Several years ago Paul and I spent time praying and discerning what the key components we would need in place before we could plant our church in Paris. We arrived at a short list of three. Today I am proud to announce that the first of the three has been checked off our list! We are really excited to announce that we are now on staff with Christian Associates International!! For the time being we are affiliate staff until we get closer to moving. The assessment process took place May 16-20th in Denver, Colorado. It was a very intense process that focused heavily on understanding our character and looking for indicators for long term cross cultural church planting success. There are a few things that we will both be working on before we are given the green light but we were both already aware of and working on them.
Several years ago, we began seriously looking into organizations to partner with in our church-plant. There were several specific things we were looking for, that, at the time were proving difficult to find. In France, in order to be ‘legit’ in people’s eyes, you need to have recognition from the French government. It is different from the US in that if you are doing anything ‘religious’ and don’t have formal recognition, you’re instantly labeled a cult. “Home-Churches” don’t really exist in the same way over there as they do here. People literally think the worst of you and what you’re doing, and don’t trust you. However, if you get recognition and legitimacy from the government, most of that ‘cult’ stigma goes away. The easiest way to get that stamp of approval from the government is to join with an organization that already has that recognition, and we’re happy to say that Christian Associates has that approval!
The second thing we were looking for was a group to mentor us and keep us accountable in certain areas. We knew we couldn’t do this alone, and realized very quickly that if we were going to take on such a huge undertaking as planting a church in a city as closed off as Paris is to the Gospel, we would definitely need some help doing it. CA not only provides a network of other pastors and individuals doing the same type of work we are, but it gives us opportunity within that network to be mentored by some incredible men and women of God, who understand our drive and passion for the French. Christian Associates also supplies us with the tools we need, spiritually and administratively through training – both before we “launch” our church, and after. There is a natural accountability system set up within the organization that allows for continual check-ups on us – spiritually, financially, how our family is doing, and how our team dynamics are playing out. We are so excited and grateful that CA provides this. We know we can’t do it alone.
Finally, the third big reason we saw Christian Associates being a good fit was that it was not only a good fit for us, but for the people of France. It’s their methodology that really drew us in. In America you see churches sprouting up all over the place with big flashy services, mailings promoting the service or sermon series, and loud music to get people in the door. I’ll admit – there’s a part of us that really loves that. But the people of France? Not as much. The culture is different. The people are different. CA’s approach is one of listening to what the culture is in need of. Not imparting our American ideas of what we think would be best for them. Each project starts with a period of time (several months to a couple years) ’embedding’ into the culture, and really taking the time and being intentional about hearing and seeing how God is already moving in little ways within the community. From here, you’re able to start joining in with what the community is doing, inviting others to join with you, and eventually meeting as a church before starting the whole process over in planting a new church or sending others out to do it. We are so thrilled to be a part of an organization that is so intentional about loving on and joining in life with the people they’re living around.
This just scratches the surface of why we chose Christian Associates. If you would like to hear more from us, let us know! We’d love to share more with you!