Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Coming "Full Circle" Church Planting

This article is a guest subission by our International Worker partner, Mark Byrom. He and his family serve in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

When I heard that East Hills Alliance is seeking to plant a new church, my mind immediately went to my years growing up in a church plant in Ohio. It was during this time, as a new church meeting in the local YMCA, that God began my call to go overseas. It was so exciting to see new people coming to Christ and joining in with us. During times when international workers visited our church, it was natural to realize a passion to support cross-cultural outreach to the far corners of the world.

It is interesting that the living-out of church planting locally easily focused us on what God was doing overseas. It was natural to put the two sides of the Great Commission together, our local "Jerusalem" in Ohio, and the "ends of the Earth" where our international workers planted new churches.

To reach the ends of the Earth requires that we grow locally. One of the best ways to multiply outreach is in the midst of a healthy local church family. The natural progression in realizing our place in the world, as new Christ followers, is to start realizing how lost the entire world actually is. A few years ago our Alliance Team in Bosnia-Herzegovina was teaching church leaders about the Great Commission and how it is natural as new churches develop, that they work towards a focus on cross cultural missions.

We thought it interesting to find that this year a group of relatively new churches in Bosnia have started to catch the vision. Our Bosnian pastor friend, Sasha Nikolinovic, put feet to the Great Commission. This fall his church in Sarajevo sent their first short-term missions team to the country of Turkey, a place where Bosnians can freely enter without visa requirements. They went and encouraged a Turkish pastor, who leads a congregation in one of the most unreached countries in the world.

One of our goals in the Alliance is to help establish indigenous church planting movements that truly embrace the call of Christ to impact the world. This is a "full circle" vision; establishing new churches in an unreached country, which will one-day send their own church planters to other countries. It’s exciting to see our Bosnian brothers and sisters taking their first steps toward realizing their role in reaching some of the darkest regions. As East Hills Alliance takes steps to multiply, it is natural to envision establishing a church planting church in Longview.

It really is true! We spur each other on, as we work to spread the Gospel. I think it will be easy to find strong encouragement from Bosnian believers for what East Hills is looking to do locally, as you, at the same time, continue to encourage Bosnian pastors to have a similar vision to reach out in their country. May the Lord grow His Church through networking of church families worldwide! This rings true to the relationship between East Hills Alliance Church in Kelso, Washington and churches it is blessing and helping to establish across the globe in Bosnia and Herzegovina!

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