Archive for the ‘missional church’ category

A New Way of being Missional Church in Eastern Europe Vladimir Ubeivolc

January 28, 2018
Porţile Oraşului (The Gates of the City), Chişinău

Porţile Oraşului (The Gates of the City), Chişinău

How to be a church and how to do mission?’ These are the most difficult questions which pastors, theologians and practitioners have tried to resolve over the centuries. In Soviet-era Eastern Europe1 Evangelical churches did not discuss mission, yet the topic of mission now features at many conferences across post-Soviet Eastern Europe.

This article combines missiological reflection with a case study of Light to the World church (LTTW) and Beginning of Life (BoL) NGO.

The Church of and for tomorrow

Very often, when we talk about Church, we ground our discussion in Scripture, church history, doctrinal confessions, or possibly in classical eschatological terms.2 I acknowledge the importance of biblical studies, yet at the same time, I think we have a serious gap between the Bible, church history, and eternity. Practically, we struggle to think and act in the perspective of the coming future, or tomorrow.

Of course, there are many theologians and leaders who deal with ‘tomorrow’ as a reality, but most of them are not from Eastern Europe. One issue for Eastern European churches is the division between theological discussions and the Church’s practice. Theology and mission are not discussed together. I think one of the reasons is that our theologians are not answering society’s contemporary questions but are answering challenges from the past.

So, what is the church of, or for, tomorrow? We need to consider the local church, not only from a historical perspective, but also from its role in serving contemporary society with a focus on the future. The church cannot withdraw from active life, justifying its absence because of its tradition or quietist theology, and still remain an important player in society. At the same time, simply echoing the world’s methods of combating problems is not a satisfactory way of undertaking mission.

The church of tomorrow

The church of tomorrow is involved in being a church and shaping theology from the perspective of the future. The Church uses its spiritual gifts of knowledge, wisdom, and prophecy for understanding its identity in contemporary life from the perspective of tomorrow. The Church also uses natural gifts of analytical thinking to predict impending issues and problems. ‘Missional church is, on a deep level, about theological imagination – a different way to see and experience life in the church and the world.’3

It is impossible to shape its identity without a missional worldview. The missio Dei is essential to such a church. When discussing the missio Dei, a trinitarian foundation is necessary, but, more than this, shalom becomes the final goal for God’s mission4 and an intermediate goal for every Church. Shalom should result during and from the Church’s mission (John 14:27). In this sense shalom becomes both a goal and a method. ‘Shalom suggests a restoration of relationship between all peoples, as well as reconciliation between humanity and God. It also suggests the restoration of the earth and our relationship to the land.’5

Trinitarian foundations and shalom frame a holistic approach to mission. The church of tomorrow still locates itself in the Bible and the Christian tradition. At the same time, in addressing contemporary issues, the most important question should be not: ‘What did our precursors teach on this issue?’ but ‘How it will affect our successors?’ The church of tomorrow should be able to foresee coming problems in the Church, as well as in society at large.

The church for tomorrow

The church for tomorrow is the practical response to the theological and prophetic reflections arising out of the discussion above. Because its essence and theology are shaped together with the coming generation, young people must be active players in the conversation. ‘A Community theology invites listening and becomes open to being surprised by God’s purposes rather than our good intentions.’6 ‘Leaders are responsible not for monopolizing theological discourse in the congregation but for leading and equipping people in the practice of theological imagination for interpreting the Word and making sense of their daily lives in the world.’7
New generations are both the object and subject of mission. When we think about the role of young people, it does not mean that older generations should be neglected. It means that they should not dominate any more. The church for tomorrow creates an environment for peaceful cooperation for different generations, open to their values, preferences and methods.

In the church for tomorrow, all generations are equal in theological dialogue and mission. Therefore, the church for tomorrow unites all generations in its reflections, shaping of theology, and its mission.

