In May, City to City Asia Pacific (CTCAP) held its fifth International Intensive, a multi-week, in-depth training for urban church planters. Star Church in Taipei, hosted the event.
There’s an interesting backstory. Back in 2007, Gordon Huang was planning to plant a church in the suburbs of Taipei, but after meeting Jay Kyle from CTC and capturing a new vision for loving the city, he planted 101 Church in the heart of Taipei. That church has since planted five churches, including Star Church, and Gordon is the director of the newly launched affiliate, City to City Taiwan.
This training event included leaders from Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taipei, Seoul, Tokyo, Manila, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Sydney, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and even Dubai (a church planter looking to plant a church among Filipino workers in the UAE). Curt Yeo, CEO of CTCAP, notes, “This diversity of context and culture provides a robust learning environment for the participants—as each is looking to plant churches in the center of these global cities. The interaction between the church planters and the relationships that are built and developed among them are powerful. As we’ve seen in past Intensives, I suspect that as each of these church plants launch, these leaders will stay in touch, supporting and encouraging one another in the gospel.”
While Intensives have been traditionally held in cities with mature networks, CTCAP has learned choosing a location with a new network, just on the cusp of reaching its city, tends to accelerate the growth and progress of that network. Local guests come and learn about the network and then support it. Katie Ellis, CTC Program Manager for Asia Pacific and Latin America, explains, “Local ministry leaders see they can work together with others to love their city. It’s a kick-starter for the host city. It brings leaders together from different denominations and backgrounds. They have this shared experience, and it unifies them.”
Past Intensives have been held for four weeks, but this one was shortened to two. This allowed some to attend who would not have otherwise been able to, and it forced CTC trainers to prioritize the material and contextualize for Asia Pacific. Katie says, “It helped us identify our core elements. We usually start with theology, then go into discipleship and then practical ministry concepts. This year we started with four days focused on gospel renewal.”
Ruth Leary, CTC Regional Network Manager for EMEA, assisted with the event. She’s seen the effect of gospel renewal teaching over and over. “Every person who comes to the International 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.”
All but one of the trainers were former or current church planters, which further enhanced the training. These trainers modeled openness and vulnerability as they shared 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.
One participant said, “The intensive not only provided us an opportunity to learn, but also ministered to me deeply and helped me along in the process of healing and renewal. The Intensive also helped me analyze and 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!!”
Katie says, “Church planting is hard. You can be called to a mission that is so outward, and yet you must be continually renewed by the gospel.”