Here is why Raphaël Anzenberger recommends reading the book "The DNA of a growing Church"
There are churches that invite you and whose name and address you have trouble remembering. And others that leave you with lasting memories. One in particular, that of Huy in Belgium.
I was invited by my friend and colleague Daniel Liberek. We had heated the university benches together at Columbia International University in the United States. I knew his theological rigor, his passion for missiology, his heart for the Church. After our studies, we worked on the development of the Forum of Evangelists by traveling the European, African and American continents. I had discovered in her a burden for the evangelization of the world, in the spirit of the Lausanne Movement: the whole Church proclaiming the whole Gospel to the whole world.
His hidden face remained, that of pastor of the Church of Huy. Would she agree with everything I knew about her person, her international ministry within the United World Mission? If we can hide behind academic excellence, or email signatures, over there, in the distance, we cannot escape the harsh reality on the ground, here, with the men and women whose God entrusts to us. pastoral care. I was finally going to see the backdrop.
Lost sentence. This backpacker of the mission is formidable of coherence. In Huy, his pastoral stronghold, I discovered an assembly in the image of its pastor: warm, rigorous, and full of enthusiasm for the mission.
The day before, I attended the youth group. On the menu, biblical sharing and a hockey game. In the places ! Stunning. Daniel tells me: "It's the Club Oasis and Paracool that are doing an inter-youth evening". Paracool. I love ! In the improvised stands, a person from the street who saw the light and entered the Church. “Welcome Robert! »Says Timothy, the son of Daniel in charge of this big bustle. Obviously, the man knows the place and Timothy knows the street. Symbiosis between the outside and the inside. I am starting to love this Church.
The next morning, I bring the Sunday preaching there. What strikes me at first glance is the love that emanates from this assembly. Whatever the family, sociological or professional background. Whatever the age group. Young and old who rejoice together. Astonishing! I also remember the room of worship this welcoming, relaxing space, where the cross dominates. High, reminding us of the separation of man from God. Large, reminding us of the love of God for men. The architecture of the building in line with the community dynamic. One Church, visible and invisible.
The theme chosen by Daniel this morning: "The place of the everyday Christian in the sovereign plan of God". The audience is attentive, taking notes, just like in college. Energized by the place, I “wet my shirt” and I give everything, crisscrossing this long platform. I said to myself: “Mission accomplished, thank you Lord! ". Nay. They want more! After a hearty feast, in the purest Belgian tradition, we are back for a second session on the apologetic challenges of today. The questions are flowing, I can't keep up. What spiritual and theological thirst!
I had to get out of the meeting through the back door before I got on my 3pm train. Slumped on the bench, I meditate. What an experience! A verse comes to mind: “As for brotherly love, you don't need to be written to, for you yourselves have learned from God to love one another, and this is also what you do to all the brethren throughout all of Macedonia ”(1 Thess. 4: 9-10).
There are Churches which will leave you with lasting memories One in particular, that of Huy in Belgium.
The book you are holding is a gold mine, both in terms of the theoretical knowledge of missiology and in the practical aspects of their implementation within the local Church. At a time when French-speaking churches are reflecting on the revitalization of their assemblies, what better than an enlightened pastoral look at the past and present contributions of church growth theorists. In his book, Liberek traces the genealogy of these great currents of the 19th and 20th centuries, mostly unknown to the French-speaking public, in order to better understand the challenges of today's missiology. Building on this doctoral research, Liberek delivers, page after page, the keys to Church growth proven in the scriptural crucible and intentionally implemented within her local Church.
As I read these pages, I saw again these faces that I had met during my visit. More than an invitation to discover his Church, it is a journey into the heart of the growth of the Church that Daniel Liberek offers you. Because what is experienced in Huy can be experienced elsewhere. Why not in your Church!
- Raphaël Anzenberger
Director of RZIM.fr, University Assistant Professor in Intercultural Studies, Columbia International University, United States.