Submitted by John Thompson,
Director: Eastern Europe & Beyond for Christ and
Director: New Eastern Europe for Christ
Meeting Convened in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia at the Baptist Church - October 30 -31, 1996.
Participants Present - National Slovakian Leaders representing 5 evangelical Christian Denominations (Baptist -2, Brethren, Methodist, Apostolic) along with mission agency leaders, missionaries working in Slovakia, church planting trainers (Alliance) and others sharing a common vision for the evangelization of Slovakia and Central Europe. (About 40 people in total).
The meeting was initiated and encouraged by the efforts of New Eastern Europe For Christ (NEEFC) directed by Pavle Cekov. He has been working in Slovakia since 1991 when NEEFC was birthed by the AD2000 & Beyond Movement. He also serves as the AD2000 Regional Coordinator for Eastern Europe. Pavle has established credible and broadly based relationships with many church leaders and agencies throughout Slovakia and Eastern Europe.
Many of these leaders believe that God is changing hearts in His church and bringing greater unity and cooperation across denominational boundaries. Recognizing that the Spirit of God is the author of this new desire to work together, the leaders and participants agreed to hold this meeting. Their desire was to assess how they might cooperate more strategically toward a common vision, strategy and process to reach Slovakia (and Central Europe) with the Gospel message and plant new churches throughout the region.
To assess the current church planting movements in Slovakia among 5 major evangelical denominations and determine what the Lord is saying to His church about working together toward a common vision using shared strategies and resources.
The primary questions was, "Can we work together toward the fulfillment of the Great Commission in Slovakia and Central Europe"? And if so, how?
Each denominational leader gave a report of their current church planting status and their goals for the next few years. They also reported on the challenges they are encountering and some solutions to overcome those obstacles.
Most came with attitudes of openness toward seeing something new and being involved in a greater move of God in building His church. Several gave exhortations at periodic internals during the day to build faith and expectation that the task might be achievable and certainly worthy of making every reasonable effort toward carrying it forward.
The NEEFC Director (Pavle) then challenged the participants to discuss the vision of "Planting a church in every town and village over 1000 people in Slovakia (and Central Europe) in one generation". Initially, that meant planting 5,500 new churches in Slovakia! (currently, there are 155 churches spread across the 5 denominations). After more analysis, it was determined that to achieve this goal, at least 7800 churches would need to be planted and an additional 1200 spread around the larger cities, making the final total closer to 9000 churches! Pavle provided the participants with a list of every city in Slovakia with over 10,000 people which do not have any known evangelical work. He also prepared two maps with every city identified so that they could easily visualize the task at hand. A strategy was also presented which parallels the JP2000 strategy but with national focus.
Can we or should we adopt such a goal? The afternoon discussion was centered on this question. Issues of training new workers, mobilizing existing churches, finding new financial resources, and communicating / assessing progress were discussed in depth. Each denominational leader answered questions from the group concerning these areas which led to a lively and stimulating discussion.
Further discussion commenced on the topics of (1) What is a church? (2) How many towns / villages need new churches? (3) How long is one generation? A subsequent discussion ensued on the topic of what goal, if any, should be targeted for the year 2000?
The participants took the following actions and agreed to implement them during this next year:
NEEFC is now in a unique position to ACT (by request of the Evangelical Council). They are invited to help fill a void of assisting in the formation of cooperative partnerships. They can also encourage, network and serve national leaders in Central Europe who have vision for their nation and region.
By whatever named it may be called, this consultation demonstrated again that God has not forgotten Central and Eastern Europe. He has and is placing these people on the hearts of many of his leaders. He is giving His Body a new willingness and desire to work together to achieve the common vision within their generation.
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