Redeemer City to City helped start 42 churches and 10 networks in 2016. It's because of your generosity that we're able to help leaders build gospel movements in cities.
On October 28-30 a Gospel in the City event, hosted by local church planters and network leaders, was held in Kiev, Ukraine. Nearly 150 leaders from seventeen of the twenty-four regions of the country were in attendance. The group was highly trans-denominational reflecting the diverse and unique relationships that City to City believes are vital to developing robust and healthy church planting networks. Gathering such a diverse group of leaders is unique for Ukraine. One participant reflected, “I’ve never seen a conference in Ukraine where so many people from different denominations gathered together yet with so much unity around the gospel.”
On October 15 Redeemer City to City welcomed 23 church planters and trainers to this year’s International Intensive in New York City. Of these 23 planters, eight were able to bring their spouses, and two couples brought their children. Church planting couples that attend training together have the clearest vision as they enter ministry. What a delight to see these families together, to get to know their kids, and to watch these couples be encouraged and strengthened by this training.
In May we participated with Redeemer City to City to initiate a network for church planting in Lima. Forty pastors attended the event. As a result there is now a network of eight churches working together to plant churches in the city of Lima. This network, the Lima Initiative, is about the multiplication of dynamic churches for the redemption of lives and the transformation of communities.
I am delighted to announce that Redeemer City to City has announced its new CEO. Steve Shackelford will join CTC as CEO on February 1, 2017.
For the last few years, church planters influenced by Redeemer City to City in African cities have expressed a desire to connect with other planters on the continent who share a vision to see their cities impacted by the gospel, and to multiply churches. In early March, 14 of these planters took a step in that direction when they met in Pretoria, South Africa. The gathering explored the idea of creating a trans-denominational network of indigenous African church planters working in the leading cities of the continent. These planters represented a variety of African cities including Antananarivo, Bukavu, Cape Town, Durban, Kigali, Lagos, Nairobi, and Pretoria.
They concluded there would be great value in such a network and have chosen to call it “City to City Africa,” highlighting the idea of a peer-to-peer network focused on urban gospel ministry. In the early stages, the network will serve churches and leaders in any number of denominations or tight networks seeking to encourage existing planters, connect them to others locally and across the continent attempting similar work, embolden existing churches in their church planting endeavors, and help set up systems to identify, recruit, train and mentor new planters. The network will connect church leaders to both training and funding in order to bring these new churches to fruition. Soon, we hope to establish five to ten regional training centers to deliver contextualized, gospel centered church planting training.
Based on Africa’s overall rates of urbanization and population growth, the continent’s cities are likely to double, or even triple, in the next twenty to thirty years. As big cities are filled to the brim with young people, the Church is ill-prepared to meet the challenges of such exponential growth. Some estimates indicate as much as 75% of the population in African cities will be under the age of twenty by 2035. By 2050 they will represent almost 30% of the globe's youth. The soil is fertile in these cities for evangelism and church planting. It is our dream that the Lord might use City to City Africa, along with other gospel oriented ministries and churches, to populate these cities with churches that will effectively communicate the historic Christian gospel and make the effects of that gospel visible in their communities. Please pray for the Lord's hand on this exciting endeavor.
In 2010, Redeemer City to City invited me to join the International Church Planter Intensive Training (the Intensive). I had already helped to plant sixteen churches and originally thought they wanted me to come teach. I was surprised when I realized they were inviting me to participate. I’ll admit, it wounded my pride a little, but nevertheless I decided to participate in the month-long training. I’m so glad I did! During the Intensive I was personally and professionally challenged, and I completely changed my plan for church planting.
Last September, City to City (CTC) piloted the Apprentice Program, which was designed to partner with New York City pastors and church planters to develop young leaders for the gospel movement in the city. On June 11th, 20 young men and women completed this nine month experience and became the first graduates of the program.
The Apprentice program consists of five Saturday morning learning sessions, a church plant visit, and a visit to a mercy ministry in the city. Pastors supervise an apprentice during a church ministry assignment and meet with them for coaching. This dual approach helps apprentices integrate what they learn into their daily life and ministry, gives a lift to the churches they serve, and prepares graduates for ministry in the city.
The program is the first stage of the leadership pipeline we are developing in New York City and equips participants to engage the city with the gospel and identify their calling. Some of these leaders have begun to sense a call to church planting and will move into seminary, Fellows, and Incubator programs as they prepare to launch new congregations. Others are marketplace leaders committed to supporting church planting efforts as they bring the gospel to bear on their work.
The Apprentice Program will officially launch this September with a cohort of 80 from over 30 churches! It is our privilege to work alongside pastors and planters as God raises leaders and laborers for his church in New York City.
City to City (CTC) has long faced a conundrum: How do you take our model of deep mentoring and transformative in-person trainings for church planters, and multiply them around the world? How could we replicate the experience and wisdom of CTC facilitators in a classroom of young pioneering pastors in Bogotá or Hamburg that would create the same rich gospel-centered theology for a global city, yet allow for and encourage adaptation and contextualization?
