Categories
Christian Living

The Downside of the Protestant Reformation

For all its good, the Protestant Reformation also spawned a wave of disunity that continues to this day

Reformation Day is one October 31. It celebrates the Protestant Reformation. I love the Reformation even though it was actually a spiritual revolution against the established status quo. (But perhaps that’s part of its allure.) After all, the root of Protestant is protest.

Though the actual reformation isn’t fixed in one date, on one person, or from one location, as a matter of convenience Martin Luther emerged as its posterchild, Germany became its setting, and Luther’s posting of 95 points of contention on October 31, 1517 set the date.

Hence we have established Reformation Day to communicate our celebration of this much larger movement.

I understand that Luther didn’t intent to spark a religious revolt. What he sought was to bring about needed change within the established church, a most admirable and lofty pursuit. Though most of the changes he advocated did eventually occur; they didn’t happen quickly.

Instead it took decades. In the meantime impatient change backers, anxious to correct religious errors, set out to form a new church, a reformed practice with the Bible as its anchor.

This was fine, except that not one new church emerged, but many, all variations on a theme but lacking tolerance and love for one another. They argued, they fought, and they killed one another in the name of their brand of religious theology.

Each variation of Protestant thought assumed it was right, which implied everyone else was wrong.

Each variation of Protestant theology assumes it is right, which implies everyone else was wrong. Click To Tweet

Today, almost five hundred years later, we’re still stuck in this mindset. Each person and each preacher and each church establishes their sincerely held view of spiritual thought and then rejects all others who disagree.

But that’s not a problem, they say. The dissenters, the ones rejected, just go out and start their own church, complete with their own spiritual litmus test of who’s in and who’s out. As a result we now have 43,000 Protestant denominations.

How deeply this must grieve Jesus who earnestly prayed that his followers would live in harmony, that we would be one. And, for all the good it produced, we have the Reformation to thank for this most unbiblical result of division, dissension, and disunity.

God help us all.

Read more about Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation in Peter DeHaan’s book Martin Luther’s 95 Theses: Celebrating the Protestant Reformation in the 21st Century. Buy it today to discover more about Martin Luther and his history-changing 95 theses.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Christian Living

Martin Luther’s Concerns

Martin Luther’s 95 Concerns Were Distributed in Printed Form and Essentially Went Viral

Martin Luther lived five hundred years ago. He was born at the dawn of the modern era. He became a leading figure in the Protestant Reformation. A key technology in birthing the modern era was the printing press.

The printing press also helped drive the Reformation. It propelled the spread of information. This moved a premodern society into the modern era. (A similar change occurs today, as the internet helps us move from the modern era into the postmodern era.)

This printing technology broadcast a message of spiritual enlightenment to a people poised for religious change. We politely refer to the transformation that emerged as the Protestant Reformation, but the word revolution might better describe the spiritual rebellion that followed.

Luther’s List of Concerns

The fuse that ignited this came from a list of ninety-five concerns that this German monk had about the abuse of one specific church practice: the sale of indulgences, which, at the risk of oversimplification, allowed people to buy their salvation.

We call Martin Luther’s concerns, his talking points, as his ninety-five theses. He wrote it in Latin, so the masses wouldn’t know about his concerns.

However, without Luther’s knowledge, well-meaning followers translated his ninety-five theses into German and printed copies for the people to read.

This turned his handwritten list into a printable tract, which saw wide distribution throughout the country and spread his concerns to a much larger audience.

Widespread Distribution

Though not all Germans could read German, they could understand it as others read to them. What they heard disturbed them, likely in part because many of them had paid for full indulgences, which Martin essentially outed as a scam.

Then others translated his ninety-five points into other European languages. This spread his message across the continent. Though five centuries prior to the internet, his list of ninety-five theses went viral—long before the information super highway and Twitter existed.

The private discussion Martin Luther sought with Church leaders never happened. Instead... Click To Tweet

Outrage ensued. The private, internal discussion he sought with Church leaders never happened. Instead, a revolution resulted.

But Martin never wanted to lead a rebellion or become its figurehead, he didn’t intend his ninety-five points to attack the Roman Catholic Church, and he certainly didn’t mean to spark a revolt.