2. Missional community in Eastern Europe

What does it mean to be ‘missional’ in Eastern Europe? Eastern European evangelical churches are known by their activism in evangelism, church planting, and their Bible schools with a variety of theological programmes. The missional church is currently only discussed in a small number of theological circles. Consequently the idea of the missional church faces considerable resistance from denominational leaders, local pastors, as well as theologians.

I understand missional church to be a local congregation of believers, open to the triune God, who realize their mission through the Holy Spirit, and who have covenanted among themselves. Missional church assumes the missio Dei, that its mission is holistic, and that this involves prophetic presence, witness/evangelism, and social action.8 ‘A missional church is formed by the Spirit of God at work in the ordinary people of God in a local context.’9 Therefore, it is very important to rethink the obstacles and the prospects for missional communities in Eastern Europe.

Obstacles for missional churches in Eastern Europe

The Mennonites’ influence

It is hard to overestimate the role of Mennonites in spreading the Gospel in southern Ukraine and Moldova. Their mission was through ‘witness’, where words were secondary to a Gospel-shaped lifestyle. As Shenk reminds us: “Mennonites became known as ‘the quiet in the land’.”10 German peasants and artisans, whose life was attractive for Moldovans, established the first non-Orthodox communities in Moldova. From the very beginning, Moldovans were not evangelized verbally; rather, the Gospel was shown to them. A hundred years have passed since then, but this quietist approach is still passed down from generation to generation.

Historical background

Christians in the Soviet Union suffered from persecution and restrictions. During the Soviet era, Christians were excluded from an active societal life. Evangelism and public worship were prohibited. Churches were silenced and obligated to listen to the ‘state’s prophetic voice’ directed at them. All social action was forbidden because the Soviet state argued that there were no poor people under socialism.

Inertia of Eastern Europe’s people

Moldova and Ukraine emerged over several centuries of imperial struggle between the Russian, Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, Polish-Lithuanian, Prussian, and Soviet empires. Even today we are impacted by the geopolitics of the USA, EU and Russia. For generations, people in Eastern European countries could not make their own decisions, because their freedom was limited and this created a passive attitude to any kind of initiative. ‘Communism never found a way to motivate people to work hard. It appears that people are lazy… by default…’11

Christians tend to share this mentality. They wonder why traditional forms of mission, used for many years, should be changed for the future. People are generally very active when problems touch their family, but when they are involved in bigger processes, they believe that somebody from outside should come and resolve their problems.

Competing theologies and missiologies from the West

Moldovan capital Chişinău (Kishinev)

Moldovan capital Chişinău (Kishinev)

When the Soviet Union collapsed, western mission agencies and denominations swarmed into Eastern Europe. Some of them offered their services; some came with their vision, theology and financial support. Most evangelicals were open to, but naive, in relations with their western brothers.12 They were glad to have any kind of theological school, church building, or conference. Many western organisations did not coordinate their activities and competitive attitudes were widespread. In the 21st century, the situation has changed because local leaders, more aware of the alternative approaches, have become more selective. In situations where people in churches faced real poverty, and where churches were interested in raising money for different projects, it was very hard to be objective when determining motives. Money from the West frequently dictated vision.

A missional approach is different in its methodology of discipleship. No western theological school with a missional vision, has yet arrived in Eastern Europe with professors, programme, vision and money. There are many traditional theological schools which arrive with all manner of other resources and consequently it is very hard for church leaders to take the risk of adopting a missional approach.

Prospects for missional churches in Eastern Europe

The hope for missional communities in Eastern Europe rests on solid foundations.

Availability of numerous active leaders

Many pastors and leaders are dissatisfied with the current situation and understand the need for change. They are already active in different areas of society and church. Not all of them have profound theological foundations, but they are open and enthusiastic. Speaking at Moldovan and Ukrainian conferences, I meet many leaders who long for access to missional resources in their Slavic languages.

