PERM (RUSSIA) – On September 7 to 9, New Testament Church of Perm hosted Evangelical Christians from all over Russia at the Russian church of Christians of Evangelical Faith Conference. Verse 18, chapter 16 of Matthew has become a conference theme: “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”.
Russian and foreign ministers of evangelical churches were among the speakers: Head Bishop of the Russian church of Christians of Evangelical Faith Edward Grabovenko, his deputies Vassily Evchik and Pavel Zhelnovakov, pastor of Trinity Church from Texas, USA Jim Hennessy, Assemblies of God missionaries Andy Raatz and Robert Shipley and others. They spoke about building up the church, about confrontation and challenges that the church faces. The key message of all sermons and two panel discussions was the concept that the church is being built of living stones and therefore it will stand against all odds.
“The Church will face challenges and oppositions. But only those who do nothing do not face them, but the church will stand forever”, — Andy Raatz, AGWM Communications Director says.
Andrei Khoroschenko’s, pastor of Novokuznetsk Church on the Rock, sermon was full of practical advice. He suggested we analyzed how the church is being built: how people come to church, why they stay, why they leave, and what brings the best fruit. “We need to open the doors of the church wider, and make our hearts more warmly welcoming, so that more people could enter”, — was his call.
On day two we continued to talk about building the church, about God’s leadership in the life of Christians. The ministers shared examples from their own experience and lives. “How to reorganize priorities to be able to meet the highest standards of God, since one day we all will stand before Him” – Robert Shipley, Assemblies of God missionary, missions’ work coordinator in Russia and Belarus invited to ponder.
Vassily Evchik, pastor of Gospel Home Church (Naberezhnye Chelny), called to stay strong and faithful to the calling, in spite of any challenges. Pastor of Izhevsk Philadelphia Church Pavel Zhelnovakov was speaking that in the Book of Revelation in the Bible, in the epistle to seven churches we will find the answers to how a church should be prepared to hardships.
Pastor of Astrakhan Christ the Savior Church Alexander Kalinin believes that “the church is the best place to fulfill one’s potential. We will accomplish way more if we conform to Christ”.
During the panel discussion, devoted to a successful church, director of Moscow Theological Institute Sergei Yastrzhembski was talking to Edward Grabovenko, Jim Hennessy, Vassily Evchik and pastor of Saint-Petersburg New Testament Church Alexander Tsvetkov.
Pastor with 30 years of ministry experience Jim Hennessy shared his testimony about how he has become a pastor of a church that has gone through disappointments and downs. During the first six years he did his best to survive. And when he was ready to give up, God gave him four principles of building a church. During the next 14 years as a result of applying those principles the church has grown both in quality and quantity (from one thousand to seven thousand people).
1. The church should not only be a place where we talk about Christ and study the Bible, but also a place where people meet God. 2. God is faithful even if we are not. The church should be a place where everyone is accepted, with no expectation to receive anything in return. 3. The church should invest into the younger generation. 4. The success of the church should not be measured by Sunday services, but by what happens Monday to Friday.
Head Bishop Edward Grabovenko agreed with pastor Hennessy: “Our pastors knews the time and limits, they trusted in us when we were in our twenties. The new generation of the ministers will differ from us both outwardly and by their methods of ministry, but we should give our credence to them and help them to enter their foreordination”.
The second discussion was led by coordinator of Youth “One Year for Jesus” project David Grabovenko. While representing the young generation, he took interest in the missionary experience in different countries of the world: Robert Shipley has an experience of ministering in Iran, Ethiopia, Uganda, head of international missions of the Russian church Sergei Linnik – in Germany, Andy Raatz – in Moldova, Russia. Pastor of Krasnodar Bethany Church Sergei Nakul has never left his hometown, but his church is engaged in missions in the North Caucasus republics and is planting new churches. The key thought of all the speeches can be expressed by Sergei Linnik’s words: “The formula of planting new churches is to go to people. At every place where the Word is preached, there will be fruit – a church”.
During the conference participants of Youth “One Year for Jesus” project were blessed. A rotation has taken place: members of last year’s team have finished the project, 12 team members will go back to their home churches, and for the new 16 this is only the beginning. Pastor Edward Grabovenko and the church prayed and blessed them.
Edward Anatolievich prayed a special prayer of thanks for the faithful people who has been building Perm New Testament Church for more than 27 years, and reminded the members and guests of the church that the church is built of living stones: each one makes an invaluable contribution.
1,000 guests has come to Conference in Perm from almost every region of the country – North West to Far East regions. 3,000 pastors, ministers and church members gathered for a church-wide service. Five church-wide services and two panel discussions took place during the conference.
Watch videos of conference services on Perm New Testament Church Youtube channel: youtube.com/novizavet