Philipp Jakob Spener
German theologian Philipp Jakob Spener is regarded as the father of the Pietist Movement during the 17th century. As chronicled by Christianity Today, Spener was a Lutheran pastor who sought to strengthen the Church through spiritual disciplines and who emphasized training the younger generation. During his time, Spener established groups called collegia pietatis that influenced Europe and beyond. Today, our model of Lifegroups are still influenced by Spener’s collegia pietatis.
Spener believed the Word of God was the power that fueled individual faith and Church reformation. Out of a desire to see his congregation grow in biblical knowledge, Spener began gathering with a group of 15 – 20 others to study Scripture and devotional pieces. The groups grew from 20 to 50, then 100, as men, women, rich, poor and even non-Lutherans met together.
Ultimately, as Spener recounted, these groups were birthed out of a desire of believers who “longed to have some opportunity when godly-minded people could come together and confer with each other in simplicity and love.”