Church Planting

Counting Down...

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4 weeks from today (July 30), I will be on a plane with 23 others bound for Panama City, Panama to meet up with 26 other Minnesotans already down there!  By then, so many more details will be hammered out and plans laid.

That week, it will be all about implementation.  We are expecting anywhere from 5,000-7,000 girls to attend a girls conference as part of the government's first attempts to deal with their human trafficking problem.  The Panama Canal is becoming well-known for its role in the sex trafficking industry.  This conference has the potential to create a movement of  governments worldwide being proactive about ending sex trafficking (the second largest global organized crime today) in their countries as well.

2 months from today (September 2), Go Life Church will be launched in Gothenburg, Sweden!  Go Life is one of EuropeAdvance's newest church plants.  Gothenburg is an urban harbor city. Inner city Gothenburg has a population of 500,000 and greater Gothenburg has 1 million inhabitants and is the 2nd largest city in Sweden.  The population grows by 2-3% each year! It’s a young and hip university city.  The inner city is home to lots of high tech, media and innovative companies, which is surrounded by bigger industries.  Gothenburg is known for companies like SKF, Volvo and Hasselblad.

The percentage of confessing Christians (Catholics, Orthodox, Lutheran and Free Church) in all of Sweden is 4%.  Sunday church attendance is 1%.  According to the “World Survey,” Sweden is the most secularized nation in the world.  In Sweden, more than one church is shut down a week!  But Swedes are more open than ever.  Gothenburg is strategically located between three capitol cities within only a few hours drive: Oslo, Norway; Copenhagen, Denmark; and Stockholm, Sweden!  The time has never been more right to plant a church in Gothenburg to reach the northern part of Europe!

There are some other exciting things in the mix, but I will save those for another time.  :)  I don't know about you, but there's just something about a countdown, about looking forward to something on the calendar, that's kind of a big deal.  For those of us planners, sometimes a countdown is one of our greatest motivators and 'energizers.'  But if we are only living for the countdowns, for the BIG events on the horizon, it can be so easy to miss what's in store for us today, and tomorrow, and the day after that, and all the other days before the big event.  Between now and July 30th, there are 28 days that hold the same potential as July 30th.  May I (we) wake up each morning with the same expectation for what today holds as we do the days that are circled on our calendars.  EVERY day is a gift.

My New Role

Yes, what if for every 100 churches started in Europe, 95 of them were thriving and truly reaching their communities?!  What if every European city had churches where people could feel a true sense of belonging and community, and find their value and eternal purpose in life? There’s just one missing link – resources.  I know, most people think of Europe as one of the wealthiest places on earth, and it is in many ways.  But, let’s be honest, when only 14% of the population goes to church regularly, starting a church, or becoming a pastor, is not a priority on people’s list of things to do, nor is supporting the church (especially  when only 11% of people have any confidence in the church).

In order to create the kind of life-giving churches European pastors long to see in their cities, they hunger for mentors who can help them with pastoral, strategic and leadership issues.  They want to be able to send their people to intern at life-giving churches that are successful at reaching the lost so that they can capture the DNA of these churches and bring it home with them.  They would love to have access to media resources and printed materials translated into their own language.

I believe so strongly that the American church has the resources to help the church in Europe.  We have such an abundance of pastors and mentors, strategies for reaching people, leadership resources, media resources and so much more.  Truly the hopelessness that so many Europeans are experiencing in life today could be remedied by resources that our churches already have here in the U.S.

All that is needed is for someone to stand in the gap.  Someone who can help develop a stronger relationship between Europe and the U.S. in order to facilitate the sharing of resources, which would enable churches in Europe to have the same kind of 95% success rate that we have here.

And that’s what I’ve decided to do.  I’ve become a full-time missionary so that I can dedicate my time and energy to making it possible for the sharing of all the resources I have access to here in the States.  We’re called to be of one heart and mind so that the whole world will know who Jesus really is. (John 17:21)  This is not Europe’s problem, this is our problem.

If this is something that you’re interested in being a part of, I would love to have your support!  I’m not just in need of financial support, I truly need prayer support as well.  You can also help support this effort by connecting me with other people who might be able to help either financially or in prayer.  Or you may know places that I can go to speak.  Perhaps you could network for me by following me on Twitter and Facebook.  As you think of things that might be helpful to me, and what God has me doing right now, please let me know.  I would greatly appreciate any support you are able to give me! :)

Why Church Planting

Over the last year and a half, I’ve gotten to serve and work at Substance Church (St. Paul, MN, USA), which in 2010 was the 21st fastest growing church in the United States.  Weekly, people literally give their lives to Christ as they encounter a community of people who love Jesus and love each other.  Recently, we had a guy come to our Tuesday night service who’d been out of prison for 2 days and he not only gave his life to Christ, but he encountered the love of God in ways that he never imagined was possible!  And we just had a guy whose one eye had been blind since birth receive sight in it for the first time ever after receiving prayer at our Tuesday night service! Substance was started with the help of a church planting ministry called ARC .  New churches are truly one of the most effective ways of reaching people who don’t yet believe in Jesus.  But starting a church is also one of the most challenging things in the world to do.  95 out of every 100 new churches doesn't make it.  But, out of the churches that have been started with the help of ARC, 95 out of 100 not only MAKE IT, but they are literally thriving and reaching new people with the life-giving message of Jesus every week all over the US!

What if this could be the reality for new churches in Europe today?!  I mean in Europe, people literally don’t know that God is relevant for their life today and actually real.  They do not have church communities that they can walk into and have a home, have authentic relationships with people who genuinely care about them, have a place where they can get prayer, and have places to literally encounter the Body of Christ.  What if 95 out of 100 new churches were not only making it in Europe, but were literally thriving and reaching new people with the life-giving message of Jesus every week?

The hope and prayer of Europe Advance, which is similarly working with new churches in Europe, is that the 95% success rate can be reached in Europe as well!  The Church really is God's plan to reach the world with the Good News today.