3W Emerging Leaders: Interview with Darren Adwalpalker Part 1

This March, Three Worlds featured Darren and Amy Adwalpalker as our first 3W Emerging Leaders.  These are young people  that are doing great ministry that needs to be recognized by the larger church.  3W Emerging Leaders are invited to visit us and get to know the countries and ministries in our region and experience the Three Worlds of Christianity.  Below is Part 1 of our interview with Darren Adwalpalker. What are your initial impressions of Europe in general?

Europe was amazing! I was impressed by the sense of history that follows everywhere you go in Europe. In Los Angeles, if something is 100 years old, it seems ancient. Europe gave us a new definition of ‘old.’ We loved the culture, food, landscape, architecture and people. What a gift for ‘culture-junkies’ like ourselves to experience such a beautiful place.

How did this trip help you experience the Three Worlds of Christianity (traditonal, post-Christendom, non-Western)?

Patrick did an amazing job of scheduling our itinerary that we might experience all three worlds. In Berlin, we saw the XZ Berlin team wrestling through what an authentic expression of Christianity looks like in their post-Christian context. In Braunschweig we saw more of a traditional church reaching out to their post-Christian surroundings. In Tottenham, we saw the non-Western world engaged in passionate worship and dynamic prayer and seeking to reach their community.

How do you think your evangelism efforts have benefitted from being selected as a Three Worlds emerging leader and getting this experience?

I had a conversation with a woman on the plane from Berlin to NY about the Three Worlds (she is originally from London, living in Berlin). Being a post-Christendom person herself, she really related to my assessment of the church from that angle. It opened up a great conversation for us about religion, faith and Jesus. For me this was the ‘first fruit’ as a result of this trip. I know it will continue to open me to a broader sense of the church and how to engage people specifically in the post-Christian frame.

As pastor of a church with all three worlds present, it gives me a broader perspective on how to engage the three worlds in our own context.

4. All of the people you met with expressed that they learned a lot from both of you.  What were the main objectives of the lessons and sermons you gave in Europe?

- In Braunschweig, I spoke of the need to consider our changing context of ministry (where the church is being viewed as irrelevant to many people) and how to engage people where the live and work, rather than having outreach solely focused around the church building and structures. I used Paul’s model of contextualizing the Gospel to the Greek philosophers in Athens in Acts 17.

- In Fritzlar, I felt so blessed to be able to speak to a group of students who are familiar with the context of the post-Christian world but will likely be going into churches that operate from a  traditional frame after leaving Bible school. With them, I discussed dynamics of change and transition that they will be facing in those situations and how they can be used as agents of transformation in their changing three-worlds contexts.

- Amy gave a talk about maintaining self and marriage in ministry. She talked about the gauges that we need to pay attention to in our lives (physical energy, emotions and relationships) to avoid burnout, blowups or addictions.

- In Tottenham, we spoke about effective multicultural ministry. We shared our story of the Spanish church plants in Los Angeles and principles that might help the church as they consider reaching out to their community. Specifically, we talked about the importance of ‘Bridge People’ for successful multiethnic ministry. Bridge people are natural connectors between different groups that have big hearts, are cross-culturally aware and are kingdom-minded. We ended by discussing how the youth of the Tottenham church are natural bridge people between the three worlds (traditional, post-Christian, and non-western). Hopefully, the church will have a vision for how to best utilize them in that role as they navigate the three worlds.

- On Sunday in Tottenham, Amy gave a message from Proverbs 31 about being a woman of virtue. It was mother’s day in England that day, and her message resonated with the women about serving God out of their uniqueness in their everyday lives.

We will post Part 2 very soon! Stay tuned.