Dear Church Planters,
It has been a busy summer. 300 (mostly young) people attended ‘Prosess’ (Norway – 21-24 July) – for 4 days of inspiration and challenge. The idea is to model cutting edge ministry ideas – and what church could be in the twenty-first century. It was a privilege to join such a committed and creative team of young professionals who take spiritual life seriously. I spoke on our relationship with the Holy Spirit and shared an overview of ‘emerging church plants’ in western Europe – and hundreds responded to the call of Tony Campolo to change society and church.
By Sunday evening (24 July) almost 600 church planters met at the Arena on the Friedensau Adventist University campus (Germany) for the opening of a week-long Church Planters X-Change. Teams from 12 western and northern European countries were introduced and welcomed – representing over 300 new church plants.
The next week (1-7 August) Judy and I spent at another great X-Change in Budapest (Hungary) – with 200 planters from 9 countries in central and southern Europe. The styles of outreach, forms of worship and approaches to ministry vary greatly – however, each of these events were characterised by the same levels of commitment.
The theme for the 2005 X-Changes – which have seen over 1,000 planters gather for training, the exchange of ideas, workshops, worship and inspiration – has been Emerging Churches – for an Extraordinary Life with Jesus!
For me the next week was also unforgettable. 300 leaders and members in the Czech Republic met for 5 days of prayer for the fellowship and power of the Holy Spirit.
Then five weeks of constant travel – and 5 major events cutting-edge ministry events – ended for me with 10 days visiting church plants, consulting with pastors and leaders, and a Church Planting Summit in Pennsylvania (USA). Bill Peterson (Church Planting Coordinator for Pennsylvania) organised the consultations with pastors and church planters from Philadelphia to Pittsburg, and from Hamburg to Lewisburg and Kregville (see if you can find that on a map!).
The CHURCH PLANTING NEWS will continue. Judy and I do not know what our next assignment may be – but, we will return to Australia on September 15. I will continue with the CHURCH PLANTING NEWS – and will send another before we leave Europe. At that time I will share new email addresses and contact details.
Thank you for the privilege of being part of your journey in planting churches across Europe. Thank you for your generosity and love. I encourage you to work closely with Janos Kovacs-Biro, Don McFarlane and Daniel Duda – who will continue to foster the work we have begun. The Holy Spirit is moving across Europe and there is a high level of expectation. It is possible to lead post-modern Europeans to Jesus – but it will only happen through ‘us going to them’ and being genuine in our relationships so that our friends can experience the presence of God!
And, remember – you are not just planting churches. You are planting churches that will plant more churches – to reach lost people for Jesus!
PS: And if anyone is ‘knocking’ your work in planting churches – remember: “Count yourself blessed every time someone cuts you down or throws you out, every time someone smears or blackens your name to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and that that person is uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—skip like a lamb, if you like!—for even though they don’t like it, I do . . . and all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company; my preachers and witnesses have always been treated like this” (Luke 6, Message).
CHURCH PLANTING NEWS – 05 Sept 05
In this NEWS …
v CHURCH PLANTING X-CHANGES – LEAD PEOPLE TO JESUS!
v PRAYER WALL, PRAYER ROOM & PRAYER STATIONS – OPPORTUNITIES!
v HIGHLIGHTS OF THE FRIEDENSAU X-CHANGE!
v PLANTING CAMP IN SOUTHERN FRANCE – ‘a God thing’
v ‘HOLY SPIRIT WEEK’ INSPIRES
v MINISTRY IDEAS –
· GOSPEL ADVENTURE
· SiM (SPIRIT IN MOTION)
v PLANTING COORDINATOR ELECTED AS NEW SOUTH ENGLAND CONFERENCE PRESIDENT
v ISRAEL PLANTERS ATTEND X-CHANGE IN GERMANY
v NEW CHURCH GROUP IN NORTHOLT (London)
v ADVENTISM – A CHURCH PLANTING MOVEMENT!
CHURCH PLANTING X-CHANGES – LEAD PEOPLE TO JESUS! Even though they are training events for church planters, Church Planting X-Changes are leading unchurched friends to Jesus. The 800 church planters participating in the X-Changes in Friedensau, Germany (for western and northern Europe) and Budapest, Hungary (for eastern, central and southern Europe) brought over 40 unchurched friends with them. Lives were changes. For example, after an evening meeting Daniel Lamberth, Coordinator of Club 39 – a club for unchurched youth in Linkopping (Sweden) – brought Tove Jaensson for prayer. Tove accepted Jesus – and has written that she is reading her Bible each day and preparing for baptism with her pastor, Karin Gille. And, like others, Marijan Persinovic – church planter from Vukovar, Croatia – reaches and involves unchurched people in his church planting project. One of his team made her decision to be baptised while at the X-Change in Budapest. Planter Mike Logan from Ireland brought his son, Mike Jnr – who has been inspired to go to Bible College. One-and-a-half hours were set aside for prayer and praise at each X-Change.
