To make new believers

As part of the theme of this edition of Advent (Come Out of the Church), we could have interviewed a volunteer evangelist. Instead, we chose three people who are currently involved in church plants. They have each left their home church, together with fellow members, to start a brand new church community. Their goal? To make new believers.

Delyana Fautngiljanan from church plant FOCUS, in Arnhem-Zuid

Delyana Fautngiljanan
Delyana Fautngiljanan
Why plant a church?

‘We want to give people a service that’s 100% focused on them, and that fits their needs. FOCUS isn’t informal, it’s accessible!’

How big is your core team?

‘Three people and two coaches. We chose to stay small for a better dynamic.’

Who is your church plant trying to reach?

‘Family, friends, colleagues, fellow students, our neighbours in and around Arnhem-Zuid. Those who are interested, but don’t know God yet. FOCUS is for people of all ages.’

How are you doing this?

‘We’re using all our talents. We invite students from the conservatory to take part in the service. By singing Christian songs they are able to experience how wonderful it is to believe in a loving God. We also advertise in shops, on the street, in the newspaper, and on Facebook. Every year we organise a big FOCUS Gospel Concert to keep our name out there.’

What has helping to plant a new church required from you personally?

‘It takes a lot of work, but my enthusiasm has won out so far. FOCUS makes me very happy. When one service is done I’m already looking forward to the next.’

What positive things have you experienced?

‘Because of FOCUS my own faith is stronger. Visitors ask critical questions that keep sending me on intense searches in the Bible, or to ask for help from our coaches. I see visitors changing and growing in faith. FOCUS is blessed with many talented visitors, who are prepared to help with the service. So we now have a FOCUS choir, a FOCUS kids choir, and a FOCUS mime group. People leave positive messages in our guest book. It makes us feel like our mission is a success.’

What has been most difficult?

‘I find it very difficult when fellow believers don’t understand the vision and mission of a church plant, and give negative feedback while they themselves aren’t doing anything in the field of evangelism. We’ve learnt a lot from the challenges we have already faced. It keeps me sharp.’

Fabian Baromeo from church plant Speranza, in Lelystad

Fabian Baromeo
Fabian Baromeo
Why plant a church?

‘Because we want to build up God’s kingdom in Lelystad.’

How big is your core team?

‘Our core team has seven members.’

Who is your church plant trying to reach?

‘The multicultural society in Lelystad.’

How are you doing this?

‘On the last Sabbath of every month we hold an open house. After the service, we transform the church hall into a stylish restaurant. Visitors from local neighbourhood and beyond (around 100 people) are offered an encouraging sermon and a finger-licking good, three-course meal. Afterwards, we turn the ‘restaurant’ into a cinema and watch a Christian film (with around 50 visitors). We pray together, and close the Sabbath together. We also organise health seminars and other special programmes, like an Easter breakfast, Christmas concert, camps, and multicultural days’.

What has helping to plant a new church required from you personally?

‘It’s a big sacrifice in every way. It takes time from my family, and it is a lot of work to study and prepare for the meetings and Bible studies. In addition to my full-time job, I also drive at least three times a week from my home to Lelystad.’

What positive things have you experienced?

‘I experience how Jesus truly loved people, and won them for his kingdom. Dealing with different people requires a lot of patience, fasting, praying, speaking with understanding, good listening, helpfulness, and especially humility. These are the positive experiences I will take away.’

What has been most difficult?

‘When a member of the core team steps down, or when a regular visitor stops coming.’

 

Jessica Melfor-Frans from church plant E Oasis, in Schiedam

Jessica Melfor-Frans, E Oasis.2016Why plant a church?

‘Because we want to make a difference in the lives of Papiamentu speakers in Schiedam. Lots of people from the Caribbean live here, and we want to bring them the gospel in their own language.’

How big is your core team?

‘We started with ten people, but right now we’re restructuring our team.’

Who is your church plant trying to reach?

‘People from the Caribbean.’

How are you doing this?

‘On the last Wednesday of every month we throw a ‘Matthew party’ – a chance to invite non-Christian friends and acquaintances – with a different activity every time. Sometimes it’s an informational session on a particular theme (for example ‘the four temperaments’ or ‘learning how to handle money’). Sometimes they’re social evenings where we do crafts or Zumba. The invitations are on our Facebook Page.

We work together with an Antillean foundation. When the neighbourhood organises an event that doesn’t clash with our beliefs, we take part. During these activities we try to make new contacts by starting conversations with people. By doing this we were able to have our own stall at the Food Festival, where people could try food from all different cultures for very little money.’

What has helping to plant a new church required from you personally?

‘A well-structured life of prayer and devotion. It takes time and energy to do this on top of my full-time job.’

What positive things have you experienced?

‘I’ve noticed a change in my own character. I’ve learnt to deal with different people, and to respect their opinions. I’ve learnt to be responsible because others depend on me. My circle of friends keeps growing.’

What has been most difficult?

‘Sometimes it’s difficult to find the right balance between my private life and leadership of the church plant. But I see it as a challenge, and I let God take the reins. The world is hungry for the word. It’s an honour to do God’s work, and to serve him by leading this church plant’.

 

This article is a translation of one of the articles published in Advent: Kom uit de kerk!

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