- Why do we gather for worship every Sunday?
- I feel closer to God in nature than in a pew; do I really need to go to church?
- What is the point of repeating the same old songs week after week?
- Shouldn’t we be more focused on reaching the lost?
- I’ve been going to church my whole life and I don’t know why.
R2W describes the purpose of the conference this way:
What is the point of going to Church? Can’t I praise and thank God from anywhere – like in the comfort of my own home? I already believe in God. I’m basically a good person. Isn’t that enough?
R2W’s first annual conference will deal with these and other questions that Christian millennials struggle with by addressing the all-encompassing question posed by the Small Catechism: “What Does This Mean?”
We believe the answer to this question can be found in the Catechism’s Six Chief Parts – 1) the Ten Commandments, 2) the Creed, 3) the Lord’s Prayer, 4) Holy Baptism, 5) Confession, and 6) Holy Communion – which are the essence of the entire Christian faith. Our conference will use the Parts as an outline, around which all our worship, discussions, and presentations will be based.
Through the Six Chief Parts, we will discover that the meaning of all true Christian life and worship is found in Christ Jesus, the Incarnate God, and what He offers us through His Holy Spirit in the blessed Means of Grace.
Why does Return to Wittenberg exist? In their own words:
Many young people struggle to find authenticity in the chaos of the world today. The lines between real-life and online, true and false, moral and immoral have become increasingly blurred. While it should be a source of reprieve, pop-Christianity usually offers very little to aid in the search for something “real.” Churches have resorted to all manner of gimmicks and fads in a fleeting effort to attract young people to their pews. Embarrassing entertainment-based worship services abound. “Cool” youth pastors in jeans and graphic-Ts are all the rage. And congregations insist on dumbing down their traditional teachings to the basest form of spoiled spiritual milk in a self-defeating attempt to keep their kids “interested.” Even if these misguided efforts prove initially alluring, once the limited emotional highs offered by their ear-pleasing theology and practice subside, most people are left asking deeper, life-and-death questions.
500 years ago a monk from the little town of Wittenberg, Germany, was also left asking life-and-death questions by a church that had lost its authenticity. The church of his day invented new, gimmicky methods of “doing church” that were worlds apart from the Way of Christ and His Apostles. Under the pope in Rome, Christian worship became something people did for God rather than what God did for them. The focus of their worship was on man’s effort and action.
Unfortunately, this paradigm is not an isolated 16th-century or papal phenomenon. It is reflected by modern church-goers who believe that “going to church” and “worship” are all about what they have to do for God. It is also present in the attitudes and motivations of those who place the emphasis on man’s desire for entertainment and novelty. In both cases, the heart and soul of the Church’s worship life is lost. In order to find it again, we will return to Wittenberg and re-discover the authentic Christianity that German monk found those many centuries ago…
What is Return to Wittenberg’s purpose? Again, in their own words:
Return to Wittenberg (R2W) is an organization sponsored by pastors and laymen affiliated with congregations of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) and Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS). Our mission is to move beyond the theological fluff and gimmicks of the present age in an effort to promote, develop, and strengthen a Confessional understanding of the Lutheran faith in the millennial generation and beyond. We hope to do this by:
Ensuring proper catechesis from the whole counsel of God’s Word as plainly taught in the Lutheran Confessions
Examining what believers throughout the two millennia of the Church’s existence have taught about the Christian faith and its connection to Evangelical-Lutheran theology and tradition
Emphasizing the centrality of the Means of Grace in the life and work of the Church and her Divine Service
Explaining why we do what we do in the Divine Service through the Lutheran Liturgy
Exploring the ways the Means of Grace affect Christian vocations, to the benefit of family, Church, and state
The conference will present the Catechism as guide to:
- Preaching and hearing
- Christian prayer
- Sacramental life
- Private confession