In early December, I sat next to my longstanding friend (and also president of the EEA) Frank Hinkelmann who was defending his doctoral thesis on The Evangelical movement in Austria – Main Features in itshistorical and theological development 1945-1998. Years ago, I would have asked myself why on earth something like this should become a thesis. But, I have learnt since that, if you do not have a history or better said a story, you do not have continuity. Frank has done an excellent job in digging up that story and showing how it is influencing our present.
Four and a half years ag,o I took on the role of a council member in our church and I became the chairman right away. It was in the middle of a time of conflict and crisis. A lot has happened in the meantime and things are in fairly good shape by now.
A few weeks ago, I explicitly thanked a former chairman of the council. He had started in 1982 and put in a lot of good foundations. Because of these foundations, the present council was able to get things back on course relatively quickly. One of the building blocks was a highly developed volunteer work with a culture of high trust. This kept us going during the time of crisis.
We are not only building on this part of our story but we keep telling it time and again. And of course, we do also tell the rest of the story. As you can see, that story had inherent resilience and we trust that it will be strengthened through retelling the story.
One of the challenges in the ever more secularised Europe is that the story of its Christian heritage is being increasingly lost. Many churches do outstanding work. But sometimes you wonder why there is not more momentum created. A good part of this has to do with the loss of the story. There is no continuity because the story has been lost and it is apparently not told in a way which people can grasp. I am not just talking about the story of Christendom in Europe. That is one part of the bigger story. I am also talking about God’s story with his people.
Various Evangelical Alliances are trying to get the story back into people’s mind during this Christmas season. Here is an example of the German speaking Swiss EA (make sure you go down on the page and click on the actual paper). 375’000 examples have been printed and will now be distributed. This is a great opportunity to touch people with the story and making them part of it!
I hope you will be able to take your opportunities to keep telling the story. The people of Israel were reminded to keep telling the story of their God to their children. We have become part of that story and have become story tellers as well. Story which is not just history but actually creating momentum to keep writing that story.
Merry Christmas and a (hi)story-creating New Year
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