A unique gospel witness: Checkpoint Spring 2021
Posted on: 27th August 2021
CMS missionaries Klaus and Jude Hickel have served on the ministry team at Leipzig English Church in Germany for nearly ten years. Klaus shares how God has been faithfully transforming their German-language congregation into a Christ-centred community of believers.
As the name implies, Leipzig English Church (LEC) is an English-speaking church based in Leipzig. It started life in 1995 as a church aimed at bringing the gospel to English-speaking expatriates living in Germany. That said, many Germans have been involved in the life of the church from the very beginning. This is not in itself surprising, since many Germans love international flair just as much as improving their English skills! The result is a church that has been consistently marked by in-depth Bible teaching and a flourishing Christ-centred international community.
In 2012, CMS sent us to Leipzig to pioneer a German-speaking congregation as part of the gospel mission of LEC. While our German-language congregation is still
young and leadership development is a challenge, it has been most encouraging to see specific prayer, discipleship and evangelism initiatives within our part of the church. The congregation has developed a life of its own and now includes a group dedicated to ‘walk-up’ evangelism, and a monthly prayer group. As I write, around 20% of our congregation has signed up to study an ‘Introduction to the Bible’ course* together!
Some of our initiatives are bearing fruit well beyond our congregation. Church members are working on translating and providing the aforementioned ‘Introduction to the Bible’ in German, thus providing theological training for lay people in churches in Germany and beyond. One more example is EMU Germany, the music ministry that Jude is involved in, which is committed to serving German churches with God’s word in contemporary songs.
Challenges along the way
While our German-language congregation has been just as committed to Bible teaching as the rest of LEC, finding our own community identity and profile has not always been easy.
An important initiative in this regard was sharing dinner regularly with one another. It is not an exaggeration to say that without it, our German ministry may not have survived—at least humanly speaking. So it was with some anxiety that we had to stop corporate meals due to Coronavirus restrictions. But God has shown great mercy to our little congregation, and we have even seen a growth in numbers during this time! Again and again, God has provided people and resources allowing our congregation to grow and mature into a gospel-centred, Christ-preaching community.
Gospel growth continues
Beyond that, one of the great delights has been seeing a distinctive multi-ethnic flavour develop in our German-speaking ministry. While its profile certainly differs from
the original LEC congregation, both in cultural and social background, people from a dozen nations now regularly join services alongside native Leipzigers.
Looking back at God’s faithfulness and mighty works, in sustaining and growing a pioneering ministry among this gospel-poor people, gives us great confidence for the future. God has given us the gift of a unique gospel witness in an increasingly polarised society. We long to see God use us to help bring about a Leipzig, and a Germany, that knows Jesus. Will you join us in prayer?
Give thanks to God for his faithful work in strengthening the German-language congregation of LEC. Pray that the church will continue to centre on the gospel of Christ in its preaching and outreach.
*The training is based on a well-established series of Bible courses originally developed in Australia, the ‘Preliminary Theological Certificate’ (see www.bit.ly/2UoWS6E).
The first five modules have been translated into German.