The Last Reformation has certainly been the subject of many articles, videos and, as I do, critics. As a bit of history, this movement was founded in 2011 by a man, Torben Sondergaard, of Danish origin, convinced that we are in the end times and that the life of the Christian as described in the Gospels is still actual and alive[1]. The typical life of the disciple includes among others, miracles, healings, chasing evil spirits and demons, preaching the gospel, and the baptism of water as the starting point of salvation (what about grace and saving faith?). If, on the face of it, there is nothing to blame for the initiative or the fruits that the movement can bear, the things experienced there[2] can leave a bitter taste to some tepid Christians, some poor Christian lambdas in search of more life and some people who want to discover the meaning of their lives.

You can find a multitude of videos and testimonials, as well as very successful films, on the official website of the movement and on YouTube[3]. These videos are for generally an exemplary advocacy of the movement. There is no detail left to chance – emotional staging and grandiose music, close-ups on the healed people (with a special attention for the miracles and the legs that grow back), testimonials before / after the contact with the disciple, guided tours in the streets camera in hand etc. I was already be skeptical about some aspects in these videos, but it is clear anyway that what we are shown are selected – and possibly embellished – pieces for the needs of the cause. Far from doubting of the authenticity and veracity of certain deliveries and healings, I am nevertheless much more doubtful when it comes to the systemization of this new « kickstart » fashion, as rendered on a large majority of the videos proposed; and I may question without hesitation the filming strategies of what is going on there. Anyone can almost readily assimilate it to a reality show which reality is “too good to be true.” Again, this is not the movement that I attack but only the use of videos.

Aalborg : Young people studying their Bible in the main room of the Jesus Hotel (picture : Gilles Bouvier)

Let’s get back to the concept – or “trademark” – of “kickstart.” A “Kickstart” is the entire practice of training a ready-to-serve disciple. The « kickstarted » person is given a powerful teaching about the Gospel and receives as well the Holy Spirit, if necessary. The person is then equipped with a variety of communication methods to make him/her a good salesperson. Once these processes are acquired and repeated, the person is sent with others in small groups to the streets to heal, cast out demons and evangelize. And then, the disciple can in turn kickstart other people. First problem: what if it does not work like videos? In addition to the credibility of the movement that takes a hit, the freshly kickstarted disciple will start to doubt, to say the least. Moreover, the people approached by the disciple, in quest for healing, will have to turn back and go in the very same condition. Now, how about the testimony? One could of course ask the question of the acting Holy Spirit. Nothing resists the Holy Spirit and the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. The whole thing is to really have received it and to be absolutely certain about it. On the other hand, « chasing down » the sinner in the streets in any context is not given to everyone.

This is where I would like to go back to the concept of systematization, which is yet in opposition of what Torben says. The movement has come up with a “miracle” recipe which consists of assembling perfect little disciples with the same attributes without taking into account that everyone is different and that there can be a variety of gifts and an abundance of spiritual skills. Clearly, not everyone is called to go out in the streets, just as not everyone is forced – unfortunately – to speak in tongues at the very moment of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. For example, Torben’s wife is more devoted to a « home » ministry than to serial kickstarting. The lambda kickstarter actually supports a pressure so to follow a mold at any cost, and forces himself/herself not to disappoint his/her TLR trainers. It is not surprising that, in the end, a fresh kickstarter, even very sincere, will find himself/herself in the complex situation where he is confronted with a seriously ill person (Parkinson’s disease for instance) and will end up completely disarmed after a lot of unsuccessful prayers and impositions of ineffective hands.

Once their « training[4] » is over, these fresh brothers and sisters in faith are being separated from the communion in which they have lived their first experience of discipleship of Christ in order to return home, full of fervor. The second problem is that, once at home, the kickstarters are left to their own devices and have almost no one to relate to. How about fraternal communion? How to discern the good from the evil when you are a fresh believer? Where to find people who believe and practice the same lessons taught at the Last Reformation? There is of course a world map on the official website of the Last Reformation showing where the confirmed (and unconfirmed) disciples can be found[5]. This map is a very good deal for the people eager for contacts in their own area. But it also carries many risks. The map may not be actual or accurate; contacts may appear but their contact information are not valid. Another recurring problem; some will use the map for their own purposes which may have no connection to The Last Reformation or to Christianity whatsoever. Warning: impostors! And how about the isolated kickstarters who unfortunately are living in remote areas? How to maintain a regular contact, grow and strengthen together? Many recently kickstarted going back home are complaining about the lack of contact, fellowship and so on. Finding a nearby church is another risk to run when you know the condition of nowadays churches. And returning to kickstart seminars is an option that ends up being expensive and artificial.

This note will finish with a very personal feeling about the story of close relatives. The Last Reformation uses physical healing as the « gateway » to evangelism. But people attending the kickstart seminars at the Jesus Hotel also receive healing if they ask for it. In order to make examples, allow kickstarters to practice and other people to witness, a handful of sick people with all kinds of diseases and troubles can ask to be healed, whether it is a cold, a backache, or Parkinson’s disease, as Mark ch.16 says « they will lay hands on the sick, and the sick will be healed » without distinction. Three times (at least), two of my relatives received prayers with hands laid on them and speaking in tongues. Each time the result was negative. And each time the guilt gets added to the illness. Guilt for not having enough faith, not being worthy of healing, having an illness that is too serious or too advanced, not being able to satisfy the prayer of one or more disciples who have come to the bedside of the person in need. Then comes the sadness and disappointment of having to go back home still sick, with no improvement, despite all the beautiful promises of healing yet encouraging depicted in the videos. How are you supposed to go kickstart on the streets when you are still sick yourself? Wasn’t Jesus healing ALL the sick people He met? Has the Holy Spirit changed over the centuries?

And you, what do YOU think?

[1] http://www.ladernierereforme.fr/presentation/last-reformation/

[2] By « there » I mean at the Jesus Hotel on Aalborg, Denmark, aka the headquarters of The Last Reformation.

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1est65LcdI and https://thelastreformation.com/ . Especially the official YouTube channel of The Last Reformation https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJXcYb9zYJ8_QA3Bcg5Fe2g

[4] Kickstart weekends and 3-week PTS (Pioneer Training School). https://thelastreformation.com/events/

[5] https://map.thelastreformation.com/

Et vous, qu'en pensez-vous ?