Repentance and forming a personal relationship with Christ were key parts of Protestant though in the early-sixteenth century. The world of the early-sixteenth century was quite unstable with periodic wars between early nation-states and occasional outbreaks of plague. The Vatican was scrutinized by both secular and religious leaders who thought that the Church was out of touch with the will of God. People were aware of the Church not following its own policies of celibacy in the priesthood and against greed as the Church continued to take more money for its own benefit while the people around it were poor.
In addition to criticisms against the Church and general instability in society, the printing press soon made it possible for people outside of the Church to read the New Testament on their own. Not only did this help to popularize languages such as English and French, it also led to people taking more responsibility for the health of their own souls. People knew that life was fragile and that their best hope for a good afterlife was a relationship with God.
This led to people seeking repentance in order to establish the personal relationship with God that they did not have with their local Catholic church. This need for religion in troubled times in addition to the availability of Bibles helped to create an environment where people sought repentance and their own paths to God.