The Reformation, began by Martin Luther on October 31 of 1517, is one of the most significant events in history. And, is a major event for the Christian church. How can you help your kids understand its importance? Whether this is your first time teaching or celebrating the day, or if you’re just looking for fresh ideas, this round up has Reformation Day ideas, printables, videos, and suggestions for kids of all ages.
Quick History Lesson for Kids on Reformation Day
Martin Luther, a Catholic monk, and other devout Christian leaders were concerned by the corruption by the leaders of the Catholic church. Here is a list of some of the problems they saw:
- The Bible was not available in the language of the people. It was printed only in Latin and the church services were also in Latin. This meant the priests could teach whatever they wanted and the people could not check if it was right in the Bible.
- People had to buy forgivness of sins (indulgences). So, the rich could buy their way into heaven while the poor were condemned.
- Priests paid money for their jobs so they were often sold to men wanting power. Because of this terrible practice, many priests did not know or care about true Christianity. So they told the people many different things based on their own opinions.
Because of these things, and many others, Martin Luther on October 31, 1517, nailed 95 thesis, explaining the corruption he saw in the church and why it was against God’s word, to the door of his local church. He also had them sent to the archbishop in protest.
He stood up strong and refused to denounce his beliefs through several trials and persecutions. In the end, Martin Luther was labeled an enemy of the Pope and the church, and was excommunicated (not allowed to be a leader or member of the church). He never wanted to separate from the Catholic Church or to create a new denomination; he wanted to reform the current Catholic Church.
The results were not all positive since it started a war between those who were Catholic and those who were not (called Protestants) within the church. But, there were some lasting changes that help grow Christianity:
- People were able to read the Bible in their own language and grow in wisdom and understanding from their own home.
- There was an emphasis on evangelism since the realization that you could not buy your way into heaven. Missionaries organizations began to grow.
- People realized that salvation is for everyone not just the rich. Presented as the five solas – salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to the Scriptures alone, to the glory of God alone.
Today, over 500 years later, the truths of the Bible that Luther stood up for continue to impact millions. The forgiveness that Luther found is available to the world then and now. We can all be in a right relationship with God because of the reconciliation offered through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Videos are a fun way to teach the history of Martin Luther, what happened, and how it impacts us today. The first couple are animated for younger children. The others are more for older children or teens.
- Stop motion animation that tells the story of Martin Luther: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tox2TflUH90
- Animated Short Film on the History of Martin Luther: https://youtu.be/FhGGjRjvq7w
- Documentary for Older Kids & Teens (and mom and dad): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qeRj_qfNM0
- Here I Stand, Full Movie on the Life and Legacy of Martin Luther
- Lecture to Understand 95 Thesis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJITsWCua1M
This is not an exhaustive list but these ideas help you build in some learning and fun all at the same time. Also, each idea offers something unique instead of repeat activities.
- Six Activity Ideas to Help Reinforce what happened on this historical day: https://blog.cph.org/teach/six-activities-to-teach-kids-about-the-reformation
- Have a Reformation Day party instead of Halloween Party. They can still dress up and learn something new: https://blog.cph.org/teach/six-activities-to-teach-kids-about-the-reformation
- Suggested books, audio books, movies etc: https://www.thispilgrimlife.com/protestant-reformation-kids/
Free Printables for the Reformation Day for Kids
There are a lot of printables for Reformation Day out there but not all are free of charge. These are free and easily accessible.
- Thesis printables and read-a-louds:https://www.intoxicatedonlife.com/reformation-day-party-ideas/
- This is a huge list of free printables for Reformation Day for kids: https://www.thispilgrimlife.com/protestant-reformation-kids/
- For learning, printable quiz and other lesson materials: https://www.flandersfamily.info/web/2017/10/28/more-reformation-day-resources/
Importance of Teaching Your Kids These Truths
Obviously, the most important truths that we can teach our children are straight from the word of God. However, I think that having an accurate view of history and it has shaped our modern culture and church is necessary for them knowing the importance of knowing the Bible and having a biblical worldview.
Teaching our children about persecution for our faith and brave men and women who stood up for the faith is inspiring and sobering. We help them understand the cost of following Christ but also the great reward to sticking to our convictions.
I hope you have enjoyed a little history lesson and some free resources on Martin Luther and the Reformation. There is so much more out there that I would encourage you and your children to keep researching and keep learning.