My Berlin Experience & Reflection
In June 2017 my wife Doreen, my daughters Sarah Rebecca and I visited and joined the Hope Berlin/ Germany Festival conference in Berlin, Germany.
After being away from Hope International and North American conferences for years I certainly was looking forward to seeing and learning what’s driving the church plant of house churches in Germany. They have planted 400 “House Churches” all over Europe since they started like 17 years ago started and headed by Marcus Rose. This is a truly phenomenon breakthrough in post-Christian era Europe. He is an apostolic leader. I have known Marcus some 17 years ago but never met up ever since I myself was zealously planting churches in Kuching and Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia while he was starting in Berlin. It’s amazing and yes glory to God and how much He had used in anointing Marcus to have accomplished so much almost like Paul the Apostle, while I languished in America with a handful of core team. While over there in Berlin though, I have to say the theology taught by him and others are really not anything in particular that moved my heart greatly and there was nothing much impactful on theology. Most was really practically oriented teaching. But I would say that we were very blessed to see how the Germans, white Caucasians, so dedicated in serving the lord and I was most blessed by the passion of worship. This is quite an eye opener after being in America for 15 years, as I just don’t see that fervency among the westerners/whites serving the Lord in New York or anywhere else. I also had some good discussions with their apostolic leaders. Quite frankly I wouldn’t use this term so easily, but anyhow they’re good folks who really wanted to plant house churches. They are definitely good in evangelism and discipleship making, and live out what they have been taught in a simple way. Not much theological thinking but just doing it simply, quite a contrast to New York’s spiritual giants like Tim Keller.
The idea of House church is somewhat similar to the Missional community group started by Church Plant in Belgium under the Redeemer City to City. In a hard gospel ground this seems to be working. No Sunday premise needed, no headache and renting, no money problem.
They evangelize wherever they go with a heart’s intention to bring blessings to them, not just to evangelize or proselytize them per se. Like my Malaysian German friend, Kajin Teo (also an apostolic leader there) shared, it’s not about bringing people to church, it’s about meeting their needs. Like Jesus’ way of evangelism is always about meeting the needs of the people, crowd around him. He healed them of all kinds of diseases, and cast out demons regularly. So we should also meet the needs of our friends, neighbors, and contacts. And interestingly, the way they do it is by listening to the Holy Spirit saying to them. Like asking the Lord who to talk to, and what to talk about. And when they have touched a number of people, they follow them up regularly, and it will come to a point its just more convenient to gather them to gather and teach them the word of God and also fellowshipping together. There you are, they just started a house church of 3 or 4 people. They then shepherd the leaders weekly through Skype and exhort them to walk in the Lord, obeying the scriptures etc. I also spoke with Ps Denis Lu of Hope Kuching, a sizable great church in my hometown of Kuching where I have preached a few times every time we visit our parents/family in Kuching. We love visiting Hope Kuching & the fellowship of the saints there and the hospitality of Ps Denis & Hai Eng. He also commented that if he were to start all over again, he definitely would consider this house churchmovement. First you raise a lot of preachers, leaders overnight, second, you would save a lot of money by running a 500 people or more church.
Question is: How do you quality control of all these small mushrooming house churches? Answer is they, the senior pastor skype with each of them at different authority levels and share God’s word, mentor them, etc…real personal level on a weekly basis. Then all the house churches combine and meet for celebration once a month or a quarter.
I will continue to pray and adopt all that I had observed in Berlin where applicable here in New York and continue to do expositional preaching that changes the hearts of listeners in New York and build a gospel centered movement. In God we trust. Thank you Lord for the opportunity to visit and learn in the Hope Germany Camp!