Emerging, local theologies of mission

There have been several attempts by local missiologists and practitioners of holistic mission to provide resources. These include: Mission in the Former Soviet Union (edited by Peter Penner, 2005); Forum 20, twenty years of religious freedom and active mission: Results, problems, perspectives of Evangelical churches in post-Soviet society (Rahuba et al, 2011, in Russian); Evangelical mission in the Eastern European Orthodox contexts: Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova and Ukraine (edited by Malancea and Ubeivolc, 2013). More recent titles include; New Horizons of Mission (edited by Penner, in Russian) and Grey Areas of Evangelical Ecclesiology (Ubeivolc, in Russian/Romanian). All of them demonstrate a growing interest in the theological rethinking of mission from a trinitarian, missional point of view.


Contact with international missional communities and missiologists helps to shape local and regional theologies of mission. Today Eastern Europe has become a region with open doors. Ukrainian, Moldovan and Romanian laws ensure the religious freedoms that permit missional churches to be established.

3. A case study from Chişinău

There is a risk of criticizing existing forms of the Church without suggesting alternative models. What would these look like in Moldova? This article outlines several options. Of course, these examples are not perfect, but they demonstrate that missiological innovation can transform missional practice and local congregations.

Light to the World church was planted in 1994 by Evangelical-Baptists following an evangelistic crusade organized by the Billy Graham Association. In the 1990s, the church was active in evangelism and discipleship. From 2003 the church’s mission began to develop: it became more contextual, flexible, and open to holistic and missional approaches. From 2012, the church adopted a holistic approach to mission, and together with Beginning of Life formed a ‘Church of / for tomorrow’ model. There are four different clusters in church; each of them leads services in their own style and form. Every Sunday there are around 300 people attending the different clusters.

Beginning of Life was established in 2000 alongside LTTW church as a nongovernmental organization with a goal to fulfil God’s mission in areas where doors were closed to evangelical churches. BoL runs three programmes: 1) ‘Place of Change’ for teenagers, a holistic outreach programme where Christian teenagers play one of the most important roles. 2) ‘Way to Success’ aims to prepare high school students for independent life, teaching life skills, critical thinking, professional orientation and character development from a Christian perspective. 3) ‘Metamorphosis’ serves people who have suffered from social injustice. This programme includes an early learning centre for mothers and kids; a humanitarian aid centre; a rehabilitation centre for victims of human trafficking and exploitation; a prevention centre for social orphans; and some small businesses with a goal to provide jobs for the most vulnerable women.

My research interviews with key people from the NGO helped me to identify aspects of the ‘Church of / for tomorrow’ model:

Equality of different levels of involvement into life of whole community / society as well as in the lives of certain individuals.
Consistency – when people or churches face different problems, they see only the upper part of the iceberg, but missional community takes responsibility for identifying the deeper roots of a problem and finds ways to resolve it.
Flexibility – ability to change programmes as necessary and leave one’s comfort zone.
Leadership adequacy – leaders are selected and trained according to their gifts and readiness, which leads to lack of autocracy. Different leaders are responsible for decisions in their area.
Freedom in choosing forms for each project and cluster.
Readiness to serve people outside the church, as well inside.
Ability to see children and youth as equal parts of the church and helping them develop their potential.

Thinking about the development of the Church of / for tomorrow, we need to bear in mind that the Church of / for tomorrow involves clusters working together because shared vision and relationships unite them. McNeal, describing Mike Breen’s English missional community, underlines the fact that ‘people began to prefer larger gatherings for mission even more than their small group experiences and started to hang out more in the clusters. Identity began forming around these mid-sized groups,… a sort of extended family. The communities began reproducing.’13

There are risks, which leaders should recognise: every cluster can easily become an independent church; competition between clusters can become a problem; different theologies can undermine unity.

At the same time, there are benefits, which are unlikely to be seen in other church models in Eastern Europe: an acceptance of people from different sub-cultures and language groups; involvement in ministry of larger numbers of church members; transformation in society, changes in individual lives, and ongoing church development.

