“…we shall be asked how faithfully and with how childlike a heart we sought to further the kingdom of God; with how pure and godly a teaching and how worthy an example we tried to edify our hearers amid the scorn of the world…”
— Philipp Jakob Spener, Pia Desideria
With these words a renewal movement within the Lutheran reformation began. The perceived problems back in the mid-to-late 1600s: Lutheran worship had become too much “head” and not enough “heart”; sermons focused too much on eloquence, flawless arguments, or theological nitpicking; and a lack of Biblical morality (that is, both clergy and laity not living what was being taught).
Sound like any churches we know these days?
Spener’s answer was a renewal program that became known as Pietism. The main ideas can basically summarized in six points:
Use the Word of God. The Bible must be the beginning of all reformation.
The priesthood of believers — all Christians need to be active in some form of ministry.
Christianity must be not just known but practiced.
Love and pray for those who do not yet believe and for those who have fallen into false beliefs; tone down argumentative attitudes.
Clergy need to be trained not only in academics but also in piety and devotion — that is, to read scripture and pray in their daily lives.
Ministers should preach sermons that are understandable and encouraging to the laity, not academic discourses few can understand.
Just think — if the today’s churches rediscovered and implemented these six steps, what might happen?