Last month, City to City Asia Pacific hosted its fifth Intensive, a multi-week, in-depth training for urban church planters, with more than 100 people in attendance.
The Intensive was held at Star City Church Bethlehem (known as Star Church) in Taipei. Back in 2007, Jay Kyle, CTC’s Global Catalyst for Asia Pacific and Latin America, met Gordon Huang, a pastor with plans to plant a church in the suburbs. But after meeting Jay and capturing a new vision for loving and caring for the city, Gordon planted 101 Church in the heart of Taipei. 101 Church has since planted five churches in Taipei, including Star Church, and Gordon is the director of the newly launched affiliate, CTC Taiwan.
The Asia Intensive welcomed a diverse group of people: 18 church planters with plans to start churches in the near future; returning alumni who came for a master class; two groups of church-planting spouses there to participate in Parakaleo; and some network leaders there to shadow and learn, so they can provide this valuable training in the future.
Holding the Intensive in a city with a new church planting network like CTC Taiwan, tends to accelerate the growth and progress of that network. Local guests come and learn about the network and then join and support it. Katie Ellis, Program Manager for Asia Pacific and Latin America, explains, “They see they can work together with others to love their city. It’s a kickstarter for the host city. It brings people together from different denominations and circles.”
In previous years, the Intensive was a four-week training program, but the time commitment was challenging for people with jobs and families. This most recent Intensive was a two-week configuration that forced CTC trainers to be more efficient, prioritize the material and contextualize for Asia Pacific.
“We usually start with theology, then go into discipleship and then practical ministry concepts. This year we started off with four days of gospel renewal—being shaped by God, dealing with idols of the heart, being continually renewed. This is so important,” says Katie.
Ruth Leary, Regional Network Coordinator for EMEA, went to Taipei to help with the event. She’s seen the effect of gospel renewal teaching over and over. “Every person who comes to this Intensive loves the Lord. They feel called to ministry. They are planting in hard areas—they are committed—and yet they hear the gospel in a new way. I heard someone say, ‘God is speaking to my heart in ways he’s never done before.’ It doesn’t just engage with their head. It’s a heart thing.”
The trainers model openness and vulnerability as they share their own struggles, their successes as well as their failures and their need for the gospel to daily transform their own lives. The message was neither sugarcoated nor overly intellectual. It was an honest presentation of what it takes to plant a church and the impact church planting has on the planter and the family.
Katie says, “The message was repeated that God will fine tune and shape them. You can be called to a mission that is so outward, and yet you have to deal with yourself and face God on a very real and deep level. Church planting is hard. The leader must be continually renewed by God and the gospel.”
And here's a quote from one of the Intensive participants:
“The intensive not only provided us an opportunity to learn, but also a few sessions ministered to me deeply and helped me along in the process of healing and renewal. The Intensive also helped me analyze/evaluate our previous church plant, and I learned valuable lessons on being centered in the gospel. Our team building, leadership development and future church plants will seriously be shaped by what we’ve learned in this Intensive. Thank you!! Thank you!!”