As an introduction to church planting in Europe I wanted to give a little background of where I have been.
I came from an atheistic home and knew nothing of God until I was 25. When God revealed himself to my wife, Teresa, and I, we began a journey that we never would have imagined. For 8 years after coming to Christ I would hear missionaries at our yearly mission’s conference tell their exciting stories. But I loved my job and was not planning to be a missionary any time soon. But God had other plans. In the beginning of 1990 we went to seminary and there in my second year God revealed to me that church planting was what I would do for him. The third year of my Masters, God told Teresa and I that Russia would be where He wanted us. It was the first of 1994 when we arrived with our 3 little kids. It was very cold, minus 25C, and the people seemed even colder.
As always God showed up and helped us to love the Russians and to connect with local guys, first in Moscow, then across Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. We helped with training church planters, trainers of church planters, created a curriculum for training and getting women to pray for church planting and evangelism. God took our team as well as local men and women on a wonderful ride that has seen more then 1,000 churches planted across these 3 countries and several others. In 2001 we were asked to help with a vision of seeing 300 churches planted among the Muslims of Central Asia. That lasted until 2012 with 374 new churches and almost 10,000 coming to Christ and becoming members of these new fellowships.
In the fall of 2012 Redeemer City to City invited us to come and help expand church planting across Central and Eastern Europe. Redeemer Church is pastored by Tim Keller in New York City and has a worldwide vision for planting churches in the major urban centers of the world. As of today they have helped plant 388 churches in 45 of the largest and most influential cities of the world.
Our job as church planting catalysts is to cast vision for church planting, access potential church planters, equip them, help build gospel eco-systems that bless the city to prosper, initiate faith and work ministries and help the church minister to those who are in need.
We work out of Berlin with our territory being the major cities located from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea along the Eastern, Central, and Northern parts of Europe. Most of these countries are post-communist and have had few churches planted in the last 25 plus years since the fall of Communism. Poland for example, has less then .05% Evangelicals. The city of Krakow, 850,000, has 15 small churches with a total of about 1,000 members. We see this in many of the countries we work in. Moscow has 17,000,000 with almost 5,000,000 Central Asian Muslims but few churches reaching out to anyone. The cool thing is that people are starting to understand that cities are where the people are and we need to be reaching them.
Many have begun to understand what Tim Keller and others have been writing and talking about. It seems strange that the Apostle Paul went to cities but we abandoned this with church planting movements among unreached people groups. But today the unreached live in the cities of the world! Muslims are coming to the cities of Europe. Our job is to refocus on the city as it will influence the countries it resides in. Over the next 25-30 years cities will house more then 70% of the world’s population. It is already over 54% and growing by 5,000,000 people a month.