship team changes their approach and it turns out the thousands in the seats really wanted the rock star performance, the crowd will dwindle a bit. If people just quit refusing to go to a church with the rock star performance, they fear missing something… and they might fear singing out on their own… seeking God in a more intimate way… fearing what God may reveal in their own lives…

It’s a bit of a Catch 22.

We need this reformation, though. We are NOT worshiping God in fullness right now. And that needs a change.

We need even a remnant that chooses to say, “We don’t have to go this way any more. We need to hear from God and we need to move where HE is leading us.”

A Prayer for Revival and Reform

14 Please come back, God of heavenly forces!
Look down from heaven and perceive it!
Attend to this vine,
15     this root that you planted with your strong hand,
this son whom you secured as your very own.
16 It is burned with fire. It is chopped down.
They die at the rebuke coming from you.
17 Let your hand be with the one on your right side—
with the one whom you secured as your own—
18     then we will not turn away from you!
Revive us so that we can call on your name.
19     Restore us, Lord God of heavenly forces!
Make your face shine so that we can be saved! (Ps. 80:14-19, CEB)

We need to hear from heaven once again. We need a reviving in our spirits from heaven. We need a new reformation to sustain the new work of God we so desperately need in our lives.

Lord, please not only hear our prayer… but please let us PRAY this prayer!


Revival or Reform?

Something rattling around in my brain lately has been the question: Do I ask for “revival” or “reformation?”

Jeremiah helps me out on this one:

This is what the Lord of heavenly forces, the God of Israel, says: Improve your conduct and your actions, and I will dwell with you in this place.Don’t trust in lies: “This is the Lord’s temple! The Lord’s temple! The Lord’s temple!” No, if you truly reform your ways and your actions; if you treat each other justly; if you stop taking advantage of the immigrant, orphan, or widow; if you don’t shed the blood of the innocent in this place, or go after other gods to your own ruin, only then will I dwell with you in this place, in the land that I gave long ago to your ancestors for all time. (Jer. 7:3-7, CEB)

Whatever you want to call it, we need it in this day. 


A New Reformation

The sad thing is a call for “new reformation” is old hat. It could be called a new “manifesto,” but that’s been used as well.

Simply stated, I have a stirring in my heart for the Church in America to do something the culture in America is refusing to do: grow up. 

In America we are moving more and more into delayed adolescence, then reverse adolescence. There isn’t much in the way of “adulthood” anymore.

Kids graduating high school are less and less equipped for life as adults. Colleges are becoming more like extended high schools.

“Adults” are reverting back to juvenile actions. Exhibit A, of course, is Washington, D.C., but I really digress if I say anymore on that one!

This is a place where the Church should lead the way. We can, of course, point to all kinds of things where the Church is not leading the way.

This is why I call for us to actually grow up and lead the way.

This is the stirring in my heart.

A stirring in my heart for any number of us who name the name of Christ in America to return to a heart begging God for fresh beginnings and return to some basic ideas.

— A heart to know Christ and him crucified.

— To declare with conviction what we declare with our mouths at communion:
— Christ has died.
— Christ is risen.
— Christ is coming again.

— To lean heavily on prayer like our lives depended on it.

— To draw our strength from the written Word as it leads us to the Living Word.

— To love the Body of Christ.

— To love our neighbor.

— To once again hear the command of our Lord to wait until you are clothed with power from on high. We need a fresh touch of his power once again.

We need a new reformation.