The Sovata resort hosted the October 26-29 conference that launched the fourth course in the BIG5 series. This series targets the development of an informational and experiential environment that is necessary to change the church paradigm, from one that is focused on program to one that is focused on purpose and fruitfulness. According to BIG’s strategic coordinator, Pastor Eugen Paul-Faina:
The Church Growth Management course, launched this fall, introduced a topic that gives birth to controversy in an Evangelical environment in which any intentional effort towards change, no matter if it is focused on purpose or on fruitfulness, is labeled from start as technocratic.
The presuppositions that govern the paradigm introduced include the existence of an universe created by an infinite and perfect God, who is effective and efficient. On one hand, God creates the cosmos with a purpose, communicating from the beginning to the end of the Special Revelation his purpose, vision, mission and strategy. On the other hand, God helps us understand that his purpose with the cosmos he created will succeed in time, no matter what we will do to this end, both as individuals and as local churches.
Pastors from different Evangelical denominations, together with their ministry teams, have accepted the challenge to take this course.
Around 18 people met many times during the year, to develop the curriculum for each topic and the best presentation methods for the content. The course was developed entirely by Romanians, by creative, experienced people in Christian ministry, with the motivation of helping the Evangelical Romanian churches better fulfill their mission in the larger context of the Kingdom of God.
For this course, the pastors and their leadership teams were invited to biblically manage (operationally and relationally) the growth of their churches, based on a biblical theology of church growth, beginning with the Creation Covenant and finishing with the Redemption Covenant. They were challenged to identify the steps that they have to take towards growing their churches, and to identify and manage the factors that block or facilitate the growth. They were encouraged to manage the growth from a relational point of view, both preventively, by cultivating healthy relationships, and curatively, by managing the conflict in a creative and biblical way.
Interaction, both in small groups during the sessions, and in seminars, was designed to initiate the implementation of the content on a local level. This will be done progressively, as the course is brought to a deeper level by a follow-up process that is done through a series of regional meetings during the coming year.
The conference had a challenging topic, and was full of interaction, a time of deep and motivational worship in an exceptional natural environment, which helped us feel closer to our Creator. The most important thing though, we understood God has a dream which he will accomplish, no matter what we will do. In this dream, we play an important role, as long as we understand it is not accomplished by chance, but through a coherent ministry in which God is partnering with those who love him and want to contribute to the fulfilling of this dream.
We pray that all the participants will get actively involved in the follow-up process on a local level and will put into practice all the content they’ve been exposed to in Sovata, this leading to helping many churches in achieving global impact.
In closing, we added a few insights from the participants:
For me it was a conference that gave me the opportunity to see how a desire or a dream from years ago is becoming reality – to do something for Romanians, with Romanians. BIG promotes, even experiences this – ”as you go.” When I was reading Ephesians 5:27 and and I looked at the local churches, I could not understand clearly how this is going to happen and was thinking that this is his job. This conference helped me understand what happens in the dynamics of the church development, and, at the same time, that Christ invites me to be part of the fulfilment of his plan with his church. This conference helped me understand both what happens in the dynamic of church growth, and that Jesus Christ invites me to be a part in fulfilling his plan for his church.
Bill Trenckmann, SUA:
I really enjoyed the BIG5.4 conference in Sovata. It was wonderfully prepared and presented by godly and well prepared people. I believe the main topic will remain relevant for the Romanian church, in the coming years. Many useful diagrams and illustrations were used by the presenters. These have helped the participants contextualize where they are in their ministry
Andreea Irimia, Brasov:
Such a conference is, in my view, overwhelming, full of content and full of the Word. I was excited to see people who understand the main calling of Jesus to go and make disciples. These people invest time, money, resources, to do a ministry not with half energy, but by investing 100%, training others, in their turn, to do a great ministry for the Lord. The commitment and seriousness with which they are doing ministry is a very good example for me and I was so happy to be part in this, both as a volunteers and as one who works for the Kingdom.
Attending this conference was a win for me on a few areas. I saw that the disciples can come together as brothers and sisters, even though they are not from the same denomination. Also, I understood that the local church can develop even though it does not have funds and infrastructure, the resources of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God and the people being sufficient for this. Finally, the interaction in the seminars, the emphasis on relationships, the simple and open atmosphere, but, also, the attention to detail were the ingredients that I enjoyed in this process of learning.
I learned that every organization or church has phases of development and that it is important to understand where we are in the process, so that we could know what to change or improve. Also, I enjoyed the interaction and experience BIG creates every time. My prayer is that God will help many more churches in Romania get involved in a coordinated way in fulfilling his dream.
Iulian Trandafir, Braila:
The BIG 5.4 conference was more than a conference for me, because these days were decisive and transformational on a personal level for me. I discovered God in ways I did not experience in worship and relationships for long time ago. I was expecting such an experience for quite some time and wanted it badly. A second reason for gratitude and fulfillment was the scriptural, logical, coherent, healthy and aboundant content, that helped us see the church from a bird’s eye view and, also, the local church, our part in it. We became, as a leaders’ team, after the discussions and analysis, more aware of our role in our church and in our city. More exactly, for me these courses made me choose if I want to be mediocre, or a true worker for Jesus, for extending his Kingdom – so I chose the second option, because I was created for this, as anyone of us, really.
Laurentiu Funieru, Târgoviste:
I am glad I had the opportunity to attend this event, because I got the chance to reflect on the various things we have to be aware of when we talk about the health of the church. I learned that God is interested in growth, that there is a life cycle of the church, that we have to be aware of the factors that influence growth and that relationships play a key role in the growth of the church.