PRAYER WALL, PRAYER ROOM & PRAYER STATIONS – OPPORTUNITIES! Adventist church planters want to pray. Manuel Bendig and Frank Waldschmidt built a concrete-block prayer wall (similar to the Jerusalem’s Western Wall!) across the Arena stage at Friedensau. Hundred gathered at the wall to pray – and to write their prayers. Aris & Sophia Vontzalidis and Bernie & Karen Holford prepared a delightfully creative prayer room – where many sought peace and quiet with God. Bruno Vertallier set up ‘prayer stations’ around the campus – raising the awareness of all that prayer is a part of every aspect of life. The worship music and praise was integrated with the prayer opportunities.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE FRIEDENSAU X-CHANGE! This is what you have said were high-lights –
- The music & prayer – the prayer wall, the ‘cross’, the prayer room.
- The 50 kids who came forward saying they would like to be church planters.
- A team from ‘Remix’ – with teenagers (including unchurched) planning their values and strategies to reach youth for Jesus.
- ‘Re:vive’ is doing ministry – not just planting! (And, it was great to meet you Alison.)
- Exhibitions – with booths featuring the ministries of various church plants. (This was a new and very popular feature of the X-Change.)
- The fact that Adventist church planters in western and northern Europe are mostly young!
- “The workshops were so practical!” (There were 21 workshops – some for 4.5 hours and some for 9 hours.)
- “You could sense the moving of the Spirit of God. If 'church' was like this each day of the week, we would move the world!"
- "The highlight for me was Friday evening – the Agape meal, Lord's Supper and the anointing.”
- “Prayer with friends placing their hands on me as they prayed. It gave a sense of belonging, concern and care. You just felt the genuineness of it all."
PLANTING CAMP IN SOUTHERN FRANCE – ‘a God thing’ Pierre Kempf (pastor and planter from Nîmes) coordinated a week-long spiritual and planting event. Presenters included Laszlo Szabo (Kobanya planter and planting coordinator for Hungary), Juris Rekis (Korinta church planter – and now student at Newbold Colege) and Harald Giesebrecht (Cornelius church planter, Norway). Participants concluded that it was a ‘a God thing.’ “Lives were changed,” wrote one.
‘HOLY SPIRIT WEEK’ INSPIRES Peter Roennfeldt joined 300 leaders, pastors, planters and members in the Czech Republic for 5 days (8-13 August) of study and prayer for the anointing of the Holy Spirit. The theme The Holy Spirit – His Presence to Witness was the focus of 19 presentations – and provided the basis for prayer and reflection. It was a life changing experience for most. (Has your church plant planned a ‘Holy Spirit Week’ for 2005-06? Invite your unchurched friends – and let them experience God!)
MINISTRY IDEAS –
· GOSPEL ADVENTURE: Jim Wibberding of the Souderton Adventist Church in Pennsylvania is launching a short series of presentations on the Gospel of John – called ‘The Gospel Adventure – A journey through the book of John.’ This will be followed by small home groups reading through and discussing the story using the 5 small group questions.
· SiM (SPIRIT IN MOTION): SiM is a group of young people between 16-25 years (in Emmen, Netherlands) who organise monthly praise afternoons for the community. Again – it gives your post-modern friends the opportunity to experience the presence of God!
PLANTING COORDINATOR ELECTED AS NEW SOUTH ENGLAND CONFERENCE PRESIDENT Pastor Humphrey Walters (Church Growth and Church Planting Coordinator for the South England Conference) has been elected as the new President of the conference. Humphrey has been one of the architects of ‘Lights Across London’ – an initiative to plant 20-35 new churches in London over the next 5 years. He now has a vision of multiplying house-churches across the city – and the concept of planting new churches in London has ignited a planting movement across the regional cities called ‘Lights Across the Provinces.’
ISRAEL PLANTERS ATTEND X-CHANGE IN GERMANY
All of the pastors and leaders from Israel – a field committed to contextualised planting – attended the X-Change in Germany. Country leader, Richard Elofer, also conducted a 9 hour workshop on “How to start an Adventist Synagogue for your Jewish friends.” The Adventist Jewish Friendship exhibition booth was also very popular – and gave church planters to opportunity to discuss this work for Europe. “Our team was very encouraged,” says Richard.
NEW CHURCH GROUP IN NORTHOLT (London) Church pastor of the Southall and Hanwell churches, Robert Vine, reports that the Southall Church has given birth to a daughter – a new group in Northolt that is meeting in a school hall. “It has Zimbabwean leadership, and they are very active among their own people,” reports Robert. “They've been going since July 30 and are part of the ‘Lights Across London’ initiative.”
ADVENTISM – A CHURCH PLANTING MOVEMENT! Adventism began as a planting movement – and a voted motto of the Trans-European Division is Adventism in Europe – a Church Planting Movement. This is God’s work. You have the privilege to build this movement to save lost people across Europe. Let us make this a world-wide movement!
CHURCH PLANTING NEWS