Church Planting that leads to a Church Planting Movement
“Germany is a pagan country with a Christian residue” concluded the German news magazine STERN (June, 1991). Indeed voluminous gothic cathedrals once filled with throngs of God-followers are now visited with the muffled sounds of shuffling tourists. A strong consensus of agreement exists on the downward spiral of Christianity in Germany. The land of the Reformation has become the land of steadily shrinking Christian influence. The Lutheran State Churches have been in alarming decline for decades. Whereas the Free Churches have demonstrated growth, much of it is incrementally low with almost no sociological impact on society.
Consider the following alarming facts. Germany is inhabited by 83 Million people, 2% of which would appropriately be deemed evangelical. Only 45% of Germans believe in God. In Germany today there are three times as many palm-readers and soothsayers than Lutheran ministers. Two million Germans are members of 600 sects and cult groups. The New Apostolic Church alone has 400,000 members, more than the combined membership of German Baptists, Methodists, Evangelical Free, Salvation Army, Pentecostals. Three million Muslims, whose numbers are growing, live in Germany. In Berlin there are more practicing Muslims than there are church members. Nine million Lutheran church members do not believe in God! 80% of Eastern Germans are not church members at all. As someone has said about East Germans, “They have forgotten that they have forgotten God.”
Despite valiant efforts, planting new churches in Germany in the way it has been done will not significantly change the waning impact of Christianity on German culture. Church planting, especially among the Free Churches, has been pursued, often aggressively, for the past thirty years, yet with but marginal growth. Church planting in its current form has not significantly stemmed the tide of decline. What is needed is a German church planting multiplication movement, which emphasizes rapid multiplication. Such a movement, fanned by the Spirit of God, resulting in noticeable sociological impact has yet to occur in Germany or in Europe. This lack of a church planting movement is the impetus Dietrich’s teaching, writing and consulting.