THE JOHNS: CHURCH PLANTING IN GERMANY
It's hard to pin point exactly when KCC started. I guess we could begin somewhere between 2005 and 2011, when we studied at Regents Theological College. Spending those years in College and another four at Derby City Church, serving under Dave and Julia Ayling, was incredibly informative to us and to our vision for KCC. Living church in the UK was an enormous eye opener to us both.
God spoke to us clearly back then, saying we would return to Germany for ministry but we had no idea when. It was after Dom was ordained that God spoke to us again about it and gave us 2015 as the year we would go back. That was in 2013. We had two years to prepare and a new baby to nurse. And so the journey began.
We moved to Cologne in June 2015 from Derby where we served at Derby City Church for four years. About a year before moving we had asked a bunch of old friends back in Germany if they wanted to join us in the adventure of starting a new church. Funnily enough, quite a few were up for it, lived close to Cologne or relocated shortly after us. Pretty quickly we had a good team of quality people around us wanting to join in the vision.
Four weeks after we moved into our new flat, we started opening up our home to celebrate our first "dinner parties". We cooked lots of food and invited neighbours, friends, and advertised our small informal get-togethers on Facebook. For seven consecutive weeks, once a week, our flat was packed with hungry and happy strangers who either were looking for a church or had nothing to do with God. Each dinner party we would have a short slot when we would introduce ourselves and say what we were about.
After those seven weeks our immediate neighbours grew increasingly impatient (to put it nicely) with the noise and traffic we generated in our communal stairwell, and our flat was beginning to become too small - we had to relocate.
We moved our dinner parties to other neighbours who are also part of our team and simultaneously started smaller groups, our lifegroups, to make room for more in depth conversations and friendships. After another couple of months, as new people joined us, our second location became overcrowded. We started looking for a larger place again. In the meantime our core team further developed as some fantastic people got on board, some left, and our vision for the (near) future became clearer.
When we moved into a public building in October 2015, a small cafe near our home, we started making more time for input and worship. We would celebrate our dinner parties there every other week and welcome about 40 people each time. On the alternate week we would encourage people to meet in our lifegroups, to really form friendship and be able to pray together.
Then we planned our first Sunday morning service. We hired a cinema with 99 seats. It was a serious step of faith! God provided everything and everyone we needed - almost as if all of it was His idea! We had the most amazing time that morning, and the cinema turned out to be too small. We couldn't believe it.
The two words God put on our hearts for the church this year are "deep and wide". In everything we do we want to grow in depth in our relationship with God and with others as well as growing in numbers and influence. We look forward to see where this is going to take us. Our services will continue to take place once a month for a while, and we are starting two new lifegroups in February.
Our dream (they have to be big!!!) is to celebrate and worship God with 300 people by the end of the year and to have a lifegroup in each borrow of the city (there are 86) in the next 5-10 years. We also want to establish a centre where we serve the city in different ways, similar to the Hope Centre in Derby. There are lots of initiatives around Cologne to help all kinds of needy people and we are building bridges and knocking on doors to see where God will lead us in this area.
All along we have been amazed at the fact that we are here trying to figure out our next step when God subtly steps in, showing us He has it all prepared and planned. We recently watched a documentary on a family of Elim missionaries in the south west of France by Sarah Cogdon.
In an interview, Rich and Reggie Ellerington said that when they moved to France, they thought they were going to start something new but soon discovered they were merely joining in on something God was already doing. This is exactly what this has been like for us. God has prepared the ground for this for a long time. And His timing is perfect. We can simply join in!
Dom, Sarah and Maxime
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