What Made the Protestant Reformation Work?
The Power of Collaboration
How did it happen that 50% of the churches in Europe became Protestant during the Reformation in the short span of 40 years? It’s an interesting question for anyone interested in reformation today.
Of course, reformation was God’s will. Humanly speaking, it was interaction between leaders throughout the European continent that fueled the Reformation. Among the most notable were Erasmus of Brussels; Luther and Melanchthon in Germany; Bucer in Strasburg; Calvin and Beza in Geneva; and Zwingli, Bullinger, and Martyr in Zurich.
While each ministered in his own vineyard, the Reformers read each other, wrote each other, visited each other, attended conferences together, challenged each other, held each other accountable, and corrected each other.
Luther and Zwingli idolized Erasmus, the Prince of the Humanists. Luther was reading Erasmus. Erasmus praised Luther. Melanchthon systematized Luther. Bucer was a monk who heard Luther and reformed Strasburg. Bucer mentored Calvin (and also found Calvin a wife), then Calvin reformed Geneva. Beza systematized Calvin and ran Calvin’s Geneva Academy. Zwingli’s hero was Erasmus. Zwingli and Luther read each other. Calvin wrote Zwingli about his extreme views. Calvin met with Bullinger.
Collaboration was central to their success. As a result, these leaders did together what none of them could have done on their own. Anthropologist Margaret Mead reportedly said, “Never doubt the power of a small group to change the world. That’s about the only way it has ever happened.”
Want reformation today? Collaboration may be central to your success. Get up to 30,000 feet and see what’s going on. Collaborate with other ministry leaders in your church. Extend your boundaries to learn what others are doing elsewhere. Attend a ministry conference. Write someone and ask them a question. We can do more together than alone.
For the glory of Christ and no other reason,