Munich Adventure

Nathan, Rada, Anya & Aleksa's move to Munich…

Tag: church planting Page 1 of 3

A bit of chocolate goes a long way

In the classic film Chocolat we see the amazing protagonist open up a chocolaterie in the middle of a closed off, overly religious and legalistic French village.  The mayor and other prominent villagers ensure she is made very unwelcome yet, one by one, she brings life to the more excluded villagers through a non judgmental attitude, an ability to see the potential in each of them and, of course, through amazing tasting chocolate!  Relationships are restored and the village transformed!

In some ways this really resonates with what we are aiming to do in Munich.  We are not seeking to find a place within church walls to which people can come to us.  We are seeking to set-up our lives outside of formal church structure and encounter people with whom we can share a bit of the life of God with.  Similar to Chocolat it is important that we are non-judgmental, look for the best in others and, of course, eat great food together!

Many people have recommended we read Alan Scott’s Scattered Servants book that came out last year.  It is a very special book that exhorts its readers to bring life to the cities they live in, not through great quality church meetings, but through scattering throughout their neighbourhoods and loving people wherever they find them.  This is what we love to do and this is what we believe God has called us to!

“You are My children and I have given you good things to share.  As you follow Me, you will encounter people who are far from Me, who are fighting for faith, struggling in their marriages, longing for healing, wondering if I am alive.  As you meet them, share what I give you for them.  Don’t worry if it feels like you have nothing to offer.  It is My pleasure to send you out empty but bring you back full.”

SCATTERED SERVANTS, P44

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

As I ride around Munich for my work I get to enjoy the architecture, landscape and art.  Probably my favourite piece is this sculpture on the corner of Prinzregentenstraße and Seitzstraße, across the road from Haus der Kunst and the Englischer Garten surfers.

I always see myself as the small child standing on the shoulder of the man who appears to be a traveller or a shepherd.  Sometimes I reflect that it is on the caring shoulder of Jesus that I stand, and it reminds me that he walks the journey with us, that he is our strength and protection, and gives us a grand view of the adventure, like a father taking a small child on a hike.

But more often I think of the saying, ‘Standing on the shoulders of giants’ and that, even though my Christian walk and mission is one that is very much in its infancy, I have the privilege of a high perspective and millennia of experience because of all those that have walked the path before me.

  • I think first of my parents, grandparents and great grandparents – of their own lives of service to Christ and of the prayers said for us each day.
  • Then I think of those who have known me and pastored me and loved me at different stages and in different places – of the inspiring examples set and of the passionate care they have expressed.
  • Then I think of contemporary heroes of the Christian faith whose stories I can relate to yet who were trailblazers for Christian mission in these crazy and confusing decades and centuries that we live in.
  • And finally, I think of the early church apostles – of their obedience to God even though there was little practical evidence that the mission they were about could ever succeed.  I have the privilege of observing more than 2000 years of fruit of the work of the church yet they just had a few years of persecution to encourage them!  I think of the amazing verse from the book of Hebrews:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

Hebrews 12:1-2

Sometimes as I ride around I can feel that the work we are attempting is so insignificant, and sometimes it feels so futile.  Yet I know that I can fix my eyes on Christ and keep running this race, knowing that I am standing on the shoulders of countless giants who have paved the way for us to be where we are today and that there comes another generation that will stand maybe a little higher also because of the work that we, by the grace of God, will have accomplished.

….to the Nations

Nathan explains a little of our heart for the nations

I have a new addiction.  It is a card game called Mapominoes which combines two of life’s joys – geography and competition!  Yes, it is completely geeky but it keeps me happy.

Using a card game to pray for the nations!

I have always been fascinated by maps and other countries.  I would spend hours pouring over atlases and I can remember as a child trawling the exhibition stands at Christian conferences looking for information about missionary organisations and the different countries they were working in.  The prayer tool Operation World was a big favourite of mine.

Do you also love the whole concept of different nations, cultures, peoples?  Built into humankind is the desire to explore and to know, surely a resonance with God’s eternal plan for his created people to spread out throughout the earth.

This whole theme is intrinsic to our calling as a family and of the culture we desire to shape for our mission here in Munich.  One of the reasons we were excited to move to Munich is that it is full of the nations – tens of thousands of people from the Balkans, Italy, Greece, Turkey, west and east Africa, the Middle East, the former Soviet nations…and many more.