As part of the answer to this question, we’ve recently launched our very first online school. We are using a software called Pathwright which allows teachers to customize every aspect of the learning process for their students. Last November we published three courses based on the book Center Church to help pastors and church planters apply the core concepts of Gospel, City and Movement. This summer we will launch more advanced courses on Gospel Renewal, Ministry Design, and Missional Ministry.
This online school is intended to help any urban ministry practitioner, from the pastor or church planter to the parachurch worker to the Christian entrepreneur seeking to reach their city with the gospel. Courses are offered at a lower price if they are taken in groups, which is a part of our learning philosophy - that we can have more impactful and transformative learning experiences through the intersection of content and community.
Not only are we offering these courses as a plug and play resource for any pastor or church planter to use, we are putting more and more of our in-house flagship church planter training programs online as well. Pathwright is allowing us to organize our content, make it more accessible, and make sure our content is edited and all permissions received before sharing it with new staff and network leaders who can lead this training in a new city. With this school we hope to expand our reach, generate revenue, and still offer a deep and wide body of content to the world.
In late April, 13 church planters participated in the International Church Planting Intensive in Singapore and Hong Kong. This group reflected the widest array of cities and cultures of Asia Pacific's five Intensives to date with church planters from Bangalore, Bangkok, Canberra, Kuala Lumpur, Melbourne, Phnom Penh, Seoul, Singapore, and Tokyo.
This year we made several key changes to the Intensive. We condensed it from four weeks to seventeen days, visiting two cities rather than three. More importantly, we empowered local leaders to teach the Intensive, rather than bringing all the main trainers from the US. These local leaders have been through our training and shadowed past trainers.
We certainly felt your prayers and support throughout this Intensive as we encountered many hurdles, including multiple staff members getting sick and some visa issues with a participant. Still, God was faithful and created time for rest and help to clear up the visa troubles. With the training of local leadership and the diverse group attending the Intensive, we were reminded of all God is doing in Asia and are thankful for the strong support that each of you provide through your giving, prayer and friendship.
I knew I was going to have a great experience when I applied to the first-ever Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) program based in New York City. From the vision of the partnership between RTS and Redeemer City to City (CTC), to the involvement of Tim Keller and others, the program was poised from the very beginning to be special. What I didn’t know was just how special it would be.
The students in this inaugural program bonded quickly. Beyond the great education we received over this past year, one of the most important experiences has been the building of deep friendships with fellow Christians who feel called to serve God in New York City. I didn't expect this kind of community, and it has been a tremendous joy to grow in knowledge and faith with my classmates. What CTC and RTS have created in New York City is unique, and I pray that the gospel movement here will be accelerated because of it. I look forward to seeing how God equips and brings together future classes as RTS and CTC continue to expand this graduate program.
This April, over 250 leaders from across Europe gathered in Portugal’s capital city of Lisbon for a three-day meeting hosted by a local church. In an effort to strengthen the network and draw more people into connection with our work, City to City (CTC) Europe hosts a gathering in a different major European city every 18 months. Thus, holding the conference in Lisbon served to catalyze efforts in cities across Portugal and Spain in new and exciting ways. Three years ago, there were a mere 30 leaders from the Iberian Peninsula at a similar network gathering. This year, we had over 100 leaders from the region, which continues to show that hosting gatherings in geographically diverse locations helps draw people into the movement who may not have been connected at all.
Church planters from Europe led both the plenary talks and the breakout workshops for the gathering, which provided a wealth of perspectives and material for all in attendance. The main sessions addressed developing a theological vision and challenging the cultural narratives of a city. Workshops covered topics ranging from how to develop training programs to examining your prayer life and urban discipleship. For many, the opportunity to network with other church planters from similar contexts was the most valuable part. It is a joy for us to witness the way that co-laborers in Christ have been drawn together over the years through CTC Europe.
In many ways, this gathering has revealed CTC Europe’s new horizon. What was once a small network centered on a few specific individuals has grown to include second and third generation church planters. These planters have joined the network through a church planting friend, mentor, or colleague. The over 100 new participants we met this year confirmed our thoughts that CTC Europe is now seeing a new generation of leaders rising up across the great cities of the region. We are excited to see the network enter a new phase, where there is continued ownership by leaders in Europe, and excitement about church planting extending far beyond our reach.
The talks on the conference are really helpful, because they touched on the discussion we are having right now about the future of our church. I also saw that people in different cities have the same issues, that a movement is more and more becoming reality. A lot of plants are now 5+ years old and have different questions, so it was a good mixture of gospel churches between plants and grown up churches.
– Dennis Viehoff, Hamburgprojekt in Hamburg, Germany
My name is Femi. I also happen to be Nigerian. No, I have not sent you any recent email, nor do I have a stash of millions of dollars in cash somewhere only needing a few hundred bucks to unlock it. Yes, I speak and laugh considerably loudly and I tend to pronounce vowel sounds with my mouth wide open!