Last updated on November 19th, 2020
It was a little more than 500 years ago that the Reformation began with Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg. 500 years during which a lot has happened. And when I look at the Lutheran Church today, I sometimes ask myself what Martin Luther would say if he saw what the church is like nowadays? Would he like what he sees? Or would he disapprove? Or maybe a little of both. But since we can’t ask him, we will never be able to answer these questions. At most we can make assumptions based on his writings, including all his songs and the like.
But let’s take a step back and look at what “Reformation” means. “Reformation” comes from the Latin word “reformatio”, which translates as “transformation” or “renewal”. At the same time, it is related to the verb “reformare” – “to reshape” or “to redesign”. So in short: A reformation is about changes, about reshaping the status quo, the current situation.
But what does all of this mean for us in the 21st century? Was the Reformation finished at some point and we reached its goal? I dare say that that is not the case. As important as traditions and rituals are as anchors in our lives, without change there is no growth and without growth we inevitably run towards an end.
At the same time, of course, that doesn’t mean that we should throw everything overboard and start from scratch. That wouldn’t help anyone either. At least not in our existing churches. In my opinion, it’s instead about a balance between tradition and innovation. How can we be there for people to whom traditional forms of worship and congregation are important? How can we reach people from whom those types of worship and congregational life aren’t their forms to express and live their faith? And where do we have to say: This is so important to us that we accept that not everyone in our congregation likes what we plan to do?
Of course, I also realize that we shouldn’t just change things because we want to change something. We have to know what and why, even if we sometimes want to pull out the wrecking ball and start from scratch. But generally speaking, it’s often more about changing certain aspects than about starting completely anew. And for me, change begins with dreaming. And therefore, my question to you is:
Have you ever thought about how you want the church and congregation to be? What would you write down or drawn or name? I always find it fascinating to see and hear what people dream of. And although I have already done this thought exercise twice, I sat down once more and wrote down everything that came spontaneously to my mind:
My dream of church…
Bible study; hope; courage to stop doing things; creativity; diverse number of groups; encouragement of volunteers; high quality publicity; faith; diversity of worship services; authentic; “I have a dream today…”; You got this; music; open-mindedness; regional cooperation; to be on par with so.; volunteers; visiting ministry; courage to try new things; dynamic; coffee hour; digital; interfaith; ecumenical; teamwork; colourful; appreciation; love; Fresh X; stay positive; be free; openness; “church in the round”; pastoral care; roots that give us wings; stay brave; place of longing; dare to dream; shine bright
Maybe you like, may you share with us what your dream of church and congregation looks like?
Vicar Silke Fahl