Are we in the midst of a Third Reformation of Church?
The First Reformation
The First Reformation put the Bible; The Word of God, back into the hands of ordinary people. Up until that point, the Bible was read by priests in Latin and the common person could not understand what was written. John Wycliffe and others were used by God to translate the Bible into English (the common tongue).
On the advent of the printing press, Bible’s could be reproduced without having to be copied by hand. It was then that believers found out through being able to read the Bible for themselves that we are made right with God by grace through faith alone…not through religious rituals and dogma, selling of indulgences, buying your way out of purgatory and other false doctrines being spread by the Catholic Church at that time
The Evangelical Movement has developed from this foundation…
As a result of this Movement, many believers now look to The Word for direction for life and ministry!
The Second Reformation
The Second Reformation beginning around 1901 acknowledged that receiving the empowering of the Holy Spirit and the Gifts of the Spirit are for today!
This experience was given impetus through The Welsh Revival and the Asuza Street Revival.
That led to the Global Pentecostal Movement, Charismatic Renewal and The Third Wave known as the New Wine/New Church Movements and Prophetic Movements that characterize well-known churches around the world today…
As I result of this Movement, many believers now look to The Spirit for direction for life and ministry!
The Third Reformation
The Third Reformation is about The Wineskin…
Since around the year 2000, the question has been asked; ‘What is Church?‘ and then ‘What does it mean to be a disciple who makes disciples…’
If The First Reformation put the Bible, The Word, back into the hands of ordinary people
And in The Second Reformation, The Holy Spirit and His Gifts were recognized as active in the lives of believers and the Church today
The Third Reformation puts Church back into the hands of ordinary people…
‘Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. And teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”’ -Matthew 28:18-20
The Third Reformation assumes that:
- Everyone is called to be a disciple who also makes disciples
- Lowers the bar of what it means to be church whilst raising the bar on what it means to be a disciple
- If making disciples involves going, baptizing and teaching obedience, then all disciples are commanded to be baptized whilst also baptizing others (see Matthew 28:18-20)
- If church is expressed ‘simply‘, it means that anyone can gather disciples and host the church wherever they live, work and play (start a church in their home, work and leisure). Simple practices easily multiply!
- If all disciples can make disciples and form churches, the hierarchical separation between the clergy and laity can be finally broken down making way for the Priesthood of all believers
- Fivefold / APEST giftings of apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds & teachers are normative for the health, growth, unity and maturity of The Church. Every member of the Body have a leaning towards at least one of these Jesus Gifts (see Ephesians 4:7-11) and reproduces after their own kind
- Church Planting or Gospel Planting can occur through sending out teams with as little as 2 people as Jesus did in Luke 10 & Matthew 10 to find the Person of Peace! The apostles including Paul appear to have continued this pattern of Pioneer Mission throughout the Book of Acts
- The Lord’s Supper is expressed as a common Bring&Share meal as it was when Jesus first instituted it, and as the Early Church practiced it (see Acts 2:42-47). The meeting Is the eating. Most church gatherings are participatory, interactive and multivoiced expressions where each one Brings their Gifts to share and there’s none needy amongst us!
- Church formation (ecclesiology) looks to the pictures, principles and practices of The Church as expressed in the Word (see Gospels, Book of Acts and Letters to the Churches), follows the leading of the Spirit and is birthed missionally and incarnationally in the cultural soil/context where the gospel is planted
- Multi-Cultural Teams. Urban Movements will be led by Multicultural and Multi-gifted Teams that will increasingly reflect the diverse make-up of the community, like the church in Antioch (see Acts 13:1-3)
- Movemental Ecclesiology recognises both local leaders (plural) and translocal travelling workers, whilst also embracing Church as all Shapes & Sizes
- Missions characterised as From Anywhere to Everywhere. In the past missionaries were sent from the West to the Rest. But in the 21st Century mission has become Global Mission. Missionaries will find themselves engaged in 3D Commission of discipling geographic places, cultural and ethnic peoples and kingdom spheres
- Persecution and Hardship is normative in the lives of disciples who are hearing the Word and putting it into practice whilst also making disciples of others. Through obedience to Jesus in the face of suffering, disciples and churches multiplied rapidly (see Acts 8:1-3)
- Sons and Daughters of God are led by the Spirit in their day-to-day lives. Hearing the Voice of God can involve being led supernaturally through visions, dreams and encounters with angels sent from God. It can also mean simply listening to the Still Small Voice. We simply ‘Listen to Jesus and Do What He Says!’
- As Salt&Light in the world all disciples are called to be active agents/ambassadors of the Kingdom. This gospel of the Kingdom will be preached throughout the entire world and then the end will come. The kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
We need both the New Wine AND the New Wineskins!
We can see these 3 Reformations pictured and prefigured in the Three Major Feasts:
PASSOVER and The First Reformation
PENTECOST and The Second Reformation
TABERNACLES and The Third Reformation
Britain in Reformation
Here in Britain, since the turn of the 21st Century, ‘The Mission-Shaped Church‘ Report galvanized Fresh Expressions resulting in churches and Missional Communities spreading into social spaces, workplaces and wherever people do life together…
More recently MYRIAD; another Anglican initiative, is empowering ‘Lay People’ to plant churches. The goal is for 10,000 new churches across England!
Globally, there has been a plethora of books on house church, organic church, simple church and now, microchurches…
The ‘NoPlaceLeft’ movement and ‘The Last Reformation’ puts the mission of making disciples back into the hands of ordinary people
Here in Britain, we are playing our part in this Third Reformation by catalyzing and mentoring leaders in new forms of church of all shapes and sizes…
When we see The Word, The Spirit AND The New Wineskins coming together…
Then, we will then see Jesus, the Head of His Church, who stated:
‘I Will Build My Church!’