Four Renegade Lessons from Two Years of Reformation Travel – Part 1

Here I Stand Monument

Selfie with the Martin Luther “Here I Stand” statue in Worms, Germany on August 13, 2014

I’ve been fortunate over the last two years to travel in the footsteps of some of the pre-eminent 16th century Protestant reformers. My travels took me throughout Germany, following in the footsteps of Martin Luther (1483 – 1546); through Switzerland, learning about Swiss reformers like Ulrich Zwingli (1484 – 1531) and John Calvin (1509 – 1564); and in the UK, following in the footsteps of English reformers like Hugh Latimer (1487 – 1555).

It’s allowed me to not only read about church history, but also to see it, touch it and breathe it first-hand as a kind of immersive learning experience. Because I realized the blessing of what I was going to do, I put a lot of pressure on myself before I left to prepare and read everything I could about those reformers.

Over a two-year period it was almost like I got a Ph.D. in Reformation History!

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I’d like to share with you Four Renegade Lessons from the Reformers… 


Martin Luther statue

Martin Luther and the 95 Theses statue in Wittenberg, Germany

1. Eternity hangs in the balance with what we do or don’t do as ministers. (Martin Luther) 

Martin Luther reminds us that what we preach, who we reach and what we do as pastors makes a difference for eternity. Luther nailed the 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517, sparking the Protestant Reformation, because of an upheaval in his soul about the eternity of those in his church. People were being deceived about corruption in the church.

Luther refused to keep silent, was eventually excommunicated from the Catholic Church, and was later declared an outlaw and a heretic.

He made the choice to stand because what he did mattered for eternity. When we stand to give our Sunday sermons, when we lead our church and build healthy systems, when we welcome guests and challenge people to take next steps…it matters for eternity.


Martyrs Memorial Oxford

The Martyrs’ Memorial in Oxford, England

2. Stand up for what we believe, no matter what the costs. (The Martyrs’ Memorial) 

The Martyrs’ Memorial in Oxford, England commemorates the 16th-century “Oxford Martyrs,” Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, who, as the inscription reads, “yielded their bodies to be burned, bearing witness to the sacred truths which they had affirmed and maintained against the errors of the Church of Rome, and rejoicing that to them it was given not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for His sake.”

They gave their life for five “Solas,” the five key doctrines of the Reformation (the foundation of who we are):

  1. Sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”): The Bible alone is our highest authority.
  2. Sola Fide (“faith alone”): We are saved through faith alone in Jesus Christ.
  3. Sola Gratia (“grace alone”): We are saved by the grace of God alone.
  4. Solus Christus (“Christ alone”): Jesus Christ alone is our Lord, Savior, and King.
  5. Soli Deo Gloria (“to the glory of God alone”): We live for the glory of God alone.

Are WE willing to stand up for what we believe, no matter the cost?


Check back tomorrow for Part 2 – the other two lessons from Two Years of Reformation Travel!

Your partner in ministry,


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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church planter, coach and church growth strategist, working with churches in over 45 denominations. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in San Francisco and Boca Raton, FL. He first developed the Assimilation System 10 years ago at the Journey Church and has since implemented and improved these strategies with over 3,000 churches across all sizes and denominations. He started coaching pastors in 2006 and has personally coached over 2100+ senior pastors, helping them break common growth barriers like 125, 250, 500, 1000 and beyond, all while maintaining personal life and ministry balance. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has trained more than 50,000 church leaders (3,000+ church planters). He is the author of over 85 church growth resources and 17+ books, including Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests Into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church and The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life and Ministry. His continued mission is to help church leaders around the world cooperate with God in creating healthy, thriving churches. Nelson is married to Kelley and together they have one son, Alexander.

Nelson SearcyEvangelism, Ministry

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