“What Is Your Town Going To Look Like In 100 Years?”
How one question changed the journey of a local church in Northern Germany
When we are thinking of impacting a town, city and nation it is imperative that we think generationally. Thus a question that I posed to a church in Northern Germany ‘what is your town going to look like in a 100 years?’ was a thought provoking question.
Andreas Timm the Pastor of the church writes about how this question has impacted the journey of his church.
Read his inspiring story below.
“What is your town going to look like in 100 years?” This provocative question that Ian Green posed on a Sunday morning church service in May 2015 stuck with me.
I was on an inner journey of seeking the vision for the next 5-10 years, and now I was confronted with a totally new dimension. 100 years? Who thinks that far ahead? Ian does!
I enjoyed being a local pastor with a shepherd’s heart, a teaching and preaching ability, helping struggling churches in our North German regional diocese. As many pastors in my generation, I was influenced by the mentality of gathering and building believers and hopefully adding unbelievers to the church though the attractional church model. Being a Pentecostal church, we also believed that enough “power” would lead to fruit. In the past we had seen many moves of God, healed and restored lives and a freedom in the spiritual dimension. However, in my analysis of “lasting fruit”, there was little to be found.
I found myself in slow but deep shift… moving from an evangelistic/attractional to a missional/incarnational thinking, from being “Christians” to becoming “disciples”, from “winning souls” to “influencing society”, from “being a church” to “bringing the Kingdom of God” to our town and nation. I began to ask questions like “what church do we want to be?” but “what should this town look like, and therefore what church is needed?” and not seeing our town as a city to reach and save, but instead as a city to serve and influence.
So as a leadership team we bathed ourselves in the paradigm of understanding what the Kingdom is all about and what the role of the “Church” (ekklesia) is. We held teaching and spiritual-emphasis weeks of prayer and fasting to foster our understanding and willingness. In the early days of our church, my former pastor had intuitively (or apostolically) installed a music school, a pre-school Kindergarten, a children community centre, social ministries, serving children and families and had helped initiate a Christian School in a neighbouring town. The foundations had therefore been laid. But they had been more of a social accessory to the evangelistic paradigm.
Then in 2016 the refugee crisis hit central Europe. Within weeks we were in the middle of ministering to dozens of refugees from African nations, Pakistan and Eastern Europe – offering German-language lessons, procuring and repairing bicycles, opening an “International Café”, acquiring cricket gear and organising matches etc.
In 2018 I received a call from the owner of a local and privately owned senior-citizens home. He had just turned 70 and wanted to sell the home and wanted to offer us the opportunity to buy it. This caught me totally by surprise. Why should someone offer us as a church an old-peoples’ home? Didn’t he know that we were the local “sect”, suspiciously viewed upon by the town? In our first conversation I asked him why we were his first choice. “I desire that the values with which I have built up in the past 50 years will find continuation with you as its owner. And a few of your people are working here. And that gives me trust, that you will ensure my legacy.” Since January of 2020, we are owners of an old-peoples home, serving 60 senior citizens and 40 employees!
Ian’s question – “What is your town going to look like in 100 years?” – still echoes in my heart as a pastor, not only of a local church but of a town. At present we are in the final stages of planning a new Kindergarten-building, expanding our capacity to cater to the urgent need for pre-school kids. And thoughts are emerging, whether I should engage myself in community politics. Someone needs to pioneer long-term thinking and acting. A lot can happen in a hundred years!
Andreas Timm is the Lead Pastor of CCT (Christus Centrum Tostedt), a church of 300-400, south of Hamburg, Germany. Andreas was born and raised in India as a missionary kid. He gained a B.A. in Theology in Seattle, WA (USA), served 7 years as a youth pastor and celebrates his 25th year as a pastor in CCT in May of 2021.