The Reformation was a movement centered on correcting the beliefs and practices of the church 500 years ago. In this post we will consider that the Reformation is far from just history—the values of the Reformers should be the same values we place in our kids ministries.
On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther, a professor of theology at the University of Wittenberg in northeast Germany, nailed what has become known as the 95 Theses on the city’s church door. This action is widely accepted as the starting point of what has become known as the Protestant Reformation—a movement desiring to course correct the church’s theology and practice. While Luther gets the credit for beginning the Reformation (whether right or wrong), he was far from the only leader of this diverse movement. But one thing that united these Reformers was a shared goal summed up in a five-fold slogan known as the Five Solas (Latin for “alone”).
Five hundred years later, these Five Solas which the Reformers fought and even died for should continue to unite God’s people together and should be hallmarks of our kids ministries. Here are a few tips on how to do that:
Scripture Alone (Sola Scriptura). This Sola addresses the Bible as our highest authority in belief and practice. Of all the Solas, this one might be the easiest to see our ministries as fulfilling, but we shouldn’t be so quick to check it off and move on. The issue is not whether we use the Bible, but how we value it too. Just because a curriculum, for example, includes the Bible doesn’t mean all that it teaches comes from the Bible. Sometimes, the Bible is merely a springboard. As kids ministry leaders, we want to be diligent to scrutinize all that is taught by our leaders to ensure that all matters of belief and practice come directly from the Bible. We also want to look for other ways to elevate God’s Word. Do our leaders read from the Bible or the curriculum’s leader guide? Do we help train kids on how to read the Bible? Do we encourage them to bring their Bible with them?
Faith Alone (Sola Fide). This Sola affirms that we are saved by faith in Christ alone. Like Scripture Alone, this Sola might seem like a gimme but once again, we shouldn’t be so quick to move on. Sure we teach that salvation is only through Jesus, but do we make Jesus the hero of all we do? Not a week should go by where Jesus is not clearly taught in our Bible study time, especially when it comes to application. It is easy to lapse into biblical moralism and teach behavior apart from Jesus, but we need to protect against this strenuously. We want our kids to know that being right with God is based on faith in Jesus alone—not our conduct. Right conduct flows from right relationship, not the other way around.
Grace Alone (Sola Gratia). This Sola asserts that we are saved by the grace of God alone. What a cause for celebration! And humility. We are not saved because we deserved it. We are not saved because we earned it. We are saved because of the kindness and goodness of God. And the same grace that initiated our salvation preserves it. This is why we cannot stop talking about God’s grace even once a child is saved. We need to help our kids live in trust and peace knowing that their salvation, from start to finish, is secure because of God’s grace.
Christ Alone (Solus Christus). This Sola positions only Jesus as our Lord, Savior, and King. There are many other things that challenge for this role in the lives of our kids—even some good things. But what we want to do is to help our kids understand, and love, the truth that Jesus is our Lord, Savior, and King. He is in charge. And that is a beautiful thing. Help your kids not only accept, but appreciate, what it looks like to live in submission to Jesus.
The Glory of God Alone (Soli Deo Gloria). This Sola reminds us that all we do is to be done for the glory of God ultimately. One of the greatest needs of people—including our kids—is to know their purpose in life. What is it all about? Why do we exist? One of the greatest gifts you can give to the kids in your ministry is to help them understand that their purpose is to bring God glory. And that is something they can do right now—they don’t have to wait. Help your kids understand that God created them to make much of Him and how they can do that in their neighborhoods, schools, homes, and beyond.
Brian Dembowczyk served in the local church ministry for over 16 years. Brian earned an M.Div. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a D.Min. from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his family live in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.