By Stephan Pues
At the end of October, church planters and leaders from all over Europe gathered in Krakow, Poland for the sixth City To City Europe (CTCE) conference with over 30 countries represented. This gathering, which happens every other year, is always a significant moment for our European network.
During four keynote addresses, Tim Keller spoke about “Movements of the Gospel.” Each talk focused on four areas: me, my church, my city and my world. There were panel discussions, breakout sessions, Bible expositions, prayer and time given for community building and networking.
This time is a special opportunity to meet church planters, their leadership teams, pastors, network leaders and others from dozens of cities across Europe. Many use it as a time of vision casting, team building and sharing lessons they have learned to start gospel-driven churches in their city. And it also can’t be stressed enough how thinly stretched these leaders often are. The reformed church in the UK and Europe lacks the resources and support that churches have in other parts of the world. So the conference, hopefully, also gives leaders a time of shared fellowship and refreshment.
Andy Weatherley, a church planter from Birmingham, England said:
“Our city, like many cities across Europe, is a growing and dynamic ecosystem of human life and culture. Dr. Keller's works have consistently inspired me to think with care and precision about how urban church plants can bring the rich beauty of the gospel to bear upon the inhabitants of the city … Connecting with other leaders, working in similar situations to our own, has sparked some our most fruitful ideas and has helped to sustain me in church planting ministry."
During the conference, several new projects were announced, including a month-long residence training for church planters in Europe. This will be the first residency training program offered by CTCE on the continent. (For many years European church planters have traveled to New York City for training.) CTCE will also begin a network of coaches and a formal faith and work learning community.
While this conference is the biggest gathering ever hosted by CTCE, it is different in even another way: it is now reflecting an actual movement. In the first years of CTCE, it was just a couple of dozen church-planter pastors who were friends. We were those “weirdos“ who started churches in the urban centers of Europe. Today, 10 years later, it is a growing movement with more than 650 leaders.
We think it is reasonable to see about 400 churches planted in the next five years in about 40 cities. We are not merely dreaming—this is the trajectory we’re actually seeing. Hopefully every leader traveled home very encouraged, refueled and refreshed with a new vision for their churches and lives.
Stephan is the director of City to City Europe. You can follow the movement in Europe on Facebook and Instagram at @citytocityeurope.