Martin wanted to work for change within the system. But the laity, now aware of his concerns, were poised to rebel against what they saw as an unsympathetic Church that exploited them and didn’t care about them or their plight. The people wanted a religious revolt, and that’s what they got.

Read more about Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation in Peter DeHaan’s book Martin Luther’s 95 Theses: Celebrating the Protestant Reformation in the 21st Century. Buy it today to discover more about Martin Luther and his history-changing 95 theses.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Christian Living

Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses and the Fervor They Caused

Once the people read Luther’s 95 theses they pushed for a change he hadn’t intended

Though most Protestants know of Martin Luther’s ninety-five theses, few have ever read them. Here’s why:

First written in Latin and then translated into German, neither of these versions of Luther’s ninety-five theses helps us as English-speaking readers. Several English translations exist, but their formal language, complex sentence structure, and unfamiliar terms make them hard to understand.

The fact that Martin wrote his original document five hundred years ago in another culture further complicates our ability to understand them today.

So difficult to comprehend, few people invest the time to wade through Martin’s ninety-five points of contention. And most who try give up after the first few.

Understanding Luther’s 95 Theses

In considering Luther’s ninety-five points of debate, it’s important to remember that they don’t stand alone. Many build upon prior items.

If some of his theses seem contradictory, it may be because there exists a fine line of distinction between what Martin opposed and what he approved. Or that we fail to grasp his subtle nuances.

When Luther’s followers distributed printed copies of his ninety-five theses, they essentially went viral and sparked a religious rebellion. Many mark this as the birth of the Protestant Reformation.

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther stepped forward to post his ninety-five theses. Click To Tweet

Support from Others

However, aside from Martin Luther, many notable theologians and ministers breathed life into this movement, too. They helped advance the cause, of which Luther played a part.

These include John Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli, along with William Tyndale, Jan Hus, Peter Waldo, John Wycliffe, John Knox, and George Wishart, among others. Some were peers, some preceded Luther, and others followed him, yet their common goal was reform.

In determining a date for the onset of the Protestant Reformation, the most accessible one is October 31, 1517. This is the day Martin Luther stepped forward to post his ninety-five theses.

As such, many assign this date as the beginning of the Reformation. And they put Luther, the man behind the list, as its chief advocate.

Read more about Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation in Peter DeHaan’s book Martin Luther’s 95 Theses: Celebrating the Protestant Reformation in the 21st Century. Buy it today to discover more about Martin Luther and his history-changing 95 theses.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Christian Living

Should We Deconstruct Christianity?

Celebrate Reformation as an Ongoing Process

If you investigate what the word deconstructionism means, you may encounter a disconnected understanding, which seems to vary depending on the context. At a basic level, to deconstruct means looking at what is and asking, “Why?”

This question opens the door to dismantle status quo conventions and practices to explore the foundation beneath them. Then deconstruction rebuilds on that foundation from an informed perspective. The effort to deconstruct results in the opportunity to reconstruct.

Deconstruction

Deconstructionism is something most Millennials embrace. Though I’m not a Millennial by birth, I do share much of their mindset and many of their ideals. To adapt the present-day lingo, I identify as Millennial.

Most of what I write about in my books and blog posts embrace this underlying theme of deconstruction from a Christian perspective. I look at what is and ask why?

It seems, I’m always wondering, “why?

I dismantle the status quo to its biblical foundation. From there I reconstruct faith practices using Scripture as the basis for truth. For example, at a basic level, I recently looked at the proper posture for prayer. On a more serious note, I also explored how to be saved.

In between these bookends, I’ve examined and attempted to reform a plethora of God-honoring spiritual practices and faith perspectives over the years.

I don’t do this because I’m questioning my faith. I do it to grow my faith and my relationship with Jesus.

Reformation

If the idea to deconstruct concerns you, here’s another word: reform. To me, spiritual deconstruction and reformation are two words with the same lofty goal.

The Protestant Reformation happened five centuries ago, often pinned to the date Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door on October 31, 1517. But this work of Luther and other like-minded Christian inquisitors wasn’t a once-and-done initiative. Reformation is ongoing. And we may need it today more than any other time in the past 500 years.

