IX August Leadership Seminar of the Churches of Christ
"The Bible As a Mirror Of The Church"
On August 12-14, 2019 the Christian Resource Center Russia (CRCRussia) hosted the IX August Leadership Seminar of the Russian Churches of Christ. The seminar took place in the same location as last year - near St. Petersburg, in the picturesque town of Kolbino. The seminar was attended by brothers representing Russian congregations from cities Biysk, Chelyabinsk, Gatchina, Kirov, Moscow, Rostov-on-Don, St. Petersburg, Sevastopol, Simferopol, Ukhta, Voronezh, Vyatskiye Polyany.
It is long overdue that the brothers need to discuss what has happened and is happening in our congregations since they were first established. It will soon be thirty years since the Church of Christ began to emerge in Russia. During this time, we have gained the most diverse experience, went through the period of infancy and moved, so to speak, into the age of youth and relative maturity. The physical age of our congregations should inevitably affect the spiritual condition. One way or another, this theme was touched by brothers in classes and discussions.
At the seminar, we had time for both theoretical studies discussions. Moreover, discussions this time were allotted more time than theoretical studies. This was something new for the format of the August CRCRussia seminar. In the classes, we compared the Church described in the Bible with the modern Church in Russia. We were looking for things that are common for the first and modern Church, what problems they faced were similar to those that we face today, how they overcame problems and how this can enrich our experience, are congregational autonomy and collective leadership truly biblically grounded teachings and does all of this have practical meaning besides theological. The general theme of the seminar was “The Bible as a Mirror of the Church”.
The theoretical classes were as follows:
- • "The Problems of the First Church in Comparison With Modern Problems of the Church in Russia. Problems Connected With the Rapid Growth of the Church. Persecution by Jews and Gentiles" (Igor Egirev, St. Petersburg).
- • "Church Authenticity. What Causes it, “Apostolic Succession” or Obedience to the Word of God? " (Dmitry Kosyrev, Voronezh).
- • "Congregational Collective Leadership. What does the Bible say about it? " (Sergey Bolshakov, Moscow).
- • "Collective Leadership. Benefits and “problems”. How to Cope with Problems to Utilise Advantages? " (Dmitry Gusarov, St. Petersburg),
- • "Autonomy of the Congregations of the Church of Christ. What Does the Bible Say About It? Benefits And "Problems". How in the I Century Local Congregations Managed to Remain Both Unite and Autonomous” (Igor Egirev, St. Petersburg).
There were also discussions, both in general group and in small groups, on the following topics:
- • What values unite us?
- • What does God do through us in Russia? Where does He lead us?
- • What are the strengths of Russian Churches? How can we benefit from these aspects?
- • Election of elders and deacons. Should this be the goal?
- • How can we maintain fraternal fellowship and serve God together today, while remaining autonomous?
- • What tools do we have today to maintain bond ties?
- • What concrete steps can we take together to strengthen the influence of the Kingdom of God in Russia?
- • What opportunities are opening up in Russia for God through our joint work?
In the process of discussion, we developed various ideas that can help both local congregations and the development of the movement of the Church of Christ in Russia as a whole. Some of these ideas have already been embodied, or are being embodied, some will start soon, some will start in a more distant future. We understand that during the seminar we were hardly able to name all possible ideas, but we made a good start.
Here are these ideas:
- • Hold regular video conferences where leaders could meet. The next one is scheduled for September 15 at 4.00 PM of Moscow time.
- • Create a mobile application for the Church of Christ: Bible, news, sermons, spiritual food, discussion of hot topics, subsequent advertising of the application on Christian sites.
- • Create a group for ministers in social networks or messengers with alerts, only for news (already created).
- • Resume annual May church conferences.
- • Create an organizing committee to help local congregations prepare for the May conferences.
- • To inform all the Churches of Christ in advance about the conduct of children's and family Christian camps.
- • Create an interactive clickable calendar on www.churchofchrist.ru website with event dates with access only for registered participants (for security reasons).
- • Visit each other more often.
- • The newspaper "In Christ" has become a source of information for the Russian-speaking congregations. It is possible and necessary to intensify its work. To do this, local communities need to pay more attention to what is happening in them. If possible, communities can elect people who will be responsible for collecting the information and sending it to the newspaper.
- • A new section in the newspaper "In Christ" with information about spiritual needs and requests for help from different communities.
- • Start a full-time program at the ITCM.
- • Regular exchange of preachers between the communities with a schedule of sermons.
- • Publishing of new books by the Eastern European Mission.
- • A financial fund to provide charitable assistance to various congregations and those who suffered in any disaster.
- • An interactive scale on churchofchrist.ru with information on the assistance collected for a specific case (crowdfunding).
- • Together establish (plant) new truly autonomous congregations.
- • Updating the map of Christ's Churches on www.churchofchrist.ru website, sharing information about existing and extinct communities (it was noted that this issue needs to be further considered due to the danger of openly publishing information, especially about unregistered congregations).
- • Promotion of copyrighted programs and ministries, sermons and lessons, put them in the public domain (for example, “5 questions” project, the program of Alexei Pronsky and the Christian radio “Truth Today” etc).
- • The ministry of the Neva Church of Christ chorus (organization of tours, learning new songs, evangelism).
- • Church-wide offline and online events to attract an audience.
- • News Telegram channel of the Churches of Christ (mini-media, duplication of the newspaper "In Christ") with discussions.
This list gives a good picture of the range of issues raised.
At the end of the seminar, standing in a circle, we prayed together for the Church of Christ in Russia. We recognize that the Church is Christ's, not ours, which means we need to be sensitive to His guidance, to seek His will and to obey Him.
Peace is grace