We are growing, which is seen by the expansion of our network, such as the further development of partnerships with churches here in Germany in order to help them plant new churches by sending potential leaders through Aquila Theological Institute (ATI) & supporting them in their efforts to plant.
We are clearer on what these relationships look like and are in the process of defining our theological standing on critical matters.
An underestimated aspect of a network is the constant need for good communication. Bianca Zuniga, our newly appointed General Administrator, has served behind the scenes to help develop a more robust infrastructure for this as well as our bookkeeping. In many ways, she has helped us move from being a group of friends with a vision and balancing plates, to a small organization with more clearly defined objectives and how to go about things as we build. She has also been a great contributor to developing some of the Learning Outcomes for Aquila Theological Institute and is increasingly involved in her local church (International Baptist Church Bonn, which Aquila Initiative was highly involved in planting).
As we have grown, it’s become increasingly necessary to have a manager who can keep us focused and on track with all the different elements that make up Aquila Initiative.
In October we decided to offer Nick von Brandenstein a part-time job serving as our General Manager. Although he only started last November, we are already seeing progress through his strategic oversight. Nick continues to serve as an elder at International Baptist Church Bonn and is also working part-time in his own business together with Zack Carlens. An added bonus is that we are able to launch Aquila Theology Institute (ATI) without the need of it’s own General Manager, as this role can be filled by Nick until future growth allows for that addition.
This has been good progress because more time can be dedicated to the efforts of Aquila Initiative.
We started our soft-launch of ATI early in 2021 with 3 apprentices.
During this process we have completed the majority of our 19 Learning Outcomes (classes) and offered 5 Seminars during the year:
Restoration – the goal of church discipline.
This looks to have been a great support to our local church partners as we see good fruit in their congregations. For example, almost all the attendees of the preaching seminars prepared and preached at least one sermon in their church.
This is also a good indicator of our growing network as Tim Faulkner who is the General Secretary of the International Baptist Churches (IBC), gave the Spiritual Disciplines seminar and continues to support the efforts of Aquila Initiative. We were also very grateful to have Pastors Paul Martin (Senior Pastor from Laramie Valley Chapel in Wyoming), John Dirkse (Senior Pastor at Redeemer Church in Illinois) and Carsten Lotz (Pastor from ICF Frankfurt) speak at our Restoration Conference.
November 2021, we joined Amazon Smile, allowing us to receive donations as our network makes purchases via Amazon, an easy way that our friends can help to support Aquila Initiative financially. This also serves to increase awareness to our growing network.
Business in Mission (BIM) has developed in the last year by expanding the network to include businesses and developing the concept of Businesses serving toward the Mission of church planting.
The concept of BIMs is key to church planting in the European context.
It’s through these BIMs that church planting teams are provided a sustainable financial support, a means of contact in a new community that helps the team quickly build relationships and share the Gospel and offer practical facilities for people to gather and plant that church.
A critical part of the ATI apprenticeship program involves training within the context of existing businesses which is a driving factor in our efforts to develop our network to include businesses and to establish new ones that serve to help this effort.
Invisible Assistant is an independent business that has partnered with Aquila Initiative to be a platform for apprentices going through ATI to unpack the practical aspects of the business Learning Outcomes and is making efforts to expand into affiliate marketing.
During 2021 Kolbenkraft began product research into a corn cob based cat litter to be introduced into the European market. Largely due to Corona restrictions this has become increasingly difficult with their supplier and is currently on hold.
SDG apparel is a small startup which plans to launch early 2022, selling caps from Range Leather in Wyoming to the European market. They have already developed their business plan, brand and product designs.
Although we face an uphill struggle in our context of a socialist system, new businesses are only a matter of time.
Our two-pronged approach this year is to nurture our existing network and to expand on our network. Expect to hear more from Aquila Initiative this year.
Aquila Initiative has grown, where God has been doing bigger things than we could have imagined and this through only two full time staff members and the rest volunteering in between daytime jobs & actively serving in our local bodies. This growth requires additional funds and therefore one of our focuses for this year is to increase our number of supporting partners, through increased fundraising activity.
Aquila Initiative plans to continue to support the Refuge Center in Romania and their church plant called Lost and Found. Starting with Aquila Initiative providing children’s church lessons and home Bible studies which will be translated into Romanian. This ministry reaches out to orphans and people living below the bread line.
Frankfurt and Cologne, Germany
International Christian Fellowship and International Baptist Church Cologne (IBCC) have apprentices who are a part of the ATI soft launch. Aquila Initiative will continue to train these men with church planting as the end goal.
IBCC has recently launched a German speaking service which, much like International Baptist Church Bonn (IBCB) hopes to become an autonomous church. Aquila Initiative continues to offer support through David Martin’s leadership and is currently assisting with graphic work such as branding, web design and video production.
Business In Mission (BIM) Launch
We plan to launch at least one BIM by the 4th quarter of 2022. This is an area where we have stress tested several ideas in the past and these are not ideas lost instead they are simply not for now.
The change in our business climate since the start of the pandemic has altered how we do business. This is especially true for Germany as a socialist country which has had a non-entrepreneurial approach to business. Our plan is to launch a small scale e-commerce business called SDG Apparel with products sourced from Range Leather.
The BIM will be funded and launched by some of the members of Aquila Initiative, therefore not as a subsidiary owned by Aquila Initiative but as an independent partner. This BIM allows the platform for apprentices to put into practice the theory they have grasped in an actual business. A BIM is necessary for the launch of ATI as one of the key aspects of competency requires in-field experience. ATI cannot effectively fulfill its objective of competent market-place missionaries without a BIM.
Launching Aquila Theology Institute (ATI)
The hard launch together with the BIM launch is our biggest workload for 2022. Launching anything in the German context is red taped and bureaucratic, this makes the process three times longer than any of us are accustomed to. We are praying for this process and its success. Leading up to the official launch, we have a series of seminars planned and we look forward to setting up a board of advisors before the hard launch.
Our launch date is the 4th quarter of 2022 with a minimum of five apprentices.
Key takeaways from the our timeline are:
65% of our curriculum is complete, we have 6 months to go till completion with only 7 Learning Outcomes remaining.
A seminar is planned for each quarter.
Our official launch of the Aquila Theological Institute is 11 November.
We are starting the year off with 74% of our needs already pledged, we trust the Lord to provide what remains for 2022.
All of us here at Aquila Initiative are aware of the mountain of work that lays before us in 2022, this coupled with the growing need in our local congregations where we are all very active (largely due to the extended Corona restrictions). Despite our awareness of the magnitude of what lies ahead this year, we are excited about what God has been doing, the growth this organization has experienced despite a two year long and ongoing pandemic is testimony to this.
Our hope is that you would pray for us and all the plans for this year as well as consider becoming a supporting partner to Aquila Initiative in 2022.