It is too early to say that this model of church and mission is the best. However, it is clear that it has sound theological foundations, genuine relevance, and a promising future.
Vladimir Ubeivolc

Dr Vladimir Ubeivolc is director and co-founder of Beginning of Life NGO in Moldova. For many years he taught Ethics and Missiology in universities in Moldova and Russia, leading and speaking in conferences in former Soviet bloc countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. He holds a PhD in Contextual Missiology and is the author of numerous articles on holistic mission, human trafficking and social justice.

1. By “Eastern Europe” I have first in mind contemporary geopolitical divisions. Such countries as Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus are on the radar of my research. At the same time Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia and Armenia have a lot in common with the first group. Some conclusions could also include Russia.
2. E. Voegelin, ‘Representation and truth’ in The collective works of Eric Voegelin, v.5 (University of Missouri, 1952), 176.
3. C. Van Gelder & D. Zscheile, The Missional Church in Perspective. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2011), 147.
4. J. Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1981), 212.
5. M. Frost, The Road to Missional (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2011), 104.
6. A. Roxburgh & M.S. Boren, Introducing the Missional Church (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2009), 92-93.
7. Missional Church in Perspective, 156.
8. V. Ubeivolc, ‘Mission of Evangelical churches in Moldova. End of the twentieth to the first decade of the twenty-first century’ in Malancea M. & Ubeivolc V. (eds.) Evangelical Mission in the Eastern European Orthodox Contexts (Chişinău: Universitatea Divitia Gratiae, 2013), 130-137.
9. Introducing the Missional Church, 122.
10. W. Shenk, ‘Forging Theology of Mission from an Anabaptist Perspective’, in Mission Insight 13 (2000).
11. The Curtain Rises: Oral Histories of the Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2004), 204.
12. W. Sawatsky gives an excellent description what happened in the 1990s in his article ‘Return of mission and evangelization in the CIS (1980s – present)’ in Sawatsky W. & Penner P. (eds.) Mission in the Former Soviet Union (Neufeld, 2005), 94-119.
13. Missional Communities: The rise of the Post-Congregational Church (Jossey-Bass, 2011), 40.

Aspects of Urban Mission in Europe

November 21, 2012

Did you know Europe’s historic cities are only three per cent of the world’s land mass, and  could comfortably fit inside South Africa?  Nevertheless, European cities have had a disproportionately massive influence on the rest of the world, through both urban history and Christian identity.

Urban history

Harvie Conn says two of the four big ‘urban waves’ began in Europe.  In the second urban wave of commercial and feudal cities from the eleventh century, Europe’s walled cities gave protection to its citizens and enabled commerce that would takeover the world.  In today’s fourth wave of global cities, Europe’s great metropolitan areas of London, Paris and Berlin are linked. Rotterdam connects the Randstad of the Netherlands to the Rhine-Ruhr of Germany. There are urban corridors between London and Frankfurt and between Milan and Barcelona.  Europe’s sheer number of multinational companies, banks and organisations suggest it is still a continent of influence, if not inspiration.

Christian identity

Crucial points of development in the historic church have been in Europe. Think of Celtic Christianity, monastic mission movements, the Reformation and the World Missionary Conference in 1910, and today of church planting networks, the migration of new Christians and emerging churches.

Today, Europe is made up of about fifty sovereign states (mostly democratic republics), each with their own histories, cultures, languages and a wide spread of Christian traditions. Western Europe (Protestant/mixed) is different from Southern Europe (traditionally Roman Catholic), Nordic Europe (Lutheran), Eastern Europe (Orthodox) and Central Europe (largely atheist). Through migrant Christians, Pentecostalism is everywhere.  The contours of Europe’s map of faith is not so much being withdrawn as being redrawn.

Understanding urban ministry

Photo credit: European Commission

Today’s cities are a dazzling constellation of global cultures, a kaleidoscope that resembles a world atlas.  In the urban centres of Europe today, we meet the whole world. There is more Christian ministry going on in them than we usually give credit for, ranging from serving people in pain, developing leadership, community transformation, to church renewal and multiplication.