Yes, we want to plant a church in Germany that serves German people, but we also want it to be representative of the communities that are here in the city.  And further to that, we are passionate to see our mission efforts overflow from Munich and effect other nations too.  That is why two very important moments in our church planting venture so far were having visitors last summer from church leaders from Serbia and from Macedonia.

Visit of Vlada & Sonja, church planters from Serbia

This coming weekend Rada will be attending a Prophetic Missions Conference in Niš, Serbia.  This is all about being blessed by brothers and sisters from other nations and about being a blessing to the nations.  It is about laying a DNA for our church community in Munich that has a great love for other cultures and passion to serve other nations.  We’re very excited to see what will happen this weekend and eagerly looking to the future and building a church that has Jesus’ commission to his church right at its heart!

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit.

 

God’s Ambassadors

My cousin Jason, and his wonderful family, have been living on a creek in the Amazon for a significant number of years.  At the end of last year Jason sent me this encouragement which has stayed with me powerfully:

…you are God’s ambassadors, sent by the Spirit, with the highest calling that any created being can receive, to proclaim Christ! This is why you live in that particular street, work for that particular company, why your children go to those particular schools, why you shop where you shop…

The German word for embassy has the same meaning as the word for message – die Botschaft.  (Of course the etymological path is similar in English, just not as obvious.)  So ambassadors have a message to proclaim!  This little linguistic nugget reminded me of Jason’s words.

This is important to me because our phase of life and mission at the moment could at times be described as mundane, it is often hard work and not quite what I imagined ‘missionary life’ was like while I was growing up reading about Christians sent to far flung corners of the globe.  For us, this means the kids getting out the house before 7am for school, continuing to struggle through German language, challenging employment, periods of isolation.  However, on those dark mornings and weary evenings it is important for us to remember that we are ambassadors for Christ!

This means our mission is of the highest purpose and our equipper is of the highest calibre.  Like Q is always giving James Bond gadgets that come in handy at just the right moment, God has many good gifts for us to help us achieve the mission.  Sometimes that might include an Aston Martin, but even when your car is not what you might want, the spiritual gifts that God gives us are vital and should not be taken for granted or neglected.

The calling goes for all Christians everywhere!  When life feels tough, boring, discouraging, painful, hopeless etc. etc. then we remember on whose behalf we are living and for what purpose….we are God’s ambassadors, sent by the Spirit, to proclaim Christ!

The latest UK mission team came to help us in January. Next one due out in April.

 

A Church Planting Hero

There is one member of our church planting team who has been part of the dream before we even considered Munich to be a potential location to plant. This member of the team as experienced all the celebrations and all the tears. She has counted the cost in her own life, borne the risk and jumped with us when we took the plunge.

We wanted to use this blog space to honour our 14 year old daughter and the part she is playing in this church planting adventure. You cannot overestimate the courage, tenacity and determination that Anya has displayed over the years in getting to this point where we are now living in Munich and actively planting a church.

We were resolved that Anya would be an active part of the decision making process in this big life decision, but this doesn’t mean that all Anya had to do was simply jump on board with all the excitement. Anya had to make some big sacrifices, not least leaving precious things behind; one of the most wonderful schools imaginable, some very close friends and the horses at the stables where she had been helping out and getting riding lessons.

Now we are here in Munich there are some great things to enjoy but there is also a life to be lived which comes with all its challenges and difficulties. For example, the German grammar school system can be demanding and Anya has the increased challenge of being required to succeed academically in a language she has been speaking for just over a year. And of course, trying to forge new friendships is never easy – even when you are used to having to start over again. (We counted that this is Anya’s 7th school in less than 9 years)

Anya is an intrinsic part of church life here and seems to have the gift of service etched deep within her. We have held fortnightly services in our home for the last year and anyone who has attended church for any amount of time will know what a challenge getting ready for church on a Sunday morning can be. Yet in the tiredness and busyness of a Sunday morning it will be Anya who is vacuuming and dusting at 8:00am, helping helping prepare the church breakfast and then welcoming new guests with her friendly conversation.

