After the fresh expressions dialogue in Pittsburgh (USA) I have been on holidays in Europe. The first week I was in the Netherlands at a 4-day Great Commission Festival with over 450 enthusiastic cutting-edge ‘urban missionaries’ – organized by church planting coordinator Rudy Dingjan. Then I was a guest speaker at a large gathering of Adventists in the UK, speaking on biblical frames for new churches – while also conducting workshops for a growing network of church planters with their coordinator Aris Vontzalidis. (One day, while in Wales with Aris and Sophia Vontzalidis, we made a brief visit to the village of Llanfairpwllgwyngllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch!)
Back in the Netherlands this past week, Rudy and I visited up to four planting teams a day. On Thursday we spent most of the day coaching four pastors who, between them, have 19 churches. Members plant the churches – and the pastors coach them! In this NEWS I share a few planting stories from the Netherlands – with more in a week or so! These may give ideas – and inspire you to plant a new church.
Be faithful & courageous,
CHURCH PLANTING NEWS – 31 May 2010 (more resources and links at www.newchurchlife.com)
Bet Echad (the house of One) is a plant for those with a Jewish heritage which is proving to be an important means of spiritual growth for those with a heart for Israel, Jews and the Scriptures. Paul Daniels, who has fostered a number of church plants and is coaching others, has a Jewish heritage – and is pioneering this initiative. As well as gatherings on Shabbat, with food and typical Jewish ‘debate’ over the Scriptures, Paul also conducts Hebrew classes and fosters dialogue with other messianic believers. Bet Echad has outgrown homes and smaller venues, now attracting between up to 50 plus children each Shabbat. They open and close Shabbat with the Kiddush and family blessings – and seek to understand the Jewish festivals in a faith context and foster reconciliation.
Almaarmere (a word play on the name of their city Almere, meaning ‘all the more’) is also a church plant based upon small groups – connecting with their community through the schools their children attend. This led to a very significant Saturday children’s program, but also to major disappointment when it was necessary to move from the school in which they had based their ministry for a number of years. They have re-established a children’s program in another school – attracting about 30; however, have struggled to create the same identity. The plan is to relaunch their focus upon small groups – providing a variety of experiences for friends.
Grupo Famia, in the township of Emmeloord, was started by Ingrid for her four children and extended family. Friends came to her mother’s house for food, singing and worship. When the group grew they moved to a rented building, but daughter Nairys remembers ‘that changed a lot of things.’ About 6-7 years ago Richard and Enith started supporting this family or oikos gathering, traveling regularly from Zwolle. Regular weekly worship times were complimented with special worship events – however, these involved members of other churches traveling to their community, with visiting preachers. They have learnt their witness in the community is much more effective if they focus their special events on involving the local children and parents in a choir and drama – with about 40 recently involved in a locally produced get-together. Food and fellowship is the heart of relationships – and their witness!
X-preszo (both a good coffee and also meaning: ‘with intent or purpose’) is a church plant making a significant impact in their Rotterdam community. They started as a bible study and worship team – determined to bring faith into the community around their homes. Small house groups quickly multiplied to three – and monthly praise/worship times once each month attracted increasing numbers and interest. The core team found themselves heavily involved in the lives of broken people coming to faith – with all the complexity of addictions and disfunction being brought into the fellowship of church. Over 40-50 guests, plus 30+ children now regularly attend their three monthly worship/praise services – as well as their monthly share-and-care worship (each involving a 2 hour children’s program as well). The stress upon the core team has been considerable. With some who loved organizing major parties drawing back – the focus of X-preszo is upon home groups, social programs, and lower-key parties and sharing. X-preszo is very creative with drama, video-production, worship song-writing etc – and a local school now also involved them in providing a monthly faith hour.
Almere Sion. This is also an oikos based plant although worship gatherings are held in a rented church building. Training was received through equipping events organized by Rudy Dingjan and Janos Kovac-Biro. It started with an extended family building relationships around food and fellowship – inviting friends to Matthew Parties and small group Bible readings. This is an excellent plant, already instrumental in leading a number of people to Jesus – and with 4 or 5 unchurched and non-Christian friends involved in their worship times. Recently, another Christian family in their community has asked whether they could combined ideas and resources to share faith in their street.
WATT is a simple church – growing from Anja’s home in Assen. The participants have found a balance that works for them and their friends. They meet for a home small group every second Wednesday evening and a craft evening on alternate Tuesdays – with a Saturday ‘church’ (in some form) every second week (alternating with the small group weeks) and a monthly Matthew Party (social time) especially for their unchurched friends. This last Saturday, with the theme for discussion being the parable of the lost sheep, friends met at a sheep shed near a ‘moor’ where the shepherds take their sheep. Children, young people and parents first enjoyed a birthday celebration – coffee and cup-cakes; before setting out on a walk across the moors. Pausing on the walk, laptops were brought out of knapsacks – and the story of the lost sheep discussed in small groups. Then spotting a ‘lost sheep’ (literally) the group spread out across the fields. The morning of walking and sharing culminated in a delightful picnic.
Church Planting Movements are based on (1) prayer, (2) planters from within the harvest, (3) ‘people of peace’, (4) obedient faith (in spite of suffering), and (4) multiplying churches without money for buildings or staff. (Luke 10)
Church is being taken back by the people! 500 years ago the Bible was taken back – and now it is church! Believers are cultivating multiplying networks of simple church in homes, cafes, restaurants, gardens, etc.
Community Chaplain Services: Check out www.newchurchlife.com for more on a non-threatening approach to engaging with your community to provide support groups. Write to [email protected] for more details.
Church Planting Manuals/Guides Available: Download Tim Bunn’s God’s Plan for Church Planting (a study guide based on Acts and the Epistles) from www.movements.net. For an electronic copy of Peter Roennfeldt’s New Churches for New People (2007) or Planting Churches that Multiple – Conversation Guide (2010) write to [email protected].
Revelation resource: Here is an excellent gospel resource – exploring a challenging biblical book www.revelationhope.com.
Equipping opportunities …
Tony & Felicity Dale in Australia – Aug 2010: Oikos Australia is hosting events around the country. Write these dates into your diaries – further details and venues will be available soon – QLD Toowoomba Sat Aug 21 // NSW Sydney Sun Aug 22 // VIC Melbourne Tue Aug 24 HOUSE CHURCHES WITHIN THE LOCAL CHURCH; Wed Aug 25 FINDING A FAMILY FOR CHURCH EXILES (daytime) & THE CHALLENGE OF EFFECTIVE MISSION (evening) – bringing God’s kingdom into the growth corridors // SA Adelaide Fri Aug 27 // WA Perth Sat Aug 28
Western Australia Church Planting Summit – 4-7 March 2011 @ Logue Brook Dam: Plan to participate in a developing movement of church planters. In 2010 over 100 planters were equipped and inspired – in 2011, it may be 200+. Contact Marilyn Ostring for registration details [email protected].
CHURCH PLANTING NEWS Peter Roennfeldt