Renke Bohlen spoke at the online leadership conference of the Spiritual Community Renewal. Screenshot: YouTube/ Spiritual Church Renewal in the BEFG
Brauschweig (IDEA) – After the Corona pandemic, church congregations will not be the same as before. They are facing urgently needed changes. The leader and founder of the free church "Kirche im Pott" in Bochum, Renke Bohlen, is convinced of this.
At the online leadership conference of the Spiritual Church Renewal (GGE) in the Union of Evangelical Free Churches (BEFG), he reported on his own experiences. His congregation, founded eight years ago, has counted up to 800 visitors in the service. But even before the pandemic, volunteers would have reported back that they had become powerless. Worshipers have stayed away. The community had to move three times in Bochum. All of this cost a lot of energy.
Then Corona had caused another drop in visitors. At present, he says, attendance services are possible again, but initially there were not even 30 visitors.
In his talk on "Building a relevant church – what matters now", he explained how he intends to meet current challenges. For example, he said, there is an urgent need to lead people to Jesus Christ rather than to inspire them to become pastors. People today are also more interested in fellowship than "events". It is absolutely necessary to be authentic as a pastor: "We impress people with our strengths, but we connect them with our weaknesses."
Naming the "costs of succession"
Bohlen also acknowledged mistakes in his preaching: "We told people that with God you get everything, but we didn’t teach them the cost of discipleship."That’s why some would have turned away from God in disappointment. It is important to have a "real encounter with Jesus" instead of presenting a show in the church service.
Originally, the leadership conference was to be held as a three-day conference in Brunswick with more than 300 attendees. Because of the pandemic, it was held digitally for half a day. Around 400 interested people from all over Germany watched the broadcasts from the Evangelical Free Church Peace Church in Braunschweig.
BFP-Prase Justus: Take people into consideration
The president of the Federation of Pentecostal Free Churches (BFP), Johannes Justus (Hanover), called for a focus on people in church life: "If you are interested in people, you become interesting for people."The Christian community is called the bride of Christ in the Bible. Meeting it with love and passion is crucial for church building, he said.
Pro and contra Zeitgeist
One of the topics of a panel discussion was the importance of the spirit of the times. Justus called for being inspired by the spirit of the times in terms of methods to share the Word of God, but hold fast to beliefs.
Another aspect was pointed out by the general secretary of the BEFG, Christoph Stiba (Wustermark-Elstal near Berlin). The spirit of the times has also brought many good things to light, such as the importance of ecology and environmental and climate protection. The spokesman of the GGE, Pastor Stefan Vatter (Kempten), on the other hand, questioned whether one can only pick the "fillet pieces" out of the zeitgeist trends and disregard undesirable developments such as the dechurching of society and the softening of the Christian image of the family.
The GGE is committed to a comprehensive spiritual renewal within the free church. Among their circle of friends are about 1.300 people, of whom about 250 are pastors and full-time church staff.
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