People's Mission

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In contrast to traditional pastoral care, popular mission stands for a form of evangelization within one's own churches . It became a collective term for activities for renewal of faith in an already Christianized population and within already existing parishes and church communities . Its goal is not the baptism and the founding of new churches and congregations, but the intensification of the religious life of the associated members.

Roman Catholic People's Mission

Mission crosses with dates to commemorate people's missions were set up in many places from the Baroque to the 1960s.

The forerunners of the popular mission were the itinerant preachers of the old church and the medieval preachers of penance and morals . The said preachers were mostly members of religious orders and belonged to the Franciscans and Dominicans . Bernardine of Siena and John of Capestrano were among the most famous traveling preachers of the Franciscans . Vinzenz Ferrer and Hieronimus Savonarola can be added to the Dominicans . In the sixteenth century, other congregations focused on popular missions emerged, including the Oratorians , Theatines , Barnabites , Somaskers , Capuchins and Jesuits . The "missio" was originally a Jesuit term and was understood as a papal mandate to spread the faith. From this developed the claim to declare all proclamations of faith that were carried out on behalf of the church authorities as missions . It was the Lazarists who first applied a practical “mission of the people”; they worked and lived in France among the poor rural population. The practical popular mission was then promoted in the 18th century by St. Alfons Maria di Liguori , who founded the Order of the Redemptorists , as well as by the Jesuits. The popular mission saw its heyday in the second half of the 19th century, as it was described by six Jesuit fathers in Würzburg Cathedral and the Würzburg Church of St. Johannes in Haug Abbey in around 1853 as arousing to sharp, deeply speaking deeply into conscience and against religious laxity and lack of humanity sermons delivered were practiced. The church law valid at that time prescribed that the parishes hold a time of popular mission every ten years. After the Second World War , more modern forms were developed and days of popular missions were organized in tented missions or with mobile mission buses. In the Catholic area , mission weeks are held in parishes at longer intervals in some places , which are accompanied by the visit of specially trained religious . They want to deepen the knowledge of the faith and animate the practice of faith through sermons , holy masses , home visits, lectures and the offer of personal confessional talks .

A mission cross on the parish church or in the village or in the field, on which the dates of the people's mission weeks are given , often reminds of the popular missions that have taken place in a parish . A common label is "Save your soul!"

Evangelical-Protestant popular mission

The term “people's mission” has manifested itself in the Evangelical Lutheran churches as an integral part of pastoral care on site. With Pastor Johann Hinrich Wichern , " evangelism " began in the Protestant churches in the 19th century, and the evangelical popular mission within the Christian social movement. From this the Inner Mission in the Protestant Church developed. Their endeavor was to counteract the increasing de-Christianization - within their own church. It all began with the Hamburg City Mission , founded in 1848, followed by the Berlin City Mission in 1877 (with forerunners in the Berlin Johannis Foundation since 1858 ) and in 1908 the Wichern Association named after Wichern (under the umbrella of the Rauhen Haus Hamburg ). The Wichern Association endeavored to Christianize the people and made use of scripture and the word. The next stage in this popular mission and the creation of living communities was the book Kirchliche Volksmission published by Gerhard Hilbert in 1916 . The German Protestant Association for People's mission was launched in 1925 and formed the Evangelical weeks and Bible Week in the era of National Socialism a spiritual support. From these evangelical “weekdays” a new form of popular mission developed after 1945, similar to the Catholic Church, which found its way into tented missions , mission weeks, church days and academies .

Popular mission of resolute Christians

Another form of popular mission developed within the Pentecostal movement , in 1934 the popular mission of determined Christians with missionary activities was created. It was founded by the journalist Karl Fix (1897–1969) in Berlin and is committed to the baptism of the Spirit . She sees her task in preaching the gospel to everyone . In addition, new congregations are to be founded and existing congregations strengthened.

Free popular mission

In 1960, under the direction of Ewald Frank , a “Free People's Mission” was created, influenced by the US evangelist William M. Branham . It has set itself the task of a complete return to the teaching and practice of the biblical early church in the time of the apostles . It is therefore not part of the “classic popular mission”, as it focuses on establishing new churches.

Popular Mission of the Baptists

In Fürth there is a people's mission “ViZ - People's Mission in the Center - Baptist Community e. V. “It is an independent free church with a Baptist character. It distances itself from all sects and is based on God's Word, the Bible. The focus of the work is on the spiritual edification of believers and on global and local missions.


  • Hartmut Bärend : How looking back can bring the community forward. A walk through the history of the church's people's mission , Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener 2011.
  • Erich Beyreuther : Church on the move. History of evangelism and people's mission , Berlin: Christlicher Zeitschriftenverlag 1968.
  • Erwin Gatz : Rhenish people's mission in the 19th century, illustrated using the example of the Archdiocese of Cologne. A contribution to the history of pastoral care in the age of the Catholic movement. Düsseldorf 1963 (Studies on Cologne Church History 7).
  • Autbert Groeteken: The people's missions of the north German Franciscans before the Kulturkampf (1849-1872). Münster undated (1910)
  • Thomas Klosterkamp : Catholic People's Mission in Germany. Benno-Verlag, Leipzig 2002 (Erfurt theological studies 83).
  • Dirk Riesener : People's Mission. Between the Volkskirche and the Republic - 75 years of the House of Church Services - formerly the Office for Community Service of the Lutheran Lutheran Church. Regional Church of Hanover. Lutherisches Verlagshaus , Hannover 2012, ISBN 978-3-7859-1080-1 .
  • Klaus Teschner: People's Mission . In: Theological Real Encyclopedia . 35 (2003), pp. 265-272.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Wolfgang Weiss : The Catholic Church in the 19th Century. In: Ulrich Wagner (Hrsg.): History of the city of Würzburg. 4 volumes, Volume I-III / 2, Theiss, Stuttgart 2001-2007; III / 1–2: From the transition to Bavaria to the 21st century. 2007, ISBN 978-3-8062-1478-9 , pp. 430-449 and 1303, here: p. 439.
  2. Mission week June 2014 with the Franciscans ( Memento of March 10, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  3. ^ ViZ - People's Mission in the Center - Baptist Congregation eV ( Memento from July 17, 2014 in the Internet Archive )