For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
A few years ago I was teaching the high school youth on Reformation Sunday and thought it might be interesting to see what they actually knew about it and about Martin Luther. I was amazed at what they didn't know or how much they assumed incorrectly. First, I read a carefully worded description of the state of society and the church and asked them if it sounded like today or in the 16th century. Then, since Martin is quite funny sometimes and the language of the time can be a little difficult to understand, we had a little fun with some of his quotes. I had them do a round robin, randomly pick one out of a bucket, and tell me what each one meant and/or what they thought of it. As time got short they kept saying, "Do one more!" While knowing the history and talking about things Martin Luther said are not necessary information, it sure doesn't hurt for people to be reminded of it once in a while in a fun way.
A Crocktoberfest is a potluck where people bring a crock pot meal to share in the tradition of the German festival of Oktoberfest, which would mean people should feel free to celebrate the German heritage gastronomically. Traditional German food includes das wiener schnitzel (crumbled veal fillet), sauerbraten (beef) and red cabbage, bratwurst (sausages), schweinebraten (pork roast), käse-spätzle (pasta), goulasch (hot dish), huhnerfrikassee (chicken frickasee), kartoffelknödeln (potato pumplings), apfelpfannkuchen (apple pancakes), apfelstrudel (apple strudel), or any kind of kuchen (cake). Recipes are all over the internet.
The Martin Luther Games
I have a tendency to try to make things educational/informational and not just fun all the time so I would choose traditional German games for the kids and Reformation informational games for the adults. I like things to be fun but am not a big fan of a "throw the indulgences in the trash relay" which is nothing different from any other relay the kids participate in at any other event but has a reformation sounding name.
Traditional German games for the kids:
- Topfschlagen (Hit the Pot) - a prize is hidden in a metal pot and a child is blindfolded and given a wooden spoon. S/he then crawls around the floor trying to hit the pot to win the prize.
- Schokoladenessen (Chocolate Eating) - a chocolate bar, wrapped in many layers of newspaper and tied with a ribbon as if it's a present, is place in the middle of a table with a single die, scarf, hat, mittens, a fork, and a butter knife. The kids roll the die and when a six is rolled that person puts on the clothes and tries to unwrap and eat the chocolate with the utensils. While s/he is trying, the die continues to be rolled and if another child rolls a six they get to take over. The game is over when all the chocolate is gone.
- Katz und Maus (Cat and Mouse) - is usually played outside or in a large room with larger groups. The kids form a circle holding hands and the cat chases the mouse around, in, and out of the circle as the kids raise and lower their arms to let the mouse in and keep the cat out.
- Pin the 95 Theses - is just like pin the tail on the donkey except that kids are pinning the 95 theses on a door. Sadly, not a German game but fun for the wee ones.
Reformation/information games for the adults:
- Scrambled Society - you can take the story of society and the church I used with the youth, break it into sections, give each group 2 paddles (paper plate with a stick handle - one says 1500's the other says today), read each section, and have them hold up the paddle of which description fits each time period. The trick is that the description is frighteningly similar to how we could describe society and the church today. Eeerily similar...
- Reformation Jeopardy - use this online Jeopardy template to create your own reformation game. It's not a powerpoint and is really easy to use. Play with it and see how it works. There may be other areas you'll want to use it too. There are tons of places online to get reformation questions or a pastor would be far better at creating them than I would so I won't even try here.
- Here I Stand! - Is he a heretic or not? Most people think Luther's big problem with the church was the sale of indulgences but we should know it was bigger than that. The goal of this activity is to have people learn a bit more about Luther, things he wrote or said against the church, and then decide if he was a heretic. If there are a lot of people, break them into groups. If you started by playing Scrambled Society, you're ready to go, if not, briefly share that information. Have a packet of evidence that includes a brief history of the Catholic church in the 1500's and what they believed at the time. Give people a few minutes to go through it. When they're ready, the "host" (probably the pastor) reads a quote from Luther or something he's written, including the 95 theses and the group must decide if his comment is heretical, Biblical, or neither. (Make sure a few quotes cover each.)
- Movies - there a lot of good movies about Luther out now. Check them out!