Towards the end of the ‘Church Planters X-Change’ at Toivonlinna last week Michael (one of the team from ‘Cottage Beck Cafe Church’ in Scunthorpe, England) said to me, “This is an experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life!” Laverne Byng – committed to planting a ‘gym church’ – called it “a rather thrilling week.” And, it was. We sensed that God met us – and inspired and challenged us. Juris Rekis from KORINTA Cafe Church plant in Riga, Latvia called it a “wonderful and Spirit-filled week.” Speaking for the KORINTA church planting team, he says, “It was a great time and we solved a lot of things. But the happiest moment was when the Spirit filled each one of us.”
By the end of the week we knew that God was blessing – but we also knew that it was time to go. It was time to get on with planting – to put the new visions and plans in place, to build friendships with unchurched people, to establish support/coaching systems, etc. The Utrecht Uni&k team returned to meet the newly arriving university students (see below). Leaders and coaches returned to their countries to plan and ensure that clear national church planting strategies are in place to support a movement of church planting. Church planting core teams returned to pray and plan project together.
Writing to encourage the church planters in the South England Conference, Aris Vontzalidis, reflects upon the ‘remarkable way’ in which we experienced the presence of God at Toivonlinna. He wrote, “The Spirit of God was present in the shouts of joy and adoration, as well as in the tears of repentance and gratitude. He brought such a bonding and belonging, and a sense of purpose, in a way that only He knows how.” And then Aris urges, “May we continue to tune in and follow His directions in our projects for the glory of His name. We haven’t seen anything yet!
Please don’t get discouraged if the enemy throws all he has to you for he is very unhappy of what is taking place around Europe, and never forget that he is a liar. Although we are not match for him the One who dwells in us is far greater than him and has already defeated him!”
And, yes, it can tough. The Uni&k team has faced some challenges this week. It hasn’t all gone as they had hoped. But, an email came from Judith Gude yesterday in which she writes, “Last night I was a bit dissappointed. But this morning I read the following text in the Bible, and I just wanted to share that with you. ‘We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.’ (2 Cor. 4:8-9)” Encourage and pray for each other. Share your experiences. You are doing a great work for God.
CHURCH PLANTING NEWS – 15 Aug 03
In this issue:
# Uni&k – WELCOMES STUDENTS!
# LAVERNE AKS US TO ‘PRAY LIKE CRAZY’
# ETHIOPIAN JEWS FIND MESSIAH!
# X-CHANGE PICTURES
# NATIONAL X-CHANGES IN 2004
# HOW CAN YOUR CHURCH PLANT BE A SUPER-POSITIVE INFLUENCE IN YOUR COMMUNITY # GREAT PREACHING REQUIRES A SENSE OF URGENCY
Uni&k – WELCOMES STUDENTS!
The Uni&k team (Utrecht, the Netherlands) returned from the Church Planters X-Change to welcome the uni students arriving to register on Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday. Five of the Uni&k team were meeting students by 8.30 on Monday morning – and that day they introduced themselves, handed out 600 flyers advertising Uni&k and inviting people to a free barbecue. “There were almost no negative comments!” reports Judith Gude. “That really made us feel good, for we were afraid that many of the students would give a negative response.”
It was a learning experience. “We found out later that you needed a permit to hand out flyers and we didn’t have that,” says Judith.
“Another group got a 500 euro fine, but nobody stopped us, or told us to go away, or fined us….” They also had to move their barbecue and tables – because they had set up in the wrong place – “but God blessed us with a much better spot! We moved our tables, barbecue set and food a couple of hundred meters and set up everything again. But all the student groups happened to walk by this spot. In this way we had them at groups of between
5 and 20 at the time, in stead of hundreds at once! So you can imagine that we had much better conversations with the new students and their mentors.”
On Wednesday evening Uni&k held ‘open house for the students.
With such a great response on registration day – they were really disappointed when nobody just walked in to the ‘open house.’ However, Tabitha Dingjan personally invited and brought two friends – and another girl living upstairs was personally invited to join in. “Probably God was hearing our prayers after all and it might be better this way – for we had some good conversations with the three who came,” says Judith.
Once again it was demonstrated that once contacts are developed into friendships – friends will come. Keep up the good work Uni&k team.
You inspire us all. And, it was really good to hear that your distinctive yellow t-shirts attracted a girl to come up to you on the city street to say – “I noticed that your shirt is about a student church. What’s that all about?” We are praying that she will come this Sabbath afternoon when you are inviting your student friends to a special worship experience.
LAVERNE AKS US TO ‘PRAY LIKE CRAZY’
It is this weekend that Laverne Byng is going away for a weekend retreat with women from her aerobics and exercise classes. Trust has built up – and Laverne senses that God is leading as she shares with these women from different nationalities, cultures and religious backgrounds. She has expressed her concerns to one of the ladies about how the weekend will go – and her friend shared an Arabic saying that means that ‘if your intention is to do good for people all will be well.’ Laverne writes, “Please pray like crazy and I’m serious!”
ETHIOPIAN JEWS FIND MESSIAH!
Church leader and planting coordinator for Israel, Richard Elofer, reports that he spent “a delicious Shabbat with my brothers and sisters from Ethiopia. There were 25 to 30 new people attending this very new congregation and the people are full of courage, the Holy Spirit and joy.” Praise God! What great news!
X-CHANGE PICTURES: Salvatore Bognandi has placed 150 pictures of the X-Change at on the following site – http://www.adventist.se/xchange/
NATIONAL X-CHANGES IN 2004
Within the next week or so we will give details of your national church planting X-Changes for 2004. You will not want to miss these times for sharing, learning, praying and encouraging each other.
HOW CAN YOUR CHURCH PLANT BE A SUPER-POSITIVE INFLUENCE IN YOUR COMMUNITY (from Ron Gladden) Go to www.leadershipjournal.net <http://www.leadershipjournal.net/> to enjoy an excellent article titled, “Like a Good Neighbor.”
GREAT PREACHING REQUIRES A SENSE OF URGENCY
Billy Hybels has observed, “Many years ago when I was trying to take a step toward improving my own preaching I listened to about fifteen or twenty different sermon tapes while asking “What are the common denominators of great preaching and teaching?” The one that consistently rose to the top was this sense of urgency. I was repeatedly struck with how the person preaching was talking as though their subject matter was the most urgent issue on the planet. Everything else went away. So I began to analyze that.
“If preaching is done right you live with a text or topic for a week and it builds steam in your spirit. You’re thinking about it, talking to people about it, and asking that God will anoint it. So by the time you’re ready to preach, this subject is the most urgent item in your spirit. If you’ve prepared properly, there is an urgency coming out of you that’s not manufactured. That becomes compelling communication.” (from Preaching Today Sermons newsletter – PreachingNow Vol. 2, No. 27)