The Task Before Us

In December of 2007 I found myself in Hamburg, Germany with three pastors.  I like traveling with pastors because they are the heart of the solution to the issues that are before us.  While in Hamburg we had the chance to visit the apartment complex where Muhamed Atta led a terrorist cell that spent a lot of time planning attacks against the west.  Out of this cell came Atta and several other men who flew planes on September 11th in America.


This nondescript apartment on Marienstrasse in Hamburg, has become ground zero for the global war that we are in the midst of right now.  I am not talking about the war on terror.  I am talking about the religious war that is facing the west.  This war is not a war of guns and bombs, at least not from the Christian standpoint.  God has not won a battle in church history through the use of violence.  The early church was careful to lay down their lives when faced with choices.  They were brave and they realized that our side of this war is only spiritual.


Politics will not save us.  The military will not save us.  American democracy will not save us.  Our salvation comes from the Lord.


That does not mean that we are to do nothing.  We have been called to walk by faith and perform works in keeping with the calling we have been given.


What this does mean is that we must learn to fight in this war through spiritual weapons.  Weapons formed in heaven are our only hope.  We have to move forward in love, loving not our lives even unto death.  I am not eager to die.  I am not saying you should be eager to die.  I do not think that is what the scripture is talking about.  What it is talking about is a mentality of not seeking after our own gain.  It is talking about seeing others through the eyes of God and loving others the same way we would be like to be loved.


The real way to win this war is with boots on the ground, just like the military in an invasion scenario.  The army cannot win a war simply by sending in bombs, there have to be soldiers to win and maintain the peace.


What does this mean to the church?  It means it is time for us to move back into Europe.  For too long we have been drawn to other continents where the fields were easier to find the harvest.


Europe has become the spiritual dark continent.  It is a place where there is still a remnant of the Christian faith.  In some places the Catholic Church is strong, in other areas the Orthodox Church is strong, and in other places the Lutheran Church is strong.  We need to see an Evangelical presence that is strong.  We need to be planting churches that have a vision to reach their community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Churches that are supported by American Christians, but churches that are European at their heart. 


We have to get to the place that we want to use the church to transplant our culture.  American culture is one culture among hundreds of cultures around the world.  Some things we do better; some things we do worse.  We have to give up the need to control what we create or what we support.  We need to get to the place where we are willing to be used to create something new, evangelical churches with their own vision to make a difference in their own cultures.


At the IHRG we are working with churches to get involved with local churches in Europe.  We are encouraging pastors to get the vision and start planting churches in Europe.  These churches will be American by necessity in the first generation.  Our plan is to plant churches that plant churches.  The second generation churches will be European with little influence from American churches.


At the same time, we are continuing to fight for religious freedom.  Where religious freedom exists open societies can thrive.  Where there is no religious freedom there is little hope for freedom.  When governments and churches believe in the right of everyone to believe as he sees fit, including the right to not believe, then they inherently respect the other rights that make freedom so dear.


The combination of planting new churches, shoring up existing churches, and keeping the door open for the proclamation of the Gospel is a way for us to bring lasting change to Europe—change that will see a new Reformation in Europe.


This is the only hope for the Continent.


1 Response to “The Task Before Us”

  1. 1 Steven Selthoffer 18 June 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Mr. Thorton,
    You are correct in your view of Europe. Americans definitely do need to come to Europe. Why? They are well trained and have the staying power necessary to fight the resistance. We are planning to build a new church now, named Invitation. Started by an American. It will plant other churches. It will be “indigenous” to Europe. Keep up the good work and thanks for your defense of religious freedoms. God speed.

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Books Worth Reading

C.S. LEWIS--Mere Christianity; CLAIRE BERLINSKI--Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis is America's Crisis, Too; BRUCE BAWER--While Europe Slept: How Radical islam is Destroying the West from Within; DAVID LEVERING LEWIS--God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215; THOMAS SCHIRRMACHER--The Persecution of Christians Concerns Us All; PHILIP JENKINS--God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis

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