Sharing about God in former East Germany


Steffen Weil—our Global Partner in Potsdam, Germany and Nate and Brittany Bruns—Fellowship members serving in Potsdam—have been discussing with us the difference in sharing about God in a Christian culture (like America) versus a post-Christian culture (like former East Germany). Brittany shared the following information and examples to help bring clarity for us.


 

Former East Germany is a post-modern, post-Christian, and post-atheist culture. Some stats [1]denote only 2.1% of the population regularly attend worship services while others [2]have found 52.1% of former East Germans state they do not believe in God. It’s no wonder the country has become known as the “Atheistic Capital of the World.”  

In a Christian culture, most people have been shaped by Christianity, and it shows in how they live their lives. In a post-Christian society, the Biblical story that once shaped culture is no longer the narrative that gives meaning to life. So how does a church start its path of sharing the gospel in such a culture? Mittendrin, located in former East Germany, has grown by investing in individual relationships, connecting with the city, and supporting and planting of other churches.

In 2013, when a new believer started to share his faith, he realized he could not answer all their questions. So Steffen started leading an Entdeckerkurs (Discovery Class) for people to come and hear, “Who is Jesus and how does it affect me?” This course helps to answer their questions – and helps them ask the right questions. In this way, mittendrin invests in the individual relationships of both their church members and those who do not believe in God.

Marktlücke Festival, Photo 1
Marktlücke Festival, Photo 2
Marktlücke Festival, Photo 3

In 2017, mittendrin hosted its first Marktlücke street festival. With the support of a Fellowship Mission Team the event was a success. The mission team ran and organized the kid area and kept their hands busy with bubbles, tattoos, and face painting.

The mittendrin event organizers planned for around 500 to be in attendance and an estimated 1800 arrived. It was a beautiful example of God’s church, as many from the mittendrin body stood around, built upon relationships, and mingled with the city of Potsdam. It was estimated that 90% in attendance were not regular attendees of mittendrin. One of the local newspaper’s reviews of the event gave credit to the church for putting on such a family friendly festival with an exceptional atmosphere of street food, local crafts, and excellent music.

Marktlücke Festival, Photo 4
Marktlücke Festival, Photo 6
Marktlücke Festival, Photo 5

Mittendrin has also supported and planted other churches in the former East Germany. In 2016, the church launched their Assistant Pastor, Thony, to plant a church in Magdeburg, Germany. In 2018, the church started supporting their first official church plant in Cottbus, Germany. Mittendrin has a great opportunity to train and partner with fellow Christians to plant more churches in former East Germany, and in doing so ensure that the gospel proclaimed throughout the city is the true, Biblical gospel. As these cities deploy enormous influence in the coming years, the gospel they export will also influence the next generation of the church.

It says in Galatians 6:9, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” This is the mark of mittendrin’s ministry in former East Germany. Acommitment to years of investment into influencing the thought processes of a post-modern, post-Christian, and post-atheist culture.”

[1]From Operation World

[2]Tom Smith’s research at the University of Chicago