I believe that:

  • Christ is already present in the urban world. We do not bring Christ for the city. Cities have had their share of leaders with messiah complexes. In dark places is God’s presence.
  • Church is the agent of God’s mission in the city. God has not given up on his people, whether local churches or missions, new or old forms, European or African/Asian partners.
  • Cities are more of a gift than a problem. The city is a gift of grace. The church is often sick and unhealthy but where hurt and pain is engaged with there is hope of renewal.

Cities are extraordinarily successful and overwhelmingly destructive.  David Harvey’s recent book “Rebel Cities” is a Marxist critique of urbanism, and although secular, has more zeal for a healthy urban world than do many churches.

Though Europe is home to large numbers of Christians, we do not think spiritually about cities, either blaming them for what is wrong with the world or taking a glossy view that ignores its darker side.  Harvey’s critique, based on the work of sociologist Robert Park, is that cities are under the control of wealth producers who have dispossessed masses of people to any right to the city. Power is kept in the hands of small political and economic elites who shape the city after their own needs and heart’s desires.

Urban mission needs a similar but biblically informed critique if it is not to be condemned to putting patches on the sores of the broken in the city. Bible-believing Christians are increasingly aware that the Gospel is not only about personal sin and individual salvation, but are still slow to recognise public sin and corporate spirituality.

Lausanne III affirmed that there is a mission to the market place. Recently Dr. Chris Wright spoke about the Lausanne III commitments in the Netherlands and concluded with the urban mission commission.  Jeremiah 29:7 says “Seek the peace and prosperity (shalom) of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”  I never heard a European evangelical leader speak like that before.  So can our broken churches change peoples and cities?  This is the Gospel.

The Good News redeems people

All people are created in God’s likeness and they all need faith and life. We seek deep change. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2) The Gospel is not anti-urban but is transformative of people and worlds. Urban ministry serves and heals, prays and forgives, preaches and teaches, trains and empowers., reaching the parts of people that others (including Marxists) cannot reach.

The Good News redeems cities

God cared for Nineveh more than Jonah. Jesus cried over Jerusalem. What are cities but created human institutions and environments? A Church of England bishop recently spoke of his PhD entitled: “Can companies sin?” You can guess the answer!

All human structures are accountable to God and we need to call the city’s human service departments to serve the people they were intended for. We must confront principalities and powers through prayer and action. The city longs for human institutions and an urban environment that is liberated to serve. “Creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Romans 8:12)  Since Christ has overcome Satan, we can confront and call these structures to their true purpose.


1.   Harvie M. Conn and Manuel Ortiz, Urban Ministry, Downers Grove, IVP, 2001, 33-79.

2. David Harvey, Rebel Cities, London, Verso, 2012.

3. Urbanization is about the density of people whereas urbanism is about the values of the city. Urbanization has reduced space but urbanism has recreated it. Urbanization has condensed space but urbanism has conveyed it across the world.

4. “In 2010, 73% of Europeans live in urban areas. 72% of these urbanites adhere to Christianity. 49% of the fifty largest European areas have Christian majorities.” Todd M. Johnson, Kenneth R. Ross, eds., Atlas of Global Christianity, Centre for Study of Global Christianity, Edinburgh University, 2009, 248.

  Robert Calvert is minister of Scots International Church Rotterdam with more than forty nationalities.  Over the decade he has co-ordinated a European network for urban ministry practitioners. Robert organizes consultations and trails, supervises student placements and teaches on urban ministry.

“Theologizing” the City in Europe

November 7, 2012

The unprecedented phenomenon of urbanization since the European Industrial Revolution has gone global, and shows no sign of letting up. Today, more than half of humanity is in, or within the domain of, a city. European Urbanisation is currently over 75% and is predicted to reach 82%.

