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

Tag: church

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.”


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.

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!


Work in Progress

A blog post from Rada:

View from our new loungeWe have been in our new flat for five weeks now! It’s a big place, full of light and warmth, set back from the main street in a quiet pedestrian area, full of playground segments, paths and trees.
It’s particularly beautiful in the evening as the neighbours decorated their bushes and trees with Christmas lights. We are really close to beautiful parks and the Isar River, less than a mile from a zoo and ten minutes away from the city centre on the Underground.

Yet, the last five weeks have been full of challenges, from broken beds to a washing machine flood, to walls that can’t be drilled, to language difficulties, to troubles with health insurance and kindergarten spaces…to mention just a few.

As humans we would always opt for an easy life, void of challenges and difficulties, but I believe that would leave us quite empty and shallow.  It comes as no surprise that life is a synergy of hard and beautiful.  If it was just beautiful, we would not appreciate it.  If it was just hard, we would give up.  If you are older than 16, you would know what growing pains are, a necessary ingredient in order for our bodies to achieve full maturity and make us ‘fully grown’ (apologies to anyone under 5ft 5in!)

img_1331So it is with the pains of everyday life, obstacles, disappointments, relationship difficulties; without them we cannot grow properly and be who we are – special, beautiful altogether with our scars, limps and bandages.  But these difficulties can also teach us about what we think about and cherish the most – ourselves! When you squeeze a tooth paste, the only thing that can come out is what is already inside.  At the moment I am learning, probably more than ever, about what my values are, where they are coming from, where my security lies, who do I trust in, etc.   Some of the things I’m finding out and realising about myself are great, others range from slightly disappointing to plain ugly!  There should be a huge ‘Work In Progress’ sign on my head and on yours probably as well!

You know that feeling when you read something that you wholeheartedly agree with, but the person who wrote it is much more eloquent and smarter than you, so you just point and say ‘that!’.  So I will leave you with one such sentence that I don’t only agree with, but am so desperately trying to make it truth in my life and wish the same for you….because life is hard but it’s also beautiful!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.    James 1:2-4


No place like home

Anyone who has moved away from home will know that whenever you return it feels like home has changed.  Stay away for long enough and it doesn’t feel like home anymore.

I can definitely vouch for that with Sheffield.  I’ve spent time living in London, Coventry, Solihull, the Black Country and Montenegro but none of them have ever truly felt like home.  And every time I go back to Sheffield I feel more like I don’t have a right to be there.  Sheffield has moved on.  For Rada the feelings of loss regarding ‘home’ are even greater having spent the last 14 years away from Montenegro.

When we move to Munich we recognise that it is going to be a city where we are strangers and there will be a quick sense of detachment from the places we have previously called home.  The sense of loss of not having anywhere to call home can be incredibly intense and painful.

However, there is a place I have been to recently where I felt more at home than I have for years.  It was at the Catalyst Festival – the gathering of churches that are part of the movement we belong to.  The place is saturated with people we feel like we belong with and once the first meeting started I just really felt like I had come home.

I was pondering on this and came to the conclusion that it is like this because Catalyst Festival is like a glimpse of heaven, and heaven will finally be the place where we are totally and utterly at home.  We will be with God and his people without any of the barriers that we find on earth.  It will be amazing!

In the meantime, we follow God, we do things like move to Munich because we desire others to also follow God, to trust him and to ultimately find themselves absolutely and completely at home in the presence of God.

Catalyst Festival 2016 Video Review

Munich comes to the Black Country

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