Anya is a star. She is so much fun, insanely intelligent, utterly unique and resilient beyond her years. We are privileged to journey with her – our daughter and co-worker in Christ.

God Loves Munich – first event!

On Sunday 29th October we hosted our first public event as a church plant.  As we are a small team we needed to enlist a lot of help from friends [*credits below] but it was a great feeling to make a positive statement about who we are, what we believe, and what we are dreaming of.

We hired a room above one of Munich’s most iconic beerkellers hoping to make the statement that though we are an international team we desire to plant a German church!  So the location was stunning and we did our best to put together a programme that pointed to God and communicated about his heart for the city of Munich and the nations.

We were enormously blessed by a team of 8 wonderful individuals from Trinity Church London.  For 48 hours before our event hey prayed, they prophesied, they walked the streets, they sat in cafes, they encouraged, they connected with people – anything to build the kingdom of God.  Thank you!

Quite simply, the amount of people who came to help us and support us was the most encouraging thing that could have happened to us.  Of the 35 people who attended, 26 were there because they were helping or providing moral support.  Thank you so much to each one of you.

The other 9 people were also wonderfully encouraging, and the reason that we are here in Munich.  They were diverse in nationality (Malaysian, American, Montenegrin, German, Russian) and all there for different reasons.  Our sincere and deep prayer is that we can remain in contact with them and support them on their discipleship journey.

We hope this event will be regular but it certainly won’t be frequent.  The nitty gritty of what we do as a church planting team is meeting with people individually, informally and semi-formally.  We really believe that the work of discipleship in this post-christian era is achieved through spending quality time with people, not through getting people to attend church meetings.  With this in most of  our activities for the rest of this academic year will all take place in cafes, bars, work places and round dining tables.

Nevertheless, we are planning similar events in January, April and July.  Please do consider coming out to help us with these.  We are especially low on numbers supporting us for the January mission weekend (11-14th).

To whet your appetite here is a little video that Anya put together:

*With thanks to:
Trinity Church London
Duncan Hanton
Uli Pfauth
shirtboxx.de
Susie Minnear
Ronya Lunz
Tabitha
Jonathan Spybey
James Williams
Hofbräukeller
intheflock.com
Tom Kingdom
….everyone who came along to support us
….everyone who prayed and sent encouragements
….and of course the Gateway Church Munich team!

 

Announcing…..Gateway Church München!

13 months after arrival in Munich we have achieved a significant amount in terms of establishing family life and we have placed a fairly ‘under the radar’ flag in the ground that we are here to plant a church in Munich.

As church planters you are always wanting to promote what you are doing because, quite simply, you need people.  Yet at the same time you don’t want to be pretending that you are something you are not.  Doing too much publicity too early can be more damaging than not doing enough publicity later on.  Worst of all, you can be putting yourselves under piles of pressure!

Nevertheless, we feel the time is ripe to take our church planting venture to the next stage.  We have a name, a website and a trio of social media platforms.  Please do take a look, like, follow, write a message, tweet, share etc. etc.

Links to website and social media:

gatewaychurch.de

    

We believe there are people in Munich, Germany, UK and the wider world who need to come and join our church planting team and co-work with us in this God inspired venture.  Please help us get the word out!  (All welcome but bonus points for German speakers!!)

Also, we need something tangible to be able to point new Munich contacts to.  We now have points of reference that we can share with new people we meet to give them the option to follow-up with us if they wish, meaning people can find out about our meetings, values and events.

Finally, a large and worthy shout out to our web designer/builders  intheflock.com.  These guys have been incredibly generous, helpful and professional.  They have served us, been patient with us and shared their skills and passion to enable Gateway Church München to have a website that we believe is just perfect for the stage of church planting we are at.  Thank you sincerely!

 

9 Reasons to be a Food Delivery Rider

A post from Nathan

Which famous figure said this about the capital of France…?

Fantastic bike ride through Paris. I cannot say this enough: to truly appreciate a city, get on a bike.

Answer at the bottom of the post!