The Industrial Revolution produced an entirely new urban reality requiring new paradigms for church and mission. Since the end of the Second World War, a new form of the city, the post-industrial, postmodern, globally-connected megacity or global city, is proliferating worldwide. All indicators suggest that this wave of urban expansion represents more than a mere extension of the Industrial Revolution: the emergence of the megacity portends another fundamental metamorphosis in human sociology with its own set of spiritual perils, missiological challenges and opportunities.

Urban missiology in the developed world is woefully out-of-touch and out-of-sync with today’s city-builders, each out to create his/her own idea of urban paradise. Inadequate theologies of the city and consequent non-theological understandings of modern urbanization have stifled the growth of urban churches and movements in European cities, and contributed to the demise of urban Christianity.

Harvie Conn argued: “Current evangelical discussions, as rich as they are, largely orbit around a missiology of the city more than a theology of the city…. Our missiological vision for the city must also be a theological vision of the city.” These new urban phenomena require fresh theological reflection, missiological creativity, and united action if Christian mission is to address the unprecedented opportunities, as well as potential new levels and forms of hardship and conflict for city dwellers, generated by the emergence of global cities. Urban thinkers and actors must give priority to a re-examination of the biblical data with regard to the theological meanings of the city and their significance for Christian mission.

French city theology pioneer Jacques Ellul, in his groundbreaking The Meaning of the City (1970), demonstrated that the abundant biblical data with regard to cities – human and divine, temporal and eternal, as places of rebellion and of devotion, as objects of judgment and of blessing – are, in fact, evidences of a well-developed theology of the city. For Ellul this theology seems prophetically intended to aid the church in her understanding and practice of mission during this age of global urbanisation. Ellul is probably the first biblical commentator to truly “theologise” the city not as a metaphor of human culture (e.g., in the tradition of Saint Augustine’s The City of God, early fifth century), but as a concrete social reality (e.g., in the line of Lewis Mumford’s The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformation, and Its Prospects, 1961).

Ellul wrote: “We are in the city, and this is one of the most important facts of our generation. It is absolutely indispensable that we realize what that means for us, for our actual life: the undeniable presence and influence of the city are of infinitely greater importance than the urban problem itself…. If the Word of God is clearly marked out for us in our concrete situation, and if at the same time as it takes hold of us (for our condemnation and salvation) it enlightens our understanding of that situation, and if we are truly involved in the city and the Bible shows us what we are in the city for and what the city signifies for us and our relation to her, then all that we have learned should form the proper nucleus for a science of the city.”

It is precisely this spiritual and theological “science of the city,” which is begging to be nourished so that it might mature and bear fruit in the form of a thoroughly biblical and missional theology of the city. Such a theology of the city would be a sufficient foundation on which to build sound urban missiology, allowing for the discovery and development of new paradigms and strategies of mission to Europe’s urban centres.

Such a theology would ensure that the church-in-mission

… comprehend that the essence of the city is not a random collection of sociological phenomena under purely secular powers, but rather a profoundly spiritual entity – the locus of spiritual powers vying for the souls of men.

… rejoice in the knowledge that the Scriptures portray a merciful and loving Creator who progressively takes pains to accommodate man’s insistence on city-building and city-dwelling, sovereignly carving out spaces in cities where his redemptive purposes may operate in the midst of human rebellion and perversion.

… marvel at God’s sovereign election of the human city – the very symbol of man’s rejection of God, – as the epicenter of his salvific act in Christ and his ongoing loving actions in human history, and understand that God’s election has resulted in the localization of the conflict of the ages in the world’s cities.

… be liberated to be intentionally, proactively, and strategically present in the cities, to engage their inhabitants both intelligently and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

… might labour with the assurance that the fruits of mission among redeemed peoples of diverse nations and in their centers of culture, their cities, will have some kind of real continuity in the New Jerusalem, and therefore, have eternal value.

With such a renewed theology, might Christian mission to the global city, as Harvie Conn once conjectured, in fact “provide the contextual instrument for fulfilling David Bosch’s prediction of an emerging paradigm shift in the theology of mission for our day”?

