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New book on Church Planting in Europe

June 24, 2015

Church Planting in EuropeOrder now

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About Church Planting in Europe

Church leaders and those who endeavor to plant new churches in Europe today face tremendous challenges, not least because the church itself is considered by many to be outdated, irrelevant, or even an abusive sect. Drawing on a wealth of experience, Church Planting in Europe helps to answer the question of how churches can become more relevant to the societies in which they exist.

From biblical and missiological reflections to case studies and practical examples, the book gives insights into many of the key issues that church planters and those concerned with “”missionary”” renewal of existing churches are grappling with. Special attention is paid to the sociocultural and religious characteristics of Europe, which is marked by secularization, new forms of spirituality, and a unique Christian heritage, asking, what are typical barriers and bridges for the communication of the gospel?

The contributors represent a wide variety of backgrounds and contexts across Europe and this is reflected in the breadth of topics covered. The chapters were presented during the Mission in Europe Symposium in Belgium (July 2014), and the highlights of the discussions afterwards are also included. The result is a valuable resource for church leaders, mission practitioners, and theologians alike.

“Evert Van de Poll and Joanne Appleton’s Church Planting in Europe is a timely book on a neglected subject. We find reflections on the biblical foundations, the European context, the church planters, and some case studies. It is recommended reading for theoreticians and practitioners.” —Hannes Wiher, Assistant Professor of Missiology at the Faculte libre de theologie evangelique de Vaux-sur-Seine (Paris), and at the Faculte Jean Calvin at Aix-en-Provence (France).

“A helpful introduction to contemporary thinking and practice among European evangelicals involved in church planting, combining biblical reflection, cultural analysis, and missional resources, illustrated with case studies from different nations.”  Stuart Murray, author of Church Planting: Laying Foundations

“This publication gives new insights into the complexity of churches in Europe coping with societies who are based on a pluralistic attitude toward religion. It is a good choice to combine the different perspectives of theology and mission strategies with examples of cultural contextualization and the struggle of practical implementations in different local situations. This book stimulates further discussions on the level of mission organizations, but also in the practice of the personal dialogue.” Pieter Boersema, Professor of Religious Studies and Missiology, Evangelische Theologische Faculteit, Leuven, Belgium

About the authors
Evert Van de Poll lives in France, where he is pastor with the French Baptist Federation and involved in church development. He is professor of religious science and missiology at the Evangelical Theological Faculty in Leuven, and a mission consultant teaching in various countries.

Joanne Appleton is a writer and researcher interested in mission and church planting in Europe, and coeditor of Vista.

Vista 20: ‘Set my people free’ – human trafficking and exploitation in Europe

January 24, 2015

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says: “Let my people go, so that they may worship me.”  Exodus 9:1

trafficking pictureIn 2007 Mauritania became the last country in the world to abolish slavery. Or so read the headlines at the time. But making slavery illegal does not make it disappear, and we don’t have to go to Africa to find it.

This edition of Vista takes on the thorny issue of slavery in Europe: people trafficking and forced labour.  Our lead article is by Jennifer Tunehag, an expert who has spent more than a decade helping victims and campaigning on this vital issue. She sets out the dimensions and the dynamics of people trafficking with authority and clarity.

Darrell Jackson has written a very thought- provoking article on the missiological aspects of human trafficking. He asks some challenging questions about the engagement of evangelicals in this area, in particular as it relates to forced labour.

I have contributed a short piece on the statistical challenges associated with this topic and highlighted the huge discrepancy between the number of victims registered by the EU (around 30,000) and the 880,000 that are estimated to exist.  And Jo Appleton has pulled together a set of resources to allow you to investigate the issues further.

It is shocking to think that there are men, women and children in slavery in many of the liberal social democracies of today’s Europe. The church must engage with this enormous challenge, to speak to the Pharaohs of our age on behalf of the oppressed.  But the victims live in many of our towns and cities and, in the name of Christ, we must do what we can to find and help “to set the captives free.” (Luke 4:18)

Jim Memory

Download Vista_Issue_20_Jan_2015

 

Yeast in the East: 25 years after the Wall came down

October 31, 2014

Berlin wallThe kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” (Matt. 13:33)

The parable of the leaven is one of the shortest of Jesus parables but one of the most powerful. It’s diminutive size, just nineteen words in the original Greek, seems to echo it’s message: that God’s Kingdom may seem small, invisible even, but given time it has such power that all around it is transformed.

