In the western world, church planting tends to run by an established model. But have you ever wondered ehow churches are planted in countries without a model to follow? What about in countries without an established church tradition? How do you start a church when most of the population has little or no Christian connection?
In East Asia, one couple got the opportunity to be part of a new church plant. Of course, they did not realise it at first. The pastor of a small local church approached the couple to help some young members of his small church start an English club. They hoped that the club would be a stepping-stone to bring people into a new Bible study they were starting about the same time. Once a week, between eight and nine young Christians from the church would meet with the OMF couple to learn English at the club. Local Asian people hoping to learn English began to join the group. The opportunity to learn English from a ‘white face’ was just too good to ignore.
The session followed a regular routine. The couple would give a talk lasting between 15 and 20 minutes on any topic that prompted discussion.
They spoke about all sorts of things; the nature of love, the meaning of Easter, and even physics got a mention!
Next, those attending broke into smaller groups to discuss the topic, where they had a chance to practice their English.
One young Christian would lead each group, directing conversation and making friends with the non-Christians attending. Not only did the smaller groups provide a way for relationships to develop, but the discussion topics lent themselves towards allowing Christians to share their faith. The group was so successful that they decided to start meeting on Sunday afternoons, as well as midweek. The Sunday meetings were still English lessons, but they also began to take the form of Bible studies. The non-Christians attending had the chance to develop their English while discovering more about the faith the young Christians had shared during their discussion times. Through these Bible studies, the English club members started to give their lives to Jesus.
As more and more people became Christians, the Bible study developed into a Sunday morning meeting. It was the start of a new church. Who would have thought that God would use an English club to start a new church? Today, the club has evolved into a church of about 250 students and young professionals led by a permanent local pastor. They even have their own building! The couple who were part of the English club are members of the church, working under the leadership of the local pastor. The English club still runs, now with about 60 weekly attendees.
One cross-cultural worker estimates the English club has seen about 1,300 people come through its doors, many of whom have came to faith in Christ and attend the church. God can use anything to grow his church.