Developing New Strategies for Church Planting

Church planters X-Change participants in Riga, 2004
Church planters X-Change participants in Riga, 2004
Church planters from Tukums, Latvia. Riga, 2004
Church planters from Tukums, Latvia. Riga, 2004
Giedrius Rimša with his wife Šarune, from Lithuania. Riga, 2004
Giedrius Rimša with his wife Šarune, from Lithuania. Riga, 2004
Kärt Vahtramäe and Trunu Tuvi from Estonia. Riga, 2004
Kärt Vahtramäe and Trunu Tuvi from Estonia. Riga, 2004
Church planters from the UK. Riga, 2004
Church planters from the UK. Riga, 2004

Riga, LATVIA. [BAUC News/ANR] — More than one hundred church planters met together in Riga, Latvia, to share their experiences and learn new ways of sharing their faith with secular people. These meetings were organised by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Baltic region and Peter Roennfeldt, Ministerial Association Secretary & Global Mission Coordinator for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Trans-Europe region. (TED).

Church planting teams from London and Helsinki attended in order to exchange ideas with pastors and church planting teams from the Baltic countries. “It is very important that we keep establishing new churches to reach new groups of people for Christ,” explains Peter Roennfeldt, coordinator for Church Planting in the TED, “no one church can reach every person in a city or a town. We have found that if we develop many new groups and church plants, we can reach new groups of people. We want to establish proper, viable Adventist churches through the work of church planters, therefore we examine every method, including a lot of new methods of doing this work.” Roennfeldt continues, “‘X-Change’ is to inspire people with the idea of church planting; to train groups of people from particular areas and to prepare project plans for church planting. So it’s not just talk, it’s actually hard-work, getting a plan organised.”

When asked about their learning experience at ‘X-Change’ in Riga, Atte Helminen, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Finland said, “A group from Hope community, London, England, inspired us with their method of being part of the community. If we cannot meet some of the needs of the community we will not be able to meet the spiritual needs of the people. I also realize how the vision of church planting has inspired many groups in the Baltic region and they are excited about their new vision. I believe this event was an eye opener for many new church planters present. There will be many new churches planted in the near future. The Lord is good!”

“We learned the necessity of careful planning,” said church planter group «Fellowship» from Latvia. “We want to have this sort of conference in Lithuania, too,” said pastor Giedrius Rimsa, Field Secretary for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Lithuania, “this method works even in the Baltics! We not only learned about Christianity, we experienced it,” he added. “We had lots of inspiration. We are confident, that we can actually turn new ideas into reality and reach so many people. This event was marvellous! All the people were amazing and our God is a great God!” said Kärt Vahtramäe, Pathfinder Leader, and Trunu Tuvi, Assistant Youth Leader from Tartu, Estonia. “We can reach unchurched people only if we love them as deeply as we love Jesus,” concluded Bobby Bovell one of the church planter team from the UK. All the participants emphasized friendship and uplifting testimonies as one of the main characteristics of this church planter ‘X-Change’.

Church planting is proving effective in reaching secular people in western and northern Europe. The church is working to provide church planters with necessary resources. One such tool is the LIFEdevelopment.info initiative. “LIFEdevelopment.info is a process of working with people,” explains Peter Roennfeldt. “This is a seven-step process. It is closely tied with the kinds of strategies that many church plants have established, so we first of all meet with people, we get connected with people, we build friendships in the community, and then we have the opportunity of sharing with those people a little bit of who we are, and what we stand for, and then as time goes on, these people want to know more and more. So we have strongly promoted LIFEdevelopment.info as part of the church planting initiative in the TED.”

Guntis Bukalders / ANR,
Baltic Union Conference Communication Director

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