city to city australia

International Intensive in New York City

Church planters from around the globe gathered in New York City in October this year for the International Intensive, City to City's training program for those starting churches in global cities.

This year City to City Australia sent Lawson and Marella Hannaford from Adelaide to take part and join with the other 22 participants from countries including Lebanon, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, Kenya, Uganda, Scotland, Czech Republic and Italy.

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"Redeemer Presbyterian hosted the intensive at their shared offices with Redeemer City to City downtown on Manhattan Island. We were joined by church planters and their wives from all over the world including Africa, Europe, South and North America and the Middle East. My wife and I were so encouraged to see people with hearts for gospel movements across the world, held together by unity in Christ and passion to reach our cities through church planting. The intensive is magnified by its location in New York which seems like every culture and city in the world has come to live in one place, so you really begin to get the idea of how God loves cities and wants us to reach cities with news of His Son. We were also blown away by the quality of the training and the trainers, this truly is world class and yet emphasising that we take the gospel seriously in our own lives before we take it to the world. What a blessing! We are truly thankful to Christ and City to City for our time at the 2017 International Intensive."

– Lawson and Marella Hannaford. Planting in Adelaide, South Australia

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2017 also marks ten years since City to City's first International Intensive. When the training first began in 2007, no curriculum existed, and there was simply no easy way to get the training out into the field. So Al Barth, Vice President Global Catalyst at Redeemer City to City, had the idea to bring the global church planters to NYC. CTC would give them key ideas to help equip them to plant and sustain urban churches.

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Today, the Intensive consists of both off-site learning elements and classroom sessions led by Tim Keller, CTC staff and various New York City church planters. Mark Reynolds, Vice President Operations & Leadership Programs at Redeemer City to City says, “The Intensive is something we’ve continued to prioritize because of the impact it has had in the lives of these church planters—both on a personal level and in the kinds of churches they are planting.”

International Intensive for Asia Pacific Planters

Last month, church planters, church-planting spouses, network leaders and returning alumni joined together for the fifth City to City Asia Pacific (CTCAP) International Intensive in Taipei, Taiwan.

City to City Australia sent planters Jeremy Tan (Redemption Hill, Sydney) and William and Lay Huan Tjoa (mosaiXchurch, Sydney) to take part in the training program held at Star City Church Bethlehem (known as Star Church). Over 100 people were in attendance representing countries including Japan, India, Australia, Dubai, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Previously held over four weeks, the program was modified to a two-week configuration to better suit those with jobs and families. This also forced CTC trainers to be more efficient, prioritise the material and contextualise for Asia Pacific.

Katie Ellis, Program Manager for Asia Pacific and Latin America, says, “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".

The CTC 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. Jeremy shares:

"It was a deeply transformative time for me personally, as we spent lots of time learning how to bring the gospel to bear on our own hearts in a way that addresses the deep-rooted idols of our hearts, so that we never stop experiencing the power, reality and joy of the gospel. I loved this emphasis on the church planter first before we even started talking about the ‘how to’s of church planting. We were also able to work through some of the practical aspects of church planting such as discipleship, evangelism, leadership development, budget and finance, and preaching, which sharpened my own thinking on what to focus on next in our own context at Redemption Hill Green Square."
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In addition: two groups of church-planting spouses participated in Parakaleo, which William says, "was one of the best things that has happened for my wife and other forgotten and unrecognised ministry partners"; some CTCAP network leaders were there to shadow and learn, so they can provide this valuable training in the future; and alumni returned for a master class.

William continues, "the encouragement from seeing so many others committed to planting disciple-making churches that plant disciple-making churches has refuelled my passion to persevere despite the obstacles".

Please pray that God will multiply the fruit of this intensive and see more churches planted in the Asia Pacific region, and many, many more coming to faith in Christ.

International Intensive for Church Planters

International Intensive for Church Planters

The International Intensive is a four-week training program designed to prepare urban church planters by exposing them to urban church planting concepts, theological resources to grow churches, leadership modules and other church planting principles...

Sarah reflects on Gotham 2014

"Gotham feels