Ben Beckner

Harvie Conn, 1993, “A Contextual Theology of Mission for the City,” in The Good News of the Kingdom: Mission Theology for the Third Millennium, eds. Charles van Engen, Dean S. Gilliland, Paul Pierson, Maryknoll, N, Orbis Books, p. 101.

Ellul, 1970, The Meaning of the City, Grand Rapids, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, p. 147-148.

Harvie M. Conn, 1994. “Introduction” in God So Loves the City: Seeking a Theology for Urban Mission, Charles Van Engen, Jude Tiersma, eds., Monrovia, California, MARC, p. v.

Benjamin Beckner, former urban church planter in several European cities and based in Lyon, France,
serves as professor of missiology, missions consultant, trainer and mobiliser for the church in French-
speaking Europe.

This article first featured in Issue 11 of Vista.
You can download the full pdf and previous issues here

Baptist Church Planting in Croatia

May 26, 2011

There have been Baptist churches in Croatia since the 1890s. Over the last 20-30 years the Croatian Baptist Union has doubled in size and the number of congregations in still increasing. At present there are 1,900 church members attending a total of 50 churches and mission stations. The size of what could be termed the ‘Baptist community’ is likely to be two or three times this size (when family members and children of officially registered ‘members’ are taken into consideration).

The Baptist Union currently has a church planting goal of seeing one Baptist congregation planted in every one of Croatia’s 21 counties. The European Baptist Federation’s Indigenous Mission Project reports on the work of a church planter in Novi Marof, about 100km from the capital, Zagreb. Twenty people are meeting regularly there for prayer and worship.

The IMP co-ordinator, Daniel Trusiewicz, writes:

‘The meetings take place in a rented hall and are led by indigenous church planter Jonatan. The group has been meeting there for about one year and a good deal of growth has been notified since. There are counseling sessions twice a week in the same hall where the group meets for a Bible study on Friday night. People can come to talk or find advice about some spiritual or practical issues.

Jonatan says: ‘There are only two reasons that prompt me to plant a church in Novi Marof: the Great Commission and God’s love towards lost people who need to be saved. The target group is especially the young people burdened with various problems (addictions, unemployment, depression etc). In order to accomplish this goal we have started the Christian counseling. This ministry serves all who need advice and encouragement, and who seek the true meaning of life.’ Jonatan is married to Daniela and they have two small children.

The church plant in Novi Marof is supported by the church in Varazdin, some 15km away. The church in Varazdin was itself planted only 15 years ago and now has a building seating 50 people with an apartment for the pastor. Varazdin enjoys an educated congregation that is mission-minded, hence their enthusiastic support for the church plant at Novi Marof plus another at Ivanec. There are 15000 inhabitants in the town of Novi Marof and the new group is the sole Evangelical fellowship there. In the region of Varazdin – Novi Marof there are about 200,000 people but only three Evangelical churches.’

Urban Church Planting in Europe

May 17, 2011

City to City – Europe‘ describes itself as a growing network of church plants and pastors throughout Europe with an annual meeting. The next meeting of the network takes place in Berlin between the 25-27th October, 2011 at the ‘Gospel and the City’ Conference.

Network members are working in major European cities, represent various denominations and minister in different urban contexts. The network  values an approach to effective urban ministry that applies the gospel to every aspect of life and church ministry and believes that church planting needs to be thoroughly contextualised. It appreciates secular culture while maintaining the historic confessions of the Christian faith. The network draws inspiration from the practical example of Redeemer Presbyterian Church and the teaching of Timothy Keller, founding pastor of this church.

The 2011 Conference is being opened up more widely and will include important input from European speakers including Dr. Stefan Paas of the Netherlands who will offer a comparative evluation of the main differences between European and American church planting in the urban context. For further details of the event, or to follow links to the City to City site, check out our ‘Events’ pages.