FirstSteps for Planting a Missional Church Seminar in Moscow

By: Mark Albrecht
NorthBridge Church 

Seven years ago, NorthBridge entered into a sister church relationship with New Paradigm (Paradigma) Church in Moscow.  New Paradigm is a growing dynamic community comprised mostly of young adults meeting right in the heart of Moscow.  The church was planted by two Russian pastors along with an American missionary worker.

This young church has nearly outgrown its facility.  They are unable to add another worship service in it current location, nor is there a larger facility option in close proximity.  About a year ago, they began to see their dilemma as a call from God to plant a new congregation in a different part of Moscow.Mark Russia

Knowing that NorthBridge is committed to church planting, myself and four others were invited to lead a FirstSteps for Planting a Missional Church seminar in Moscow.  A group of 20 leaders and pastors attended.  In addition to pastors and leaders from New Paradigm Church, there were also Russian pastors from conservative Baptist groups and independent Bible churches, along with a few American missionaries serving in Moscow.

Before this trip, I sent Gary Rohrmayer's church planting training materials to Moscow so they could be translated into Russian.  I worked with a brilliant translator who was also a pastor, so it was easy to work with him.

At first, some of the Russian pastors objected to the material.  As we looked at the Biblical call to multiply congregations and explored how a pioneering church begins through networking and relational contacts, some of the pastors had an unfavorable initial response.  They said things like, "Church planting only works in America.  Russian people are different than Americans, very private.  So you can't just go meet people and discuss spiritual issues."  It seems they were expressing much of their own frustration regarding how hard ministry is in Moscow and how marginalized they feel as Christians in the culture.

But over the three days, God moved in the hearts of many of the pastors, and they began to get a vision for church planting.  In a city of over 20 million people with less than 1% being Bible-believing Christians, they could see the critical need for planting vibrant churches all over the city and beyond.  At the end of the seminar, it was exciting to see some of the pastors even talking together about how they might partner to plant a new church. 

FirstSteps Russia Our own sister church is anxious about planting, wondering how this will affect their own congregation, but they sense God calling them to this.  They are looking to Him in faith to lead their plans and to send off a team sometime in the next year.  On the Sunday we were there, each member of our team participated in their worship service, and I was asked to preach and envision the congregation for church planting.

NorthBridge is hoping to play a part in their church-planting effort with financial support as well as the possibility of sending a "medium-term team" (3-6 months) to help equip the members of the new congregation to have a successful launch. How exciting to see a church-planting vision spreading to a different part of the world that so desperately needs the hope of Christ!


Church Planting, Mark Albrecht, Missions