Community in Berlin

Team Germany/Prague

Written by Justin - Serving in Germany & Prague

In English, we call the building designated for Christians to gather together a “church”. We call attending a service with worship and preaching “going to church”. But, as any follower of Christ knows, church is so much more than just a building or service. Rather, church is time spent fellowshiping with other believers, and “the church” refers to everyone all over the world who has given their life to Christ. Despite our disparate nationalities, languages, and cultures, Christ makes us one. The vision in Revelation 7:9 of all the nations worshipping together feels especially poignant to me when interacting with the international church.

Languages can provide unique ways of understanding the church. German delineates this concept more clearly since it has three separate words for “church”. “Die Kirche” (or “der Dom” for a cathedral) is the building, “der Gottesdienst” is the service, and “die Gemeinde” is the people. Literally translated as “the community”, “Gemeinde” has connotations of oneness, sameness, and togetherness, pairing excellently with Ephesians 4’s call for unity in the church. In a country where many evangelical churches do not use conventional church buildings, I find this focus on the people a cool picture of God’s intent for the church.

In my first week and a half in Berlin, Germany’s largest city, I’ve already witnessed examples of what it means to be “gemeinsam” [joined/one] as believers in one of the most lost cities in Europe. The other night I participated in a youth group Bible Study and was thinking how similar these kids are to the people I grew up around in the States despite significant cultural and lifestyle differences. Not to mention that the meeting was held in an apartment owned by the church that they have kindly allowed me to stay in, even though I’m serving with missionaries who attend another church.

Connections, the small Christian library I’ve been working at, acts as a connecting point for local ministries in a similar way. Several groups meet in the space, and its cozy atmosphere invites people walking along the street in for a cheap coffee and conversation with friendly (if enthusiastic) Americans. Many Berliners are desperately lonely, and something about the openness of American culture helps them to open up. I’ve overheard and participated in several conversations with Christians and seekers alike searching for their place in everything happening in their lives, allowing Connection’s workers to point them to the hope, purpose, satisfaction, and peace we find in Jesus.


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