Recently i had to introduce myself:
"A friend of mine told me to tell a joke when introducing myself to people who don't know me. On the first thought that sounded like a good idea. I thought about quoting the famous theologian Basil Fawlty who once stated: "Don't mention the war!"
But then I thought: "Wait a minute! I can't do that. I'm a german. And as everybody knows, germans have no sense of humour..." So, apologies, no joke.
Instead I'll go straight to the introduction. :-))
When I was a Pastor near the Harz-mountains, we had a parish link to a parish near Birmingham. I think it was in 2004 when I was sent to the Bishops Council of the diocese of Worcester where I met Paul Bayes. He introduced the just published book "mission shaped church" - and I was electrified. Since then I followed the discussion.
Now, I‘m Pastor Georg Warnecke, 51, and I have been a pastor for 19 yrs in Eastern Germany in a postsocialist surrounding. Which is a challenge on its own.
A couple of years ago I attended the fascinating vocational training "Spiritual Leadership – Clerical Congregational Management" offered by the Research Institute for Evangelism and Church Development (IEEG / RIECD), and eventually they convinced me to apply for the Job on the „Agency for Missionary Services for the Protestant Church District of Pomerania on the IEEG / RIECD“. So I moved up to the very north of Eastern Germany, near the polish border.
Now, as head of the Agency I offer expert advice on questions dealing with church and parish development, i.e. the practical application of nurture courses on faith or development of new perspectives for a congregation together with the church board.
Furthermore the Agency supports groundbreaking church developing projects and church plants as well as fresh exressions of church like the „next door“-project in the residential areas dominated by prefabricated houses on the Ruegen–Island – which socially definitely can be called a deprived area, in many ways. Together with a colleague of mine I published a book about fresh expressions of church in Germany with examples of good practise as well as theological reflections. The institute also accompanies the roundtable "fresh ex" in Germany. –
One of my other challenges right now is to implement nurture courses as a regular offer in the parishes of our Pomeranian Church District – which obviously isn‘t easy because pastors and congregations usually are a little bit... well... reluctant to „change“…
Thus, I visit congregations and help trying to find custom conceptions and strategies fitting their present situation - and encourage fresh expressions of church in their neighbourhood. Because of the situation of decline in many areas and because of the reluctance of many full-time workers in the church this is, as you might imagine, quite challenging…
Yet apparently these nurture courses prove to be a learning opportunity for christians and (!) non-christians better – they definitely help in understanding the christian faith… plus: they proved (to be) a very powerful tool for church growth and stabilisation, because the congregation sets off. Also they because they get a clearer vision they might become more open to fresh ex. –
You might be familiar with two of the courses we use… i.e. the Emmaus–Course and the Alpha–Course. We also provide several others, developed in Germany. The Evangelical Church of Germany wants to implement such courses as a regular offer in the parishes all over the country. Recently I developed a course within the Diaconical Organisations of the Protestant church in Germany. –
Anyway, – after 19 years of ministry in parishes in rural areas as well as in a small town surrounding, and in a city (I ministered in Schafstädt [near Merseburg], Merseburg [near Leipzig] and Aschersleben [near the Harz mountains]) I consider it a challenge to be allowed to reflect my practical experiences now on a scientific theological level.
I try to play my part in the team of the IEEG (/ RIECD) as a scientific assistant and research fellow. The Institute as a link between the Church and the Theological Faculty of the University of Greifswald pays attention to the growing need of a new understanding and concept of a "missional church" – making mission not just a part of church life among other projects, but making church a missionary entity driven by G–d's desire for the salvation of mankind and for the restoring of his creation.
One of my responsibilities in the Institute also is to support pastors and upgrade them during the Summer Sabbatical we provide. We also try to convey Northern American models to the german context – like „Partnership in Missional Church“, which already works in South Africa as well as in Norway, to the german context. We offer lectures and contribute to conferences. And together with a colleague of mine I just published a book about fresh concepts and fresh expressions of church in Germany.
I’m particularly interested in the impact of postsocialism, postatheism and postmodernism on the church, the merging of the church between Eastern and Western Germany, the nurture of courses on faith and church, and, needless to say, fresh expressions of church. My research deals with the requirements and exigencies of pastors – and about their role – especially in this context.
Nonetheless – following Martin Luther‘s advice: „When you‘ve got something to say: stand fast, open your mouth – and finish soon!“ And therefore I finish now.""