Lutherans take their name from Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk and theologian in 16th century Germany. Luther believed that the church was ignoring or contradicting important teachings of Christ, and that it had become corrupt as an institution.
Because his convictions were deeply felt, in 1517 he published 95 theses for discussion and debate within the church. His aim was to reform the church so that Christ Jesus’ gospel was restored to the central position in the church's life and teaching. Luther did not want to leave the church, but the church's leadership regarded his views as disturbing and dangerous.
In 1520 he was excommunicated, but he continued to proclaim his views in his preaching, teaching and writing. The Lutheran Church was the first church to grow out of the Reformation movement – the very beginning of the Protestant church. The Reformation was kindled by Luther's 95 theses and rapidly spread throughout the world. The Lutheran Church continues to be one of the largest churches in the world, now comprising some 60-70 million members in all regions of the world.