I attended a conference in Berlin last week on starting churches in the city. Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Church in NYC, was the guest speaker.
The primary reason for this conference was to discuss Church Planting in the cities of Europe. We saw a few videos of CP going on in some of the major cities in western Europe. It is always exciting to be able to hear what God is doing in other places.
When I moved back to Ukraine, specifically Kiev, in 2003, I had asked my supervisor to allow me to work in the the cities/ villages around Kiev. I didn’t think I wanted to work in the city. From my experience in Lugansk from 1994-1996, I knew that it was much “easier” to work in smaller towns and villages. Kiev was a beast of a city and I really didn’t have much in me to work there.
Saying that, I thoroughly enjoyed working with a new church plant in the far northeast part of Kiev. It felt more manageable and, looking back, I should have been more willing and open to work in the city. The church, Grace, that I worked with in Kiev has become one of the brightest spots in the work in Kiev and they have now planted 2 more churches and looking to start a third!
Fast forward to 2010. I moved to Donetsk after months of praying and seeking God’s will. After looking at the options presented to me, and as I prayed, I saw God’s will in me moving to Donetsk. Donetsk is a city with around 1 million inhabitants. My apartment is located in the center of the city.
One of my goals this year has been to get out into the community where I live and get to know the people who work, live and play here. I must admit that I have done a much better job in getting to know the people who work here than those who live here.
This conference has brought me full circle to realize that the city is where I need to be for now. I love the energy and the diversity of living in the center.
Tim Keller closed the session on Urban Churches by sharing several characteristics. The first one was to have a strong appreciation of the city and to help people appreciate it. Another characteristic was the integration of faith and work. We have to find ways to help people be a Christian all week.
I really appreciated what he had to say about this. In the culture in which I live, I see that the longer a person is a Christian, the more they get away from sharing their Christian lives with those with whom they work or come into contact with often.
My view has definitely changed about working in the city. I absolutely love the city where I live and work.