Though Luther’s reform efforts eventually expanded to cover a wide plethora of unbiblical faith practices, it all started with indulgences. For many followers of Jesus, the word indulgence is an unknown idea and a confusing concept. In simple terms, an indulgence is a way to reduce the amount of punishment for sins by taking an action, such as saying a specific prayer (often a stipulated number of times), going to a certain place, or performing a specified good deed—as in doing penance.

These actions are all admirable, yet in Luther’s day the practice of indulgences expanded to an unbiblical, unhealthy, and selfish level. Indulgences, which, at the risk of oversimplification, allowed people to effectively buy their salvation without repenting or making any effort to follow Jesus. It was a church fundraising effort run amuck.

This practice of indulgences so concerned Luther that he wrote a treatise listing ninety-five concerns he had that related to the churches then practice of indulgences. We refer to this list as Luther’s ninety-five theses. His goal was to reform—that is, to deconstruct and then reconstruct—indulgences.

Though Luther sought a respectful discussion among church leaders about the overreach of indulgences, he lost control of the discussion when his well-meaning followers translated his concerns into German, printed the list, and shared them with the masses. This removed his hope for making an informed and intentional change within the Church.

Many other voices lent their concerns to the church’s practices of the day, with each one pointing toward the need for reform—to deconstruct and reconstruct. But it was Luther’s 95 theses that we often point to as the central impetus for the Protestant Reformation. The date pinned to this Reformation is the above-mentioned October 31, 1517, even though significant reform work by others preceded and followed that date.

The collective result of all this work to deconstruct and reconstruct was a new faith practice, eventually known as Protestantism. Note the root word protest, which is what the movement was: a protest against the Church. For its part, the Roman Catholic church later embarked on its own mini reformation, addressing many of Luther’s concerns.

Let us better inform and reform our spiritual practices to grow our faith and walk closer with our Lord. Click To Tweet

Ongoing Reforms

Many who embrace the Protestant Reformation don’t view reform as a singular act. Instead, they see it as a principal that points to the need for ongoing reformation.

Whether we call this work deconstruct or reform, may we forever ask the imperative question of why? As we do so, let us better reform and inform our spiritual practices to grow our faith and walk closer with our Lord.

Toward that end, I pledge to continue to ask why and will share my conclusions here and in my books.

Read more about Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation in Peter DeHaan’s book Martin Luther’s 95 Theses: Celebrating the Protestant Reformation in the 21st Century. Buy it today to discover more about Martin Luther and his history-changing 95 theses.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Peter DeHaan News

New Book: Martin Luther’s 95 Theses

Have you ever wondered what Martin Luther’s 95 Theses actually said?

If so, you’re not alone. Finally, there’s an accessible guide to Luther’s most revolutionary words.

Martin Luther changed the course of church history. His 95 Theses are considered a groundbreaking document that sparked the Reformation and altered countless lives.

But most people today have never read them and don’t understand them.

In Martin Luther’s 95 Theses: Celebrating the Protestant Reformation in the 21st Century, Peter DeHaan takes Luther’s contentions and turns them into understandable, bite-sized snippets, short enough to keep your attention. He explains their meaning and makes them accessible for today’s reader.

With a helpful snapshot of Martin Luther’s life, you’ll get an easy-to-understand overview of the historical and religious context of his day, as well as the impact of his history-making document.

Martin Luther’s 95 Theses combines a concise history lesson with an easy-to-digest breakdown of each one so that you can:

  • Uncover the basics of the Reformation
  • Learn why Luther was inspired to write his 95 theses
  • Understand Luther’s words in today’s language
  • See how the theses are relevant to your life and your church
  • Discover how his message can inspire and transform your faith today

In Martin Luther’s 95 Theses you’ll get the inside story of what led Luther to post these vital statements and how they apply to people today. A discussion guide to use with your small group is included.

An advocate for authentic church practices, Peter DeHaan, PhD sees reform as an ongoing process in order to advance the kingdom of God. His desire is to encourage Christians to better align their lives with their faith.

