East-West Church & Ministry Report
Vol. 1, No. 2, Spring 1993, Covering the Former Soviet Union and East Central Europe

FORUM:  working together works best
Three Approaches to Christian Ministry in Russia

by Elaine Springer 

Three ministries currently working in Russia offer contrasting and complimentary models for missionary involvement.

The CoMission teaches basic Christian truths in the public schools through an ethics curriculum and Bible studies.  The ultimate, five-year goal is to start a Bible study in each of the 120,000 public schools in the CIS, and many more in the Baltic states, Albania, Bulgaria, and Romania.  A distinctive feature of the project is its cooperative nature.  More than 70 organizations, including Campus Crusade, Walk Thru the Bible, and the Association of Christian Schools International, have joined together to promote evangelism through the educational systems of the former Soviet Union and East Central Europe.

The CoMission accepts candidates who are 20 years of age or older. The goal is to place 12,000 workers in one-year terms of service between 1992 and 1997. Because of the short-term nature of The CoMission ministry, applicants have no language requirements.  For their one-year assignments single workers raise $20,000 in support.  Couples without children raise $35,000 for a year's support.

The Alliance concentrates on church planting in close cooperation with the indigenous churches of the former Soviet Union and East Central Europe.  It's goal is to see 5,500 new churches established in five years and to conduct training conferences for pastors leading these new congregations.

AD2000 and Beyond, DAWN (Discipling A Whole Nation), and United World Mission formed The Alliance at the AD2000-sponsored "Nations for Christ" conference.  Eight hundred church leaders from the former Soviet Union and East Central Europe attended this May 1992 meeting in Riga, Latvia.  Seventeen participating ministries have a goal of placing 400 long-term missionaries.  Language study is required.  Candidates raise support according to marital status, family size, and other requirements of respective member ministries of The Alliance.

The Russia 250 Project assists CIS national church leaders in the recruitment, training, and support of indigenous workers whose goal is to establish 250 new congregations by December 1995.  Five Western mission agencies ? Harvester, Peter Deyneka Russian Ministries, TEAM, United World Mission, and WorldTeam ? have joined hands to this end. Ministry specialists with experience on many continents are assisting Christians from Soviet successor states in the development and implementation of church planting strategies.  Western missionaries can also serve in support roles as consultants, resource providers, teachers, and prayer partners.  As a church becomes self-sustaining, the expectation is that funds used to establish a new congregation would be transferred to other church-planters reaching other geographic regions of the CIS where churches are rare or non-existent.
 
Similarities and Distinctives
The  CoMission, The Alliance, and Russia 250 Project goals are complementary rather than competitive.  Participants in all three efforts want to see people come to a knowledge of biblical Christianity.  By aligning themselves strongly with existing evangelical churches, both The Alliance and the Russia 250 Project should provide genuine encouragement to believers, and, in addition, fill a tremendous need.  In contrast, The CoMission?s broad organizational  base and lack of close ties to the church may enable it to work in ways that churches cannot, such as through public school presentations of Christian ethical teachings.

Both The CoMission and the Russia 250 Project plan to place nationals in leadership in three to five years.   The Russia 250 Project also envisions the formation of  indigenous mission boards in each former Soviet republic to oversee the work.  This is a new concept for this part of the world because Communists, by statute, previously prohibited the commissioning of missionaries and evangelists.

Neither The CoMission nor The Alliance are new mission agencies.  Both are coalitions of preexisting ministries joining hands to implement a common vision.  In both cases individual agencies process candidate applications on behalf of the umbrella associations.  The CoMission and The Alliance differ in short-term versus long-term placements, in language requirements, and in the amount of prior experience expected of candidates.  This diversity may prove beneficial by permitting the matching of a great variety of gifts with a great variety of needs. 

Elaine Springer is director of cross-cultural communications for Peter Deyneka Russian Ministries, Wheaton, IL.



For more information on these three approaches to Christian ministry, contact:
 
The CoMission 
4201 North Peachtree Rd. #1997 
Atlanta, GA 30341 
Tel: (404) 123-4567, #324 
Fax:  (404) 458-7485
The Alliance 
Box 236 
Rt. 1 Upper Hudlow Rd. 
Union Mills, NC 28167 
Tel:  (704) 287-9905 
Fax:  (704) 287-9908 
The Russia 250 Project 
Peter Deyneka Russian Ministries 
Box 496 
Wheaton, IL 60189 
Tel:  (708) 462-1739 
Fax:  (708) 690-2976 

Elaine Springer, "Three Approaches to Christian Ministry in Russia," East-West Church & Ministry Report, 1 (Spring 1993), 4.

Written permission is required for reprinting or electronic distribution of any portion of the East-West Church & Ministry Report.

1993 East-West Church and Ministry Report
ISSN 1069-5664


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