People often wonder what missionaries are doing in “Christianized” Europe. Shoot, even some of our local German friends and acquaintances have asked. Our German tax-preparer was clear that there are no missionaries in Germany… missionaries go to uncivilized places like Africa, not Europe.
But the Global West (the U.S. included) needs the Gospel now as much as ever. France, for example, has “little more than one half of 1 percent of the French population profess[ing] to be evangelical. This mostly unchurched, post-Christian nation is often referred to as the “missionary graveyard.” This is our neighbor. The rest of our “Christianized” Europe is in a similar situation.
Germany has an important footing in the current and future spread of the Gospel in the Global West.
Without even realizing it, Jeremy and I have been a part of the LEAP Network, recently launched here in Germany through TeachBeyond. We joined a local Missional Living group- people from our area discussing how to engage with our neighbors for the Gospel of Jesus. We’ve attended one meeting so far (we meet once a month) and were pleasantly surprised that the group was pretty divided, English-speaking and German-speaking. In fact, the pastor from one of our local German churches was in attendance. So, with permission from Richard, we are providing his article here. It describes the heart and vision of the LEAP Network, as well as the importance of Germany in future missions.
Can the Global West be Converted?
Lesslie Newbigin was a missionary from the United Kingdom to India from 1936-1971. As he returned to the U.K. and the West, he launched a new career at age 66 by calling Western churches to act like they were on the mission field. Newbigin believed the global West needed the Gospel as much, if not more, than India did. Thus, he spawned a new idea and career for himself: “Missionary to the West.” In his book The Open Secret: An Introduction to the Theology of Mission, Newbigin wrote, “The separation of the Church from mission is theologically indefensible.” He further claimed “the ‘Home Base’ of missions is now nothing less than the worldwide community.”*
With those same values and heart, Teach Beyond has launched the LEAP Network in Germany.
The LEAP Network hopes to “assist the Church to act as the missionary agent of God in this world, and to further God’s kingdom by planting freshly passionate churches with an outward focus. We want to live the kingdom of God in word and deed, thus transforming local contexts through incarnational living.”
This will be accomplished, as Newbigin thought, through a missionary-postured DNA.
I can relate with Lesslie Newgbigin. It feels like I have started a second career. As a youth pastor for almost 20 years, I gained an understanding of how the Church and youth culture operate in the West. This same work is what leads my family and me to a second career of sorts. God has called us to Germany, as a family, to work with and to reach Germans; to be a part of the LEAP Network to empower and help the German church to accomplish its task. I’m excited about the possibilities and challenges that Newgbigin also faced when returning to the U.K. His question was, “Can the (global) West be converted?” As an individual, and as Teach Beyond and LEAP Network, we are responding with a resounding “YES!”
As we have seen repeatedly in history—as Germany goes, so goes the rest of Europe. That’s the great hope the LEAP Network has: that a missionary revolution will arise here, and the sleeping giant that is the German Church will awaken to God’s great movement.
We have been busy in Germany, and particularly here in the “Three Corner” area of Germany, where France, Switzerland, and Germany meet. We’re working to raise up missional initiatives, empowering new partners, and re-activating the existing Church for impact in their local communities with a missionary posture and the goal of transformational outcomes.
We’ve also been working to help the some 125 missionaries who are here in Germany to create natural “on-ramps” to engage their neighborhoods in mission.
We’ve started training other churches in Germany, too, with one day training events called “Nachbarschaft 2.0” and “Gemeinde 2.0” (Neighborhood 2.0, and Church 2.0). These have been a way to help churches re-imagine the impact and ministry they can have.
Please pray with us as we continue to build and imagine what God wants to do in and through the LEAP Network here in Germany, and the rest of the world.
If you would like to read more or follow us:
Richard Moore: www.richardpmoore.blogspot.com
Benjamin Rudolph: http://benjamin-rudolph.blogspot.de/
LEAP Network: www.leapnetwork.de
Facebook: LEAP Network
* Newbigin, Lesslie, The Open Secret: An Introduction to the Theology of Mission. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1995. Print.