Reformation Month

*In many Protestant churches, the last Sunday in October is generally celebrated at “Reformation Sunday.” In my studies and longing for a connection with the church of the Reformation, I am viewing the whole month of October as Reformation Month.

The following was used in a large group discussion with mixed ages (PDF version can be downloaded here) so some of the content is over explained as well as simplified so as to be understood by children and teens. *


The Protestant Reformation

Photo by Grant Durr on Unsplash

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther, monk and professor of Moral Theology, nailed 95 Theses to the wooden door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany.

Theses were a list of thoughts or beliefs. By nailing the list of thoughts to the church door, Martin Luther was asking for a debate, or a back-and-forth discussion, to be had on the list of thoughts.This was a normal practice and custom in his day.

In many churches today, October 31 marks the day we celebrate the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. The Protestant Reformation was a time period in which many groups broke off from the Catholic Church because of one or more theological thoughts – theses.

Today, the term Protestant is given to any Christian group who does not belong to the Catholic Church or the Eastern Orthodox Church but still holds to the main tenets of the Creeds (Nicene and Apostles). A number of those tenets that we all hold – Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant – are the beliefs

  • in one God who is three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)
  • that the Son – who is fully God – became fully man and died for our sins on the cross
  • that He was raised from the dead after 3 days and later He ascended into Heaven
  • that the Holy Spirit – who is fully God – came upon all who believe

These are the beliefs that make us all Christians. Other beliefs are important but are not essential to our salvation. Some of those beliefs are:

  • style of worship (hymns or choruses, instruments or none, just organ or many instruments)
  • Baptism (infants or adults, full immersion or sprinkling)
  • Communion (grape juice or wine, fresh bread or wafer)

These beliefs are more of personal preferences or different understandings in how we interpret the Bible. These beliefs help aid our understanding of being Christian, but they do not change our identity as Christians.

During the Protestant Reformation, those who broke off from the Catholic Church saw a number of issues occurring in the Catholic Church and wanted to make the Catholic Church better. When they realized they could not make the Catholic Church better, they became Protestants and sought to fix those issues. Some of the reasons people became Protestant were:

  • the belief that a priest is not essential to confession and a person can come before God on their own (priesthood of all believers)
  • faith alone in God is needed to receive forgiveness from God
  • grace alone (unmerited favor) from God gives forgiveness – it cannot be earned
  • the traditions and authority of the church must be built on Scripture
  • all should be able to read Scripture in their own language

Beginning about 30 years later, the Catholic Church had a Counter-Reformation. Some of the outcomes were

  • better training for priests in the spiritual life and theological foundations
  • reform of religious life by returning orders to their spiritual foundations
  • new spiritual movements focusing on the devotional life and a person’s personal relationship with Christ

9.5 Theses for Reformation Month

In honor of the Reformation, here are 9.5 “theses” (or activities) to be done during Reformation Month!

  1. Watch or Read about the life of Martin Luther
    • Watch: Luther, 2003
    • Read: (adults) Here I Stand, Roland Bainton or Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World, Roland Metaxes; (children) Martin Luther: A Man Who Changed the World
  2. Eat Sausage
    • Ulrich Zwingli was a reformer from Switzerland and is one of the fathers of Anabaptists. During Lent of 1522, he preached a sermon called Regarding the Choice and Freedom of Foods. In the sermon he said, “Christians are free to fast or not to fast because the Bible does not prohibit the eating of meat during Lent.”
  3. Sing “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”
    • This is a popular hymn in many Protestant hymnals. Martin Luther wrote this hymn between 1527 & 1529 and based it on Psalm 46.
  4. Play “Nail the Theses to the Door”
    • Just like Pin the Tail on the Donkey, “nail” with tape theses to a door in your house. Read some of the theses while playing!
  5. Memorize the 5 Solas
    • Part of Luther’s theology was the establishment of the 5 Solas :
      • Sola Gratia By Grace Alone
      • Sola FideThrough Faith Alone
      • Solus Christus In Christ Alone
      • Sola Scriptura According to Scripture Alone
      • Soli Deo Gloria For God’s Glory Alone
  6. Memorize TULIP
    • John Calvin is one of the other notable Reformers. Calvin began his work in the early 1530s. His main theologies became known as TULIP:
      • Total Depravity
      • Unconditional Election
      • Limited Atonement
      • Irresistible Grace
      • Preservation of the Saints
  7. Drink (Root)Beer
    • As was the custom in those days, many of the Reformers met at pubs to discuss with contemporaries and students the ideas of the Reformation. Drink a (root)beer and toast the reformers!
  8. Read the Book of Romans or Galatians
    • From 1515-1517, Luther taught classes on Romans and Galatians. During this time, Luther wrestled with the church’s teaching concerning grace and faith. In what is sometimes called his “Damascus Road” or “Tower Experience,” Luther had his Reformation breakthrough and discovery.*
  9. Attend a Different Faith Tradition
    • One ways to learn about the effects of the Reformation is by experiencing other traditions. There are many traditions whose roots are in the Reformation (not just Lutherans and Presbyterians). Visit a tradition other than your own either in person or by watching a service online.
    • And if you have never visited a Catholic (or Orthodox) church, check one out to learn more about the differences and similarities.

9.5 Eat (Gummy) Worms
In 1521, Diet of Worms took place to decide the fate of Martin Luther. A diet is a trial and Worms is the location in Germany. The Diet declared Luther a heretic and forbade anyone helping him.


Reformation Resources

Use this chart for a basic understanding of how the Church’s traditions – or denominations – came to be. Many traditions may be left out as room allowed. If you would like this chart with your tradition on it, let me know. I’d be happy to add your tradition or denomination to the church.
Use this handout to help facilitate a discussion on Church Traditions and practices. Contains a second page which is a drawing exercise designed for kids.
Printable handout for what is included above. Contains the 9.5 Theses activities on a second page.

All Scripture used on Oregon Christian Girl comes from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®  Unless otherwise noted.

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