Let Martin Luther’s 95 Theses inspire you to learn more about the radical document that changed the course of church history and still impacts people today. You’ll finally understand what Luther’s words mean and how you can apply them to your life.

Get this accessible guide to the 95 Theses and start your journey to a new understanding of Martin Luther’s most important work.

Read more about Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation in Peter DeHaan’s book Martin Luther’s 95 Theses: Celebrating the Protestant Reformation in the 21st Century. Buy it today to discover more about Martin Luther and his history-changing 95 theses.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Peter DeHaan News

Martin Luther and His 95 Theses

95 Theses Reveals Our Past So We Can Reform Our Present

Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther’s supporters printed copies of his 95 theses and distributed them widely. The document essentially went viral. Had Martin Luther lived today, his supporters might have taken to social media to get the word out. In doing so, 95 theses might have become 95 tweets.

Celebrate the five-hundred-year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, when Martin Luther nailed his list of ninety-five concerns to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517.

Most Protestants Have Heard of Martin Luther, but They Know Little More

Discover what Luther said in his history-changing document that people talk about but have never read.

  • Learn what Luther’s ninety-five theses meant 500 years ago.
  • Understand the significance behind his work.
  • Explore how the ninety-five theses apply to us today.
  • Consider reformation as an ongoing effort.
  • Reassess your spiritual practices.

Martin Luther’s 95 Theses explains the meaning behind each of Luther’s ninety-five concerns. Then it updates the basic premise of each one, for today’s audience. 95 Theses concludes with a present-day list of ninety-five items for the modern church to consider.

The intent is not to criticize her but to encourage ongoing reforms.

Read more about Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation in Peter DeHaan’s book Martin Luther’s 95 Theses: Celebrating the Protestant Reformation in the 21st Century. Buy it today to discover more about Martin Luther and his history-changing 95 theses.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Christian Living

Did Jesus Lead a Spiritual Rebellion?

Jesus Sparked a Religious Revolution That We Must Continue to Pursue Today

As Jesus’s mission on earth winds down he celebrates Passover with his disciples and goes to the Mount of Olives to pray. Then a mob comes to capture him. Jesus asks them, “Am I leading a rebellion that you must send an armed force to arrest me?” (See Luke 22:52.)

Not a Revolt Against a Government

The obvious answer is “no.” Jesus is not leading an uprising against his people or an insurrection to fight their Roman overlords. Though we do see Jesus’s zeal when he makes a whip and drives the merchants from the temple, he doesn’t advocate a physical revolution.

During his ministry Jesus models acceptance and love. We see him as a strong but gentle man of peace, not a militant leader to overthrow an oppressive rule.

A Spiritual Rebellion Against Religiosity

But let’s look at this from a spiritual sense. Isn’t Jesus leading a spiritual rebellion? Though he doesn’t advocate doing away with Judaism, he does come to fulfill what the Old Testament promises and anticipates. He promotes a new way of pursuing God, a relationship instead of rules.

This is a spiritual departure from what his people practiced for centuries. In its place he teaches them a new way of embracing God. In this sense, Jesus leads a rebellion, a spiritual revolution.

The Reformation

Five hundred years ago another spiritual rebellion took place. We politely call this the Reformation. In this spiritual revolution, people begin to seek God as the Bible reveals, pushing aside centuries of misguided practices that religiously enslaved people instead of freeing them.

A Spiritual Rebellion Today

But what about now? Too many of our religious practices have diverged from what the Bible teaches and what God intends. Are we in need of another spiritual rebellion? The answer is “yes.” We need another Reformation.

But let’s not be militant or divisive in our reforms. Let’s be inclusive, loving, and accepting. Let’s point to a fresh way of worshiping God in spirit and truth, of setting aside religious practices to embrace a truly biblical pursuit of Father God as taught by Jesus and guided by the Holy Spirit.

