Recently, Team France had the pleasure of attending a day-long church planters’ gathering (courtesy of the Fédération des Églises Évangéliques Baptistes de France, or French Baptist Federation) and thought we’d share a little of our experience!
After a lunch to begin the gathering – always a good way to start in my opinion – we moved on to an interview of some of the church planters, with spontaneous questions for them to answer! Those being interviewed were people who are known as ‘Pioneers’ by those in the church planting business. This means that they are often the ones who initially look into planting in the area, experimenting with techniques and starting up church communities which can, hopefully, be grown in the future.
We heard from Mauricio, a Brazilian man who had recently gained French citizenship, and his wife, who are working in Saint Lô, Brittany. Mauricio does Bible studies in his home in order to gather and meet with people. Sometimes there will be only 3 people, but there could be as many as 17 who come along – Christians, Muslims and non-believers alike. He shares his testimony, featuring a battle with alcohol before coming to faith. It helps others to understand where he came from and hear of God’s work in people’s lives.
A man named Laurent who shared about his work in Le Neubourg, Normandy, where they use a range of techniques to evangelise – from social media, to having a stall at the local market. At the beginning, local residents were wary of him, but now people have starting to come to the church and asking for prayer. The rural environment makes it difficult to meet people, which means growth is an especially slow progress there, nevertheless, the Sunday service often has between 10 and 20 people.
Séna, who has been working in Caen, Normandy, for 2 years also shared about his work. His church works with refugees in the area, as part of building relationships for evangelism, as well as creating a good relationship with the mayor. They see an encouraging 20-25 people coming along to church, but he still yearns to see more people come to faith in the area.
We, as a team, enjoyed meeting others who are doing God’s work in France, and were inspired by all the people we spoke to. This is especially true as our ‘home church’ for the duration of our time here in France is a small church, in a similar situation to those we heard about at the gathering.
Mauricio – provision of a meeting room for the Sunday service, ideally in the centre of town, and a group of mature Christians
Laurent – having renewed energy for his work and the church plant, finding creative ways to evangelise effectively and for the church to grow
Séna – provision of a worship leader and success of the Alpha course in March, with the people interested in God after evangelism events