Note: This update was adapted from a post on the website of our national affiliate, the Association for Spiritual Renewal.
On March 11-12, 2011, both a strategic planning meeting for Russian Ministries’ School Without Walls coordinators and a Purpose Driven Journey seminar took place at the Association for Spiritual Renewal Center (Russian Ministries’ national affiliate) in Irpen, Ukraine.
As the 85 School Without Walls coordinators and teachers from Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus gathered, they talked through plans and strategies for this training ministry as well as the very real difficulties and abundant blessings they experience in their leadership of School Without Walls.
During this meeting, Next Generation Christian leaders Vitaly Shabunin and Andrei Murzin made two key presentations. Shabunin shared how the church can influence society, and pointed out the passivity of Protestant churches in Ukraine when it comes to lobbying and making their voices heard.
Andrei Murzin’s presentation was on Orthodoxy in post-Soviet society. Murzin touched on the delicate topic of dialogue between Protestants and the government-sanctioned Orthodox Church.
Over 50 pastors, youth leaders, School Without Walls students and others joined the School Without Walls coordinators for the Purpose Driven Journey seminar, led by Dr. Mark Carver, Andrew Lossau and Andrei Bondarenko of Saddleback Church.
The three men taught about the church’s and individual Christians’ five-fold purpose: worship, service, evangelism, fellowship, and teaching. National church leader Anatoly Kaluzhny, pastor of the New Life Church in Kiev, has integrated the Saddleback Church paradigm in his church, and he taught on communicating to change lives.
A lively panel discussion of the role and influence of the evangelical church in the swiftly-changing modern world featured the president of the Ukrainian Baptist Union, Vyacheslav Nesteruk, pastors Leonid Kartavenko (Moscow, Russia), Gennady Brutsky (Minsk, Belarus) and Sergei Guts (Ulyanovsk, Russia), evangelist Andrei Bondarenko and Dr. Mark Carver of Saddleback.
The informal conversation among panelists covered serious and important topics-the decrease in influence of the church in society, church growth, and the low number of men in the church.
Michael Cherenkov, vice-president of the Association of Spiritual Renewal, noted that evangelical Christianity doesn’t shy away from using a variety of approaches and methods to overcome some of these difficulties.
This two-day seminar motivated young Christian leaders to expand their horizons, and go beyond the walls of their churches to reach out to the world.