Since March I’ve been earning part of our family living by riding around Munich delivery restaurant food to offices and apartments.  Here is a list of 9 reasons why this is a great job…

  1. Learning about local culture.  If you were to move to a new city and you enjoy riding your bike then there are few things I’d recommend more than signing up to work with a restaurant delivery company like Deliveroo or Foodora*.  You see all parts of the city centre from 11am until midnight and are absorbing all the details of how people interact and how the city works.
  2. It keeps you fit.  I have only been running once since I started the job, yet I am the lightest (and presumably fittest) I have been for years.
  3. You learn to appreciate tipping.  I have always been a fan of tipping service staff but now I am an all out champion for being generous with your change.  I know industries could do away with tipping by paying decent wages in the first place but nevertheless there are few better feelings than climbing to the top of five flights of stairs, wet and cold, handing over a bag of fast food and then receiving a smile and a few euros.  By the way, I wouldn’t want to start an argument but in my experience men are twice as likely to tip as women and sushi eaters hardly ever tip!
  4. Beautiful Sights.  I guess some cities are better than others but Munich is a stunning city to cycle around.  The river, the architecture, the bridges, the churches, the streets, the unique skyline.  One favourite of mine is riding across the mostly deserted festival ground for Oktoberfest when it is out of season.

    The festival ground for Oktoberfest during a quieter part of the year

  5. No boss and no employees.  My boss is a smartphone app that never gets annoyed with me and I am responsible for nobody.
  6. Spending part of your life outside.  One of the worst things about the world of work is that you are likely to spend most of your time either in the office or in the car.  With this job you are outside, seeing the sunsets, feeling the sun, the wind and the rain.  Even though you are in the middle of a big city you feel connected with creation.
  7. It keeps you humble. Riding around in pink uniform or, worse, falling off your bike whilst wearing pink, certainly help one to keep an appropriate opinion of oneself.
  8. People watching.  What better way to maximise your people watching than to ride around on a bike?  You see hundreds of people everyday and every shift there are multiple fascinating things to see….people getting arrested, nudists, surfers, musicians, beer sozzled tourists, road ragers….and the list goes on.  Below is a video of a guy I found surfing on the river during the recent high water levels.
  9. It gives you a passion for the city.  As a church planter the passion you feel for your mission field is really important and cannot be stirred up on demand.  It is a great privilege to spend a chunk of time in the city, seeing the people and everyday life and dreaming of what God will do.

*Other food delivery services are available!

The answer to the question at the top is none other the Austro-American politician and celebrity….Arnold Schwarzenegger 

 

If you can’t have fun doing it, then it’s not worth doing!

A post from Nathan on having a great time and church constitutions!

Question:  Do you know how to make writing a church constitution a more palatable experience?

Answer:  Do it in a Bavarian Biergarten!

Let me introduce you to a new hero of mine.  This is Andi.  Andi and his wife, Annika, have been rocks for us these last nine months that we have been in Munich.  They really really know how to love and care for people and have done everything they can to make our transition to Munich easier.

Andi and I have been trying to make the time to sit down and work on the legal constitution for our church plant.  Of course this is not a glamorous exercise but Andi made it a much more memorable and fun experience by suggesting we work on it in a Beer Garden and then he brought along a feast of traditional Bavarian food.  It was actually quite a profound feeling to be surrounded by rich Bavarian culture whilst working on a document that is aimed at reaching out to the people of Munich.

One of the first lessons of Church Planting is that the whole thing needs a huge dose of fun.  You can’t afford to take yourself too seriously otherwise you will soon end up demoralised and burnt out.  And who wants to join a group of people who don’t enjoy themselves?  Our task is deeply serious but we intend to have a great time along the way.  I am so grateful to have people like Andi and Annika with us who love us and help us make sure that we keep life and ministry fun and light.

Of course, we are on the look out for like minded people to join us on this journey!  Do you like to have a good time??  Do you have a passion for the local church??  If yes, then what better way to spend your time than helping a church plant in the wonderful city of Munich get started.  You will be having a historical impact on the city of Munich and beyond, and will be having a ball along the way.  Get in touch!

 

Recharging & Receiving

We’re so happy to have joined Regio Gemeinde (from near Basel) for their Ascension Weekend Away.

These guys really know how to be hospitable, have fun and worship sincerely in the presence of God.

We’re really privileged that a team from King’s Arms Bedford are here serving with ministry and teaching. It’s been an amazing time of releasing and refreshing.

We love being part of the body of Christ and couldn’t be doing this without our wonderful brothers and sisters.

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