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Teamwork in Dortmund

Alex Suderman and his wife, Carla, had been pastoring for more than ten years in Ontario, Canada, but they sensed that God was calling them overseas. “Dortmund was attractive to us,” said Alex, “because, after serving in a well-established church for a decade, we loved the idea of being in a city where there was an evident need for churches. But we didn’t know German, and we didn’t have a team.”

In 2018, the Sudermans completed their long-term missionary training with Multiply and arrived in Dortmund in early 2019 to begin learning German and adapting to the culture. They were quickly joined by a young German couple, Benni and Franzi Hermann, who had also completed long-term training with Multiply and were waiting on God for a church planting assignment.

Early on, the two families met together in their homes for mutual support and in separate small groups for outreach. “We needed church for ourselves,” Alex explained, “but we were also busy getting to know people in Dortmund. Benni and Franzi started an Alpha group, and Carla and I started a Bible study with people we met in our German classes.”
Soon after, another German couple, Walter and Ina Reimer, joined the team. The Reimers had been with Multiply in Berlin, but their team had recently disbanded. “We didn’t have the best experience in Berlin,” said Walter. “We were there for seven years, and we did not plant a church. We talked a lot about it—about strategy, about models—but it just did not happen.”

The Reimers did not know what to expect in Dortmund, but they were very clear about what they felt God was asking of them. “Ina and I knew we wanted to be a part of a new church and to see people meet Jesus. We knew we didn’t want to do that alone, but we also felt that God was not calling us into full-time ministry.”

In July 2019, the Reimers arrived in Dortmund and Walter found a job as a teacher in the local school system. The team had expanded to six adults. Questions remained, but momentum was building.

The team continued to gather in their homes. One day, the Hermanns received an unexpected call from someone looking for a church. The person on the phone explained, “My friend in another city just accepted Jesus and they want the same for me. They told me about your church in Dortmund. Have you started it yet?”

The man on the phone was going through a difficult season in his life. His marriage had fallen apart, and he was separated from his wife and child. But he had recalled his childhood in the church and begun to explore his faith in Jesus again.

“In our small group, that man asked us to pray for his marriage,” remembered Walter. “It looked so impossible but praying for the impossible gave us all hope.”

The team watched together as God answered those prayers, and then they continued to watch as brought more and more people into their lives, and into their church.

Before long, two others joined the team: Johanna Neudorf, a native German speaker from Paraguay who had been working with Multiply not too far away in Neuwied, and Davina Rempel, a German and former TREK BC participant who chose to pursue studies in Occupational Therapy in Dortmund so she could be a part of the new church.

By 2020, the team in Dortmund consisted of eight adults and the fledgling church had outgrown their homes. However, just as the team decided to rent a space that could accommodate the expanding congregation, COVID-19 descended on the world, and everything slowed down.

“Things were moving quickly before the pandemic,” said Alex, “and so it was hard to lose that momentum. But, in the end, I think COVID was actually very useful to us as a team, because it slowed us down and made us ask some good questions, like ‘How are we going to do this together?’”

One of the questions had to do with leadership structure. At first, Alex was asked to take the lead, since he had the most experience as a pastor. But it became evident to the team, including Alex and Carla, that they still needed time and energy to learn language and culture, and to help their four children adapt to the new context. “It wasn’t easy to give that up,” said Alex, “but it was completely necessary.”

The decision was an example of how their team and church would continue to function. “The Sudermans were very humble in how they embraced this change,” said Walter, who was asked to lead. “They laid down their positions willingly for the sake of the team and the new church.”

“As roles changed,” Alex said, “it was critical that our mission be clear. Despite some bumps along the way, our team always had the same goal: to make disciples of Jesus and plant a church. There was never an argument about this. Of course, it also helped to have teammates who were humble, gifted, and striving to be like Jesus.”

As Walter stepped into the formal role of pastor, the other team members found their places, filling roles as needed. Regular meetings of the leadership became necessary to clarify direction and re-affirm roles, especially for Walter and Alex. “I know he is fully committed to me, and I am fully committed to him,” said Walter. “We meet often to share our thoughts, our wisdom. We talk about what’s working, and what’s not, and we say, yes, let’s keep moving forward.”

The team’s mission in Dortmund has kept them focused and unified. “It’s always a combination of togetherness and being on mission,” said Walter. “These two things have to work together. If it’s just about coming together and not about living missionally, it just doesn’t make sense.”

In the past three years, by God’s grace, a church has been born in Dortmund. The new community of believers is growing deep and strong. For the leadership team, they want to stay focused on the same flexibility that brought them thus far. “As we grow, we have to involve new people in different ways, in different aspects of the ministry,” Walter said. “Continued growth requires that leaders give away their responsibilities to others.”

The team is also very aware of their broader network. “At every level, we feel the support of our extended spiritual family,” said Walter, “from other churches nearby, our global MB family, our Multiply leaders, and our sending churches. We are not alone.”

This experience of united teamwork is also what gives the team confidence as they think about multiplication. “We want to expand the team and expand our vision for church planting in Germany and beyond,” Alex made clear. “We’ve experienced something here that we believe is worth multiplying.”


Is God calling you to join a church-planting team in Germany? To learn more about current service opportunities, go to or speak with a Regional Mobilizer today at 1.888.866.6267.

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