October 31st is the day Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of the castle church at Wittenburg. Tim Challies suggested that bloggers today commemorate that memorable moment. Certainly it would be more edifying than celebrating Halloween with its witches, ghosts, and blood sugar spikes.
My celebration of Reformation Day is not a look back in history, but rather a celebration of a growing reformation taking place in this generation. Just as Martin Luther wanted the people of his day to be committed to the Scriptures, there are many like him today who are calling for an end to the watered-down, culture-mimicking, Bible-ignoring evangelical Christianity of recent years. This week, TIME magazine published a piece noting this trend among youth ministries and titled it, "In Touch with Jesus: Sugarcoated, MTV-style youth ministry is so over. Bible-based worship is packing teens in pews now." That would certainly be the case in my church, which was briefly cited in this piece: "Similarly, teens at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Md., are embracing the big doses of Bible study youth pastors now recommend. Teen ranks have tripled, to nearly 600, since the mid-1990s."
Several weeks ago, Christianity Today also published a cover story titled "Young, Restless, and Reformed," a piece that examined the growing numbers of young adults embracing Reformed theology. The article's author noted that young adults want meat, not milk.
The young people I talked to want churches to risk disagreement so they can benefit from the deeper challenges of doctrine. Joshua Harris said years after he graduated from high school, he bumped into his old youth pastor in the grocery store. The pastor seemed apologetic as they reminisced about the youth group's party atmosphere, focused more on music and skits than Bible teaching, Harris said. But the youth pastor told Harris his students now read through Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology.
"I think there's an expectation that teens can't handle that, or they'll be repulsed by that," Harris told me. "[My youth pastor] is saying the exact opposite. That's a dramatic change in philosophy in youth ministry."
Pastor Kent Hughes senses the same draw for students who cross the street from Wheaton College to attend College Church. "If there's an appeal to students, it's that we're not playing around," Hughes said. "We're not entertaining them. This is life and death. My sense is that's what they're interested in, even from an old man."
This reformation--this embrace of solid doctrine, rich truths, and God-exalting teaching--may not affect our world in quite the way Martin Luther's Reformation did. Or perhaps it will, by the grace of God...which is my prayer today.