In 2005, two young Germans, Christian Nowatzky and Konstantin von Abendroth, finished serving apprenticeships at Redeemer in New York and a related church in Toronto, respectively. They moved into Berlin with great hopes and a vision to plant a highly contextualized, gospel-driven church in the heart of the city. Starting with a core group of nine people, Berlinprojekt started worship ten months later with 70 people. Eight years later they regularly have 600 people in attendance in two Sunday services and are anticipating starting a third to allow for more growth. Early on they were able to send Daniel Bartz to Hamburg where he has planted a fast-growing church, now planting its first daughter church in that city. But even as Berlinprojekt has grown in Berlin, they have helped plant three other churches in the city.
The most recent of those new churches is Projekt: Kirche in the Friedrichshain neighborhood of former East Berlin. Last year in fall 2012, Alex Deuscher, having finished an internship at Berlinprojekt, came to City to City’s International Intensive Training in New York City. After spending this past year developing a core group and building relationships in the neighborhood, the church launched its first public service on September 15 with 60 people. Until the end of the year, they will have public worship services every 2-3 weeks in different locations, at different times, with different styles, which has already proven to be a great way to invite friends and ask for their feedback, but also created some new relationships with their neighborhood. “It has been amazing to see the amount of dedication and determination members of our team put into the brainstorming phase and ‘making it real,’” Alex said.
Some have drawn parallels between Berlin and first century Ephesus to describe what the Lord has been doing through Berlin in other cities of Germany. New churches in Hamburg, Frankfurt, Potsdam and Munich have been and are being planted largely because of the inspiration of what is happening in Berlin. Stephan Pues, Alex’s classmate at the 2012 International Intensive, is planting a new, gospel-driven church in Frankfurt. On September 1, 2013, Nordstern. Kirche launched bi-weekly public services at the Hotel Villa Orange in the center of the city. He has also become a crucial part of a newly formed German-speaking network called City To City Deutschland.
That network is expanding beyond Germany’s borders into other German-speaking cities in Europe. In the near future a new plant will start in Vienna, Austria. And most recently Leo Dietschy from Basel, Switzerland, has come to participate in the 2013 International Intensive training. Through his friendship with Alex Deuscher, he connected with the network at City to City Europe’s April meeting in Prague. When he returns to Basel he will develop a core group and plans to launch in fall 2014. He hopes many more churches will be planted in Switzerland as a result of his effort in Basel.
The churches in the network hope to help plant churches in every leading city of Germany and see a movement of the gospel in the cities of their region of Europe.