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Mission goes first, the church follows in its wake

Tomáš grew up during Communism. Christian activities were only allowed behind closed doors, but that didn’t mean that Christians kept their mouths shut in public.

FROM PRAGUE AUTOR 52/Nelleke_Wolters 09 DE MAYO DE 2021 11:00 h
Prague, Czech Republic. / Photo: [link]Dmitry Goykolov[/link], Unsplash, CC0

Compassion with lost people

“In my childhood God built my character and used me in His service. From a young age I have always felt a holy discontentment about what life was like for many people and I deeply desired to change”, points out Tomáš Grulich, a pastor in Prague, Czech Republic.

Tomáš was born into a Christian family with four children. He grew up during Communism. Christian activities were only allowed behind closed doors, but that didn’t mean that Christians kept their mouths shut in public. Neither did Tomáš.

Because he was a Christian and also evangelised in the school, the secret service always kept an eye on him since his teenage years. “The principal of my school told me, that it would be impossible for me to study for a profession in which I would have to work with people,because that would give me a platform of influence, so becoming a psychologist or a teacher wouldn’t be an option. I was only allowed a technical study”.


Best imaginable news

A documentary Tomáš watched when he was 16, kindled the flame of compassion in him. In the film, a doctor speaks about his work with drug addicts. At some point, this man asks a question that brought a deep feeling of grief and longing: “I can help people to get rid of their addiction physically, but what can I offer them instead of it?”

Tomáš felt remorse about the selfish attitude of the churches.”How could we as a church keep the message of the gospel just for ourselves? We have the best imaginable news ever! Through Jesus there is hope, not only in this life but also for eternal life”.

[photo_footer]  Tomáš Grulich. [/photo_footer] 

For everyone

Tomáš continues to feel that compassion for the lost. In his teenage years this was a reason to take action. That compassion brought him to his knees, but it also gave him the strength to fight for his own faith and that of others.

“It taught me that it is necessary to understand the gospel again and again. It is not just repeating dogmas, but it’s Good News, also in our time. And not just for Christians, but for everyone!”


Mission, an essential part of the church

Churches in Czech Republic are in the same situation as churches in other European countries: Christians are a minority in society, but at the same time churches desire to be relevant again.

How can they rekindle that fire? Tomáš, who is now a pastor of Network Praha, a Christian congregation in Prague has some answers.

“Firstly, look around you and see what is wrong with the world. This way, the desire to let the light of the gospel shine around you will grow. Secondly, we know we have been called by God to do this, that He cares about us and for us.


Inner change

It takes prayer, seeking and maybe many tears to see change or receive an answer”, said Tomáš. He is “convinced that we will keep the fire aflame if we rediscover again and again how great God’s love is for this world and for us. If we understand the scope of God’s invitation to be part of his mission to the world”.

Tomáš believes that “this is about personal renewal and repentance, not just about confessing a list of sins, but about a deep inner change. And it is also about a renewed understanding about what being a church means”.


Mission first

He thinks that it is important for the church to be a community where people can grow together in the faith and support each other: “Does everyone feel welcome? Many churches need to rediscover that”.

“The church cannot go without mission, and mission doesn’t function without the church. In fact, mission goes first and the church follows in its wake. In most churches the opposite is the case”, Tomáš points out.

According to Tomáš, “being church together is the most important thing, while mission is just one of the many activities of the church. Those churches that are stuck in traditional structures have a hard time becoming a missional community”.


Three directions

It’s about time that Christians redefine how they want to be church, how can there be spiritual growth and sanctification, combined with a missional lifestyle? It is important How we serve each other”, the Czech pastor says.

“Therefore, in Network Praha we speak about three directions: up, in, and out. When we are together during the church service, the main direction is ‘up’ . We praise and worship God and grow in our relationship with Him; individually but also with others. The other direction is ‘in’: people in the church build each other up, and we care for each other and help each other in our community. The ‘out’-direction includes ‘ together with others’. We serve each other’s friends and network. A missional community isn’t static or limited”, he explains.

Tomáš stresses that “a truly missional community does justice to the width of society where there are. believers and non-believers. It is necessary to have moments where only believers come together, to lay a spiritual foundation and to maintain it. In this setting, personal change and confession of sins can take place. But openness over the need for repentance is also a part of the missional life and testimony to the world”.

Network Praha is an example of Tomáš’s exploring of how to be missional as a church. “In the first year we started with ‘triades’: groups of three people who focused on spiritual growth and discipleship. Seekers can be added to these groups in a later stage. This is effective, because the groups are very small, new believers feel welcome. It helps them to grow in their faith”.


Natural way

Network Praha is growing and is trying to find the right way of living of the new missional communities. ”We would like to see missional encounters happen in a natural way, for example, springing from the existing triades”, underlines Tomáš.

Those encounters don’t just mean evangelisation, but “focus also on the needs of the local community, and eventually on the change of the whole community. In the past, Czech Christians were often only focused on evangelisation, there was little attention for physical and social needs. That is not right”.

There must be a balance between the care for eternal well-being and temporal well-being. It’s important to listen and to understand where somebody is at in their life. Of course, there must be a call for repentance at some point. Whether someone answers that call is not up to us. Even when Jesus walked the earth not everyone changed when they encountered Him” concludes Tomáš.




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