Those who were privileged to observe the events of 25 years ago in Berlin and across Eastern Europe saw an extraordinary transformation unfold before their very eyes. All-powerful regimes crumbled before the irresistible force of individual acts of faith and courage.

As we approach the 25th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on the 9th of November, the editors of Vista wanted to dedicate this issue to the events of that momentous year and its enduring impact on mission, particularly in the East. But to do it justice we felt it best to invite an older brother who was active in mission at the time to serve as guest editor.

We are truly grateful to Jeff Fountain who has not only contributed the lead article, but has drawn together most of the content through his network of contacts of those who were eye-witnesses to the transformative power of the yeast in the East!

Our prayer is that this issue of Vista encourages you to believe in the transforming power of the gospel of the Kingdom in today’s Europe; and that we might show the same faith and courage as the Christians of the East a generation ago.

Jim Memory

Vista Issue 19 Oct 2014

Church Planting Movements in Europe

August 12, 2014

Vista 18 Catching a wave: church planting movements in EuropeDefinitions are not fixed. The meanings of words are always in movement—even the word “movement” itself.

Although it was David Garrison’s work on church planting movements (CPMs) which both popularized the phrase and set off the search for generalizable principles drawn from CPMs around the world, it was Roland Allen who first drew attention to the Spontaneous Expansion of the Church and the Causes which Hinder it (1927).

Certainly the language of “movement” has become very popular in recent years. Authors and conference speakers often refer to “missional movements” or “kingdom movements”. Yet it is worth remembering that Roland Allen kept the church at the centre the vision for growth.

Yet here in Europe does it make any sense at all to talk about CPMs at all? Joanne Appleton’s lead article seeks to answer that question. Drawing on conversations with leaders of rapidly reproducing churches and “kingdom movements” she raises a number of crucial issues for reflection.

The remainder of this issue of Vista is given over to case studies of European church planting movements. Darrell Jackson tells the story of the development of a vision for church planting in a traditional denomination, the European Baptist Federation. It is followed by an interview with Peter J Farmer, an influential leader in the Simple Church network.

We then look at two ways in which a mission agency, specifically ECM, the European Christian Mission, has contributed to church multiplication. The first is my own story of supporting a collaborative church planting in the south of Spain. And Stephen Bell concludes the edition with a story of revival in the Balkans where ECM served as a channel for Brazilian and Ukrainian missionaries to support churches.

Download Vista 18 here

Jim Memory

Vista 17: The Cross over Europe

May 3, 2014

The Cross above EuropeIn my experience there are two common fallacies on mission in Europe. The first sees all Europeans as broadly the same: all of Europe is said to be thoroughly secularized, or pagan, or devoid of vibrant Christian witness. The second considers the context of each nation or region as so unique that only those who have a deep appreciation of the language, history, culture and religious traditions of that place can possibly engage in authentic Christian mission. The first ignores European diversity and the second disregards Europe’s many common features. And when it comes to mission the first makes few allowances for contextualization whilst the second blinds us to opportunities to learn lessons from elsewhere.

As Alexander Dumas once said, “All generalizations are dangerous, even this one.” The problem, of course, is not the making of generalizations. We all do that as a step in our learning. The problem is turning those generalizations into absolutes so we don’t have think any further. But the opposite can also occur, where localisms are turned into absolutes, so that our thinking is closed to outside influences.

This edition of Vista seeks to trace a middle way between those two dangers. Evert van de Poll’s lead article explores some of Europe’s common regional features and this is followed by four responses, one from each of Europe’s four “corners”.

Vija Herefoss, writing from Norway, takes Evert to task for some of his generalizations of Scandanavia. Chris Ducker brings a Slavic perspective. Stephen March writes from the view of Catholic Europe and Kostake Milkov gives us a Balkan angle. Each emphasises the importance of understanding history and culture in contemporary Christian mission.

So whichever “corner” of Europe we are from, all of us can learn something if we are willing to reflect deeply on these stories of contextual mission in Europe today. And that is no sweeping generalization.

Download Issue Number 17 The Cross above Europe

Jim Memory


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