Imagine someone setting out to drive from Paris to Moscow. He will plot his route to Brussels, Berlin, Warsaw, Minsk and then finally Moscow. And at many times during the 30 hour drive he will have to pull off the motorway to eat, sleep, refuel the car and so on. Now imagine that every time he wanted or needed to stop and refresh he had to go all the way back to Paris. What a waste of time and money…
What is the the biggest need in Europe today? From the point of view of the gospel, it is without a doubt more gospel-centred, theologically clear, culturally engaged, missionally innovative churches. Many countries in Europe have a gospel-penetration of less than 1% of the population.
The biggest need I see in Europe is the training of potential planters, who can then be assessed & coached.
What is the biggest obstacle to the planting of such churches? There are several major obstacles. One is a lack of a compelling gospel vision in any given country. Another is the lack of people willing to sacrifice in order to devote themselves to the task – the harvest is plentiful, the workers few. Another is the lack of finances to support planters and church-planting teams. But as I travel around Europe in my role as Acts 29 Europe Network Director, the biggest need I see is the training of potential planters who can then be assessed and coached as they drill deep with the gospel in their context and reach wide with the gospel beyond their immediate neighbourhoods.
There is a growing ecosystem in the English-speaking world which is meeting this need. The advent of groups like the Gospel Coalition, T4G, Acts 29 and other similarly theologically robust entities, with good web presence and cascading influence in the churches and theological centres, has had a generally positive and significant impact on how our churches exist in the 21st century. Reading and listening to Piper, Carson, Keller over the last 20 years has rallied conservative evangelicals to Biblical theology, overflowing in mission and church-planting. Sometimes the English-speakers amongst us find it hard to realise the extent to which we have benefited from easy access to high-quality formal and informal training in our mother tongue, and the ways in which this has shaped our church cultures.
Europe has not been unaffected by this development – many people have been inspired and challenged by what they have seen, heard and read coming from these stables. There is so much to celebrate and be thankful for.
And yet. Influence and inspiration are not the same thing as appropriating knowledge, competence, convictions and character, in a profound way, such that instincts and practices are deeply affected and orientated consistently and securely towards gospel attitudes and goals. Assessing people from across this continent, as well as rubbing shoulders with planters and practitioners from different church-planting groups, has convinced me that we need to define what kind of planter we need in order to plant the kind of churches we need, and that we need to train, assess and coach these men simultaneously. And that is where Crosslands comes in.
Crosslands aims to provide excellent in-context theological training in the UK, Europe & the 10:40 window.
Created by Acts 29 and Oak Hill College, Crosslands aims to provide excellent in-context theological training and resources to churches and church leaders in the UK, Europe and the 10:40 window.
Think again of our European setting out to drive from Paris to Moscow. Imagine that that journey is metaphorically the journey for a man with a burden and a vision to plant a church in the European country where he is. He will plot his route from where he is in his character, his competence, his convictions, his knowledge, to where he needs to go. At many times during that process he will have to pause his journey to learn, grow, develop skills, get feedback, refresh and then pull onto the motorway again.
Launching today, the team at Crosslands is setting out to meet this need in a way that interrupts the journey as little as possible by delivering Gospel training when and where you need it.