August Hermann Francke (1663-1727)
With the Reformation in full bloom, Germany was ripe with teachers and preachers writing and teaching about the Christian life. One of these teachers was August Hermann Francke who after a dramatic conversion experience while ministering in Lüneberg, developed a relationship with reknown pietist Philipp Jakob Spener. Francke took Spener’s understanding of the practice of Christianity and gave it organizational power. He was a man with academic strength and devout inclinations. Well known for the development of an orphanage while he was pastoring in Halle, Germany, he combated the misconception that pietistic thought was too mystical because of its emphasis on conversion and affective faith. Francke was one of the first to contribute to the early development of pietist understandings of mission and service.
Francke’s focus on outward ministry can be seen in his love for children. As a pastor, he saw the need for their education and care. Starting a school where both girls and boys could learn in their native language, Francke saw past the limitations of the common practice of almsgiving to the needy to creating a place where the whole person can be nurtured. He writes:
In summary, should the children be instructed aright unto a true, unblemished piety which may bring fruit in their old age, the instructor as well as the parents and the father as well as the mother, yea, all who have to do with children, must not forget their Christian duty and thereto is truly required not a cleverness of the natural [person], but rather a wisdom from above…”
He was not satisfied with a cognitive understanding of Christ and his salvation, but wanted a living and active faith that was demonstrated in good works. His motto of “God’s Glory, Neighbor’s Good” was practiced as he and members of his parish invested in the youth of the city and reached out to the poor and destitute.