Munich Adventure

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

Tag: mission

Onwards & Upwards

At the start of this year a dear friend of ours shared a clear word that she felt God wanted to encourage us with… ‘onwards and upwards’!

There were several applications to this word but she suggested we go to a high place in Munich and pray for the city and seek God for his heart for the communities spread out below us.  There is something amazing about gaining a little bit of a higher perspective for the place where you spend most of your daily routine.  I guess you get out away from the distractions and see that you are part of something bigger, and begin to feel God’s heart for your community. And so with our wonderful friends Andi & Annika we climbed to the top of Olympia Berg in the Bavarian spring sunshine, and sought God for Munich.

Gateway Church Munich praying on Olympia Berg

Following our first high altitude prayer we have selected several other highspots in the city and will continue to pray from these places over the coming months.  Please do join us in praying for this great city.  There are so many people here who are spiritually hungry, yet seem lost and without direction or purpose.  We know that it is only through prayer that people truly turn to God, and that prayer is a critical ingredient in the transformation of cities, nations and continents.

I recently read that the wave of prayer that preceded the Indonesian revival of 1999 was mainly conducted on top of office blocks because they were forbidden from constructing church buildings.  Thousands of Christians changing their nation by praying on their knees (high above the people below them!)  How amazing it would be to see the hand of God moving all over Munich and beyond, changing lives and communities, because there are people joining together in prayer!

The rusty hinge of human history turns out to be the bended knee.

pete greig, dirty glory

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.

Munich in October – Guest Post

Guest Post – Vicky Mennear: In October 2005 we visited a church in Solihull that were advertising for a new youth worker.  On the interview panel were Steve & Vicky Mennear. 13 years later and they are unique amongst our dearest friends, and we were very happy to welcome them to visit us early this month and Vicky has kindly given us some reflections to post….

Octoberfest – timing could not have been better!  We were visiting Rada, Nathan, Anya and Aleksa while Müncheners and tourists were enjoying the annual festival – Beer tents, dirndl and lederhosen, brass bands, family fun and of course beer!

Putting down roots and establishing a corner of the Kingdom of God in another nation other than your birth country is a challenging enterprise. This is what our very dear friends are about. I am enormously proud of them. Proud of their courage because I know I wouldn’t do it and of their dependence on their Father in Heaven.

Two years after moving to Germany, routines of normal family life are growing and stories of God’s provision are abundant. The apartment, schooling, paid employment, developing friendships.  Of course Steve and I saw the challenges they face. Living out a gospel of grace and planting a church in the national language, this is, as noted in, ‘Global Humility’ by Andy McCullough:

An expression of humility, of incarnation, of service, of honouring our hosts. 

Munich is a beautiful and captivating city, full of wide vistas and grand public buildings lying on the edge of an ancient forest. It has a dark past. 

Steve and I enjoyed getting to know it, finding our way around, trying to understand what makes this place tick. Müncheners love their children. Much of the suburban space is child friendly and there are places to play scattered between apartment blocks. Cycling for adults and children is the most popular way of getting around.  Worshipping in German, visiting a German Church quickly made me aware of the difficulties of crossing cultures. Then thinking how we overcome this in our home setting?

God is at work here. God comes where he is wanted (Philip Yancey).  A seed is planted in the ground and what appears in due time does not resemble the seed but is something completely different. Something completely different will grow here in due time and it will produce many seeds. 

If I had my way Nathan and Rada would be living next door to me and my family but God has a bigger purpose. As much as we miss them, I think I might be the one who has to adjust my thinking and get on board with a bigger purpose!

Vicky Mennear, 17.10.18

….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.

 

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!

 

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!

 

Faith

 A post on faith from Rada…

I love books! I’m not quite sure where this love of reading came from but I remember devouring the writings of most famous Yugoslav writers.  After that I discovered Russian authors and that was the point that sealed my love for reading. Dostoyevsky remains my most favourite writer of all time.  Apart from the amazing descriptions and deep understanding of historical realities, his ability to capture the psychological make up of the human race is staggering.  It was from Dostoyevsky that I first understood the complexity of human nature as I was trying to analyse and identify with some of his characters.  I found this to be an exhilarating and deeply troubling process.  Not that I knew it then but the verses from Psalm 14 picture the state of humanity Dostoyevsky wrote about:

The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.  They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

But it is enough to read about Alyosha Karamazov, his search for God and finally his enlightenment, to realise that there is hope.  I found this hope one sunny day in a park while my friend passionately introduced me to the one who lived, was dead and is now alive, Jesus Christ. Hungry to find out more about this love, I read the Bible a lot which served me as a manual for life, provided great historical narratives, captured my heart by beautiful poetry and tickled my imaginations about the world to come with its apocalyptic writings.

 

 

Moving to England and learning English was so exciting not least for opening up the whole world of Christian literature (a word of caution here; there are lots of weird and not so wonderful things out there, so if you’re just starting out, ask for advice). I lost the count of the books I read but I always remember details from the biographies of Christians who sacrificed everything they had to follow Jesus and serve him.  They are so inspirational, awe worthy and challenging. I have never read one and was left feeling that I’ve got it sorted or that my relationship with God is something to be taken lightly or that it doesn’t really matter how I live my life.

George Müller

Apologies for such a long winded introduction to what I really wanted to talk about, and that’s two books I reread again recently, the biographies of great heroes of faith Hudson Taylor and George Müller. I guess these two are particularly close to my heart because they both were foreigners in the countries where they were serving, and since I’m a foreigner in every country I set my foot in (now including my birth country) you see the appeal.  Apart from these two things, serving God and being foreigners, any similarity between the two men and me ceases to exist, to my dismay.  Taylor and Müller’s ability to present the gospel clearly AND passionately with humility and empathy is a thing to behold! Their love for the poor was all consuming.  Their close fellowships with the friends, co-workers and spouses is breathtaking and something to aspire to.  The number of virtues and gifting of these men is too long to even list.

Hudson Taylor

But there is one gift they excelled in that I absolutely love and eagerly desire and that’s the gift of faith.  What else one can dream of but to be able to completely and utterly rely on God for absolutely everything, from the clothes on your back and your daily bread to being satisfied if you lack them, for the health of your family to being able to commend them to the Lord if they are to die, from the workers you need for the task before you to the promise that God will build his church and lastly from the hardship of this life to the hope that one day every tear will be wiped off, every sickness healed and every broken heart mended.  These two men don’t have to strive anymore, they ran a good race and finished it well. My hope is that although I’m a slow learner, by the grace of God I’m getting better at this and one day I’ll master it, although not on this side of eternity. I’m looking forward to meeting Taylor and Müller one day and sharing funny stories about our lives as foreigners. But before that I might even write a blog about it.

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