Getting the Job Done Through Church Partnerships
- posted by:
- posted in: EUROPE
- posted on: October 01, 2013
We believe that the global Great Commission is the task and responsibility of the Church. Therefore, partnering with local churches in North America is a top priority. Nothing excites us more than strategizing with churches to leverage the wide variety of resources within their congregations for the work of reproducing disciples and disciple-making churches in Europe. When this happens effectively, it's a win for the church and it's a win for the mission God has given to GEM.
One of our most advanced church partnerships continues to be with Fellowship Bible Church in the Atlanta metro area. GEM missionaries have been blessed for several years to have Pastor Tim Beard and his worship team at Annual Conference each August. This past summer, Tim was joined by his senior pastor, the honorable Dr. Crawford Lorritts (pictured right), who challenged and encouraged our entire mission body in ways only a seasoned ministry veteran can.
Pastor Tim was kind enough to provide an explanation (below) of the blessing GEM has been to Fellowship and to encourage other churches in North America to engage in the same kind of partnership. It has been a delight for us to know that the blessing we have received from Fellowship has been mutual.
My local church has always had a passion for world missions. Over the years, we have added over 30 missionaries to our support list. We “tithe” more than 10% of our church offerings to local and global missions and we send a few hundred from our church on short-term mission trips each year.
In the past few years however, many in our church leadership have sensed a growing burden for reaching Europe. We have come to understand that less than 1% of the European population overall would identify themselves as Evangelical Christians. We have learned of the great influx of immigrants who are converging on European cities, creating a unique window to reach the world by reaching the cities of Europe.
We have also felt that the Lord was directing us to focus our efforts on an individual city. Knowing of Greater Europe Mission’s (GEM) “50 in 5” initiative which is to focus on reaching 50 key European cities in 5 years, we began praying that the Lord would direct us to the city that He wanted us to be a part of reaching. After prayer and vision trips to some potential cities, the team unanimously believed that He was directing us to Cologne, Germany.
Our strategy was to partner with GEM team members already in Cologne by sending six short-term teams during the summer who would be involved in prayer-walking and street evangelism. We were also praying that from these team members, the Lord would raise up individuals or families who would commit, through partnership with GEM, to relocate to Cologne for at least three years. We would continue to send short-term teams for the next three years.
Having completed our first summer mission trips to Cologne (which you can read about HERE), the following are some things we are learning.
Benefits to the short-term team members:
- Team members return with a greater passion for sharing their faith here at home. Rather than being a “one and done” experience, most team members are not satisfied to return to life as usual. There is a greater passion for doing here what they were doing there. Team members feel more equipped to share their faith and have gained experience telling their stories and giving a clear explanation of the gospel.
- Team members return with a more global mindset. The gospel is to be shared to the remotest parts of the earth and our God wants to be glorified by all nations. Unfortunately, especially here in North America, we have a very myopic view of the Kingdom. Many of us only know our faith through a local context. Serving the gospel in Europe gives our team members a real-life glimpse of God’s plan for reaching the world. Team members are presented with opportunities to interact not only with European nationals, but also with first and second generation immigrants from all over the world.
- As a result of the short-term trips, some team members are sensing a call into fulltime, vocational ministry. As we had prayed, we now have at least three individuals and families who are sensing that God is calling them to continue in the efforts reach Cologne by moving there for at least three years. They are currently in the process of discerning this calling by moving forward with an application to become part of GEM.
Benefits to the entire church:
- The entire church is engaged in one form or another. As we launched what we called the “Cologne – OneLife at Time” initiative, we didn’t want the ministry to be limited to only those who would sign up for short-term trips. We engaged the entire body by giving everyone prayer bracelets to remind them to pray for Cologne daily. We have told stories in our worship services from short-term team members. We have shown pictures from a baptism of a young lady in Cologne who came to Christ as a result of our involvement. We have promoted the Cologne initiative throughout our building by displaying large posters. We dedicated the entire offering last Sunday to further the spread of the gospel in Cologne. Everyone in our church has an opportunity to be involved.
- Our members are challenged to step out of their comfort zones. As a result of stories from the trips, our congregation has been regularly challenged to be a part of what God is doing locally and globally. They are hearing real-life stories from “regular” people who are stepping out in faith to serve God in an unfamiliar, sometimes uncomfortable environment. They are hearing that 100% of those who engaged in our short-term trips this year have a desire to return to Cologne to continue the ministry.
We believe that it is the responsibility of the local church to fulfill the Great Commission. We believe that we should be directly involved with reaching the nations. We believe that it is no longer ok to outsource our responsibility to just a few. It is no longer ok just to “pray and pay” for our missionaries.
And we believe that there is a great opportunity for North American churches to partner with Greater Europe Mission to help reach 50 cities in 5 years. GEM will accomplish this vision only through church partnerships. May the Lord ignite a flame in our churches to help reach the world for Christ by reaching Europe for Christ. May He do that in our church and in yours.
Pastor, elder – Fellowship Bible Church, Roswell, GA
Countries: EUROPE, Germany
Categories: Church Planting, Evangelism / Discipleship