U-Bahns, Missions and WTV's

How to Get to a Crowded Church

Article by

Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

Noël and I lived in Munich, Germany, for three years without a car—and loved it. Buses, streetcars, subways and commuter trains took us within a couple blocks of wherever we wanted to be. You could set your watch by the U-Bahn.

We went to the Baptist Church (that's right, just one Baptist church and a few outposts, for a million people). It was camouflaged in the middle of a block of row houses downtown, but held probably 400 people. Pastor Rudzio was excellent, and I will never forget singing, “O dass ich tausend Zungen haette.”

But there was no parking lot, absolutely none! Four hundred people! In fact, parking lots in downtown Munich are just about unheard of. They don't even put space between buildings. But Noël and I, and baby Karsten—stroller and all—could take the streetcar to church and walk one block.

Well, that's Germany. Not America. None of that herding for them, no sir. There the natives will all have their own private, enclosed vehicle. You can talk about mass transit 'til you're blue in the face. It will never happen—not until the oil runs out.

So the missionaries arrived in Minneapolis. In fact, they have been here for 115 years. And they have studied the habits of the natives. Where possible, they have tried to accept the culture without judgment, and adapt—like parking, for example.

But now the indigenous church is growing rapidly downtown. And there is no more room for the cars. That's it. There is just no more room. People drive in, look, and drive out.

So some of the natives themselves decided to do something very uncultural. They decided to adapt a European idea. You guessed it: Buses. Well, not exactly buses. Let's call them Worship Transport Vehicles (WTV's for short).

They will run between the MMC ramp and BBC from 7:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., continuously. The natives will see them as they drive into the south side of the ramp on 9th Street (near Chicago Ave.). There will always be a WTV waiting 'til the other arrives. And it is free! (A reasonable missiological concession to the culture.) The church will validate the Karte—I mean ticket.

Yes, the natives will have to get started twenty minutes earlier than usual. I wonder if they can tolerate this much foreign influence. There are different opinions. But how else will this Gentile mission church continue to grow in downtown Minneapolis?

Watching three fill with you, what shall we do!

Pastor John