Let’s point to a fresh way of worshiping God in spirit and truth. Click To Tweet

Moving Forward

This isn’t to condemn today’s practices as wrong, but to have the audacity to claim that there’s a better way. This is a spiritual rebellion worth following.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Christian Living

Jesus Comes to Lead a Spiritual Rebellion

The First Reformation Happened 2000 Years Ago

As the time for Jesus’s sacrificial death approaches, his enemies come to arrest him. They’re armed. This might be as a show of force or maybe because they expect trouble. I imagine Jesus smiling a bit at this weapon-wielding mob. “Do you think I’m leading a rebellion?” he asks (Luke 22:52).

For sure they view him as a troublemaker. They see his teaching as a threat to their way of life and their tenuous position in the Roman empire. Yes, they may think he is leading a rebellion.

However, Jesus isn’t leading a physical rebellion. But in a spiritual sense he is ushering in a spiritual rebellion, a great reformation.

Jesus Reforms Religion

Jesus comes to fulfill the Old Testament Law. This means a change in perspective and practice from what was to something new. Instead of following a bunch of rules — some that came from God and a whole lot that men made up—Jesus turns their religion into a relationship with God.

No longer do we need to act a certain way to become right with God. Gone is a requirement that we must earn our right standing with God. He gives it to us freely. We only need to accept it. Personal change occurs after we’re in a right relationship with him.

No longer is good behavior a prerequisite. (Check out Ephesians 2:8-9).

Jesus Reforms Our Connection with God

Two views of our understanding of God occur in the Bible. One is to fear him, and the other is to love him. Though both perspectives occur throughout the Bible, we see the Old Testament as more fear-based and the New Testament is more love based.

Yes, we must still fear God and love him, but Jesus reforms our perspective and we can now focus on God’s love for us and our love for him. Because he first loved us, we can now love him. (Check out 1 John 4:19.)

Jesus Reforms Our View of Others

The Old Testament Law resulted in societal isolation. On the national level, God wanted his people to segregate themselves from other nations. He feared the practices of other countries would negatively influence his own people. He was right.

On a individual level, God wanted his people to separate themselves from those who were unclean, those who didn’t conform to his high standards. This showed them there are people to associate with and not to associate with, but they went overboard with it.

They ended up judging everyone in looking down on those who they felt didn’t measure up to God’s (and their) standards.

Jesus turned this thinking on its head. He reformed how we should view others. Jesus loved the people on the fringes of society, and so should we. Instead of judging others, Jesus showed grace and mercy, and so should we.

The only people Jesus confronted were the religious elite who made a mess of the rules that God originally gave to Moses. We too should confront religious leaders who pervert our relationship of God and what the Bible teaches about it.

We can reform the religious status quo and embark on a fresh new way of understanding God and our relationship to him. Click To Tweet

Jesus’s Reforms Are a Spiritual Rebellion against the Religious Status Quo

In a spiritual sense, Jesus is leading a rebellion. And he invites us to join him in that. Together we can reform the religious status quo and embark on a fresh new way of understanding God and our relationship to him.

It’s time for another spiritual reformation.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Christian Living

What is Post-Denominational?

Dividing the church by forming denominations isn’t biblical, and it’s time to move past it

Jesus prayed for our unity, that we would be one—just as he and his father are one. He yearned that his followers would get along and live in harmony. Dividing into religious sects wasn’t his plan. Yet that’s exactly what we’ve done as we formed 42,000 Protestant denominations.

Instead of focusing on our similarities, our common faith in Jesus, these denominations choose to make a big deal over the few things they disagree about.

They should get along, but instead they develop their own narrow theology, which they use as a litmus test to see who they’ll accept and who they’ll reject.

How this must grieve Jesus.

While there has been some disagreement among the followers of Jesus almost from the beginning, the divisions started proliferating 500 years ago with the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. And since that time, it’s escalated out of control, with a reported 42,000 denominations today.

This represents the most significant degree of Christian disunity ever.

The push for denominational division traces its beginning to the modern era. While the modern era assumed that reason would allow us to converge on a singular understanding of truth, the opposite occurred. Instead, the pursuit of logic resulted in wide-scale disagreement.

This is perhaps most manifest among the followers of Jesus, who love to argue over their individual understandings of theology.

Yet there’s a sense we’re moving away from denominations and the divisions they cause. The word to describe this is post-denominational.

Just as we are moving from the modern era to the postmodern era, we are also moving from a time of denominational division to a time of post-denomination harmony.

In understanding postmodern, we don’t consider it as anti-modern but instead “beyond modern.” The same distinction rightly applies to post-denominational. Post-denominational is not anti-denomination, as much as it is “beyond denominations.”

So, what is post-denominational? Post-denominational moves beyond the Protestant divisions that proliferated in the last 500 years, during the modern era.

Post-denominational sets aside the man-made religious sects that divide the church of Jesus. In its place, post-denominational advocates a basic theology to form agreement and foster harmony. This allows the followers of Jesus to live together in unity, which will amplify their impact on the world around them.

The people who follow Jesus are beginning to realize this. Many new churches label themselves as non-denominational. This reflects a general mistrust among today’s people for the brand-name Protestantism of yesteryear, that is, denominations.

People are weary of the criticism, finger-pointing, and disunity that denominations have caused. Click To Tweet

They’re weary of the criticism, the finger-pointing, and the disunity that denominations have caused. That’s why the label of non-denominational is so attractive to many people.

This includes those who go to church, those who dropped out, and those who have never been. They don’t want to align themselves with a denomination anymore. They want a spiritual experience in a loving Christian community, one without denominational division.

For the sake of Jesus and our witness of him to our world, can we set our denominations aside and agree to work together to move forward in unity?

It’s a lot to ask, and it seems humanly impossible. But Jesus already prayed for our success (see John 17:20-26.)

May this generation be the answer to his prayer. May we be one.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Christian Living

Why Do We Listen to a Sunday Sermon at Church Each Week?

The Bible offers little support for a minister to preach a sermon to us at church

Many changes occurred in church practices because of the Protestant Reformation some 500 years ago. One of those changes adjusted the emphasis of the Sunday service.

The reformers had concern over the focus of Sunday gatherings being on the altar and the celebration of the Eucharist. They intentionally shifted the focus away from that and to the sermon. I understand why they did it, but I think they were wrong.

When Jesus said, “do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19, NIV), he provided the basis for us to celebrate communion. This gives biblical support for us to periodically observe the Lord’s Supper as part of our gatherings, be it on Sundays or at other times.

However, I don’t see any biblical command to have a paid minister preach a sermon to a local congregation each Sunday. In fact, I see little biblical support for this. Here’s what I do see in the Bible:

Preach to Those Outside the Church

Jesus told his followers to go around and tell others about him. He said to “preach the Gospel” (Mark 16:15, NIV). Here’s a direct command from Jesus to preach, but the setting isn’t inside the church walls, it’s outside the confines of the church, in the real world.

Although this gives a command to preach, we miss the point. The teaching Jesus talks about isn’t to those who are already on his team, it’s to those who aren’t.

Teach New Converts

In Acts we see the apostles holding regular classes to teach about what it means to follow Jesus (Acts 2:42). Since back then almost everyone was new to the faith, think of this as a new members class. Note that this is an example of what the church did, not a command to do it.

This teaching is optional, but if we do it the focus is likely on new converts.

Give Updates

Another example in the New Testament of people speaking to local congregations is when traveling missionaries or church delegations visited local churches. They spoke to the people to update them on what was happening elsewhere and to share stories of God at work.

The purpose of these talks seems to be to offer status reports and provide encouragement. Again we see this as an example of what the early church did, but there’s no command for us to do likewise.

In these three scenarios we see people speaking either in the church or outside it. But nowhere do we see a command for clergy to preach to a local congregation in church each Sunday. So why, then, do we have a weekly sermon?

The people in the church should minister to one another, not have paid clergy preach them a sermon. Click To Tweet

What should we do differently?

Paul answers this in his letter to the church in Corinth. He says when we gather together each person should be ready to share a song, teaching, revelation, tongue, or interpretation. The purpose of this is to build up the church (1 Corinthians 14:26).

Paul’s instruction, his command, is that the people in the church should minister to one another, not have paid clergy preach them a sermon. With such little biblical support to have a professional minister deliver a sermon on Sunday mornings, maybe it’s time for us to abandon the practice.

Instead let us begin ministering to one another as the Bible instructs.

Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.