I’m writing this from a town called Whylen, Germany, directly across the border from Basel, Switzerland. Last night I spoke at a conference called Glaube in Bewegung or Faith in Action in downtown Basel, a beautiful city that’s a striking combination of old world architecture and postmodern capitalism. You might see an H&M store in a four hundred year old building. The downtown streets are vibrant and crowded with people shopping and eating in cafes (and Starbucks). It’s on the Rhine River, which is light green and clean; the Ohio River looks like chocolate compared to this. We saw swimmers, even though it was a little cool. Imagine people coming to the Serpentine wall in Cincinnati and swimming.
A banner over the doorway of the church hosting the conference says, “Small things done with great love will change the world” in German. The conference started with a bang: a quick welcome and then—surprise! —everyone goes out to serve. I loved it. The Vineyard here has such a good relationship with the city that they have a key to the city’s sanitation department and can take several hundred bright yellow vests, “trash” pickers and gloves to clean the city for outreaches. Sweet.
For the first hour of the conference we walked the streets and picked up cigarette butts and litter. The streets are actually quite clean, but this is really a nice touch. Afterwards, my friend and host Martin Benz spoke (in German, of course) and then I spoke with a translator. People seemed to respond well; Martin called it refreshing. I think that’s good. Later we walked to a restaurant called ZicZac’s with concert posters of B. B. King and Junior Walker serving food entrees with names like “San Antonio Chili” and “Louisiana Ribs” all in German. Plus, top it off with a Swiss microbrewery beer. Huh?
Finished the morning session speaking about what Outward Focused Churches look like. Again, a bit difficult to do with a translator. Not her fault; Nina has done a great job. It’s just finding your rhythm and tempo that’s hard…and self-editing as you go. I’ll speak again in a few hours and then again tomorrow night for the fourth session. Did another outreach today; cleaned windows in a senior citizens center apartments and got to pray with a woman in her nineties through a translator.
I had interesting conversations with several pastors who seemed spun by the talk. They are in the process of discovering their church's soul...which I talked about this morning. I also met a very sharp Christian psychologist named Dr. Samuel Pfeifer who spoke as well. I felt a connection with him; we had it interpreted in English for us...and well worth it. Shared an interesting lunch with him.
Getting here was an experience; we got stuck in Washington D.C. in a thunderstorm and sat on the tarmac for nearly five hours before we could take off for the eight hour flight. I was in the middle of the center row of four seats next to a large gentleman. Big deal…we’re flying, for heaven’s sake…and not taking a boat. I’ve got no room to complain.
Anyway, after this conference, midweek we fly to Dublin to meet with the Vineyard leaders there and speak in my friend Jason Scott’s church in Dungannon. Looking forward to seeing all our friends there.
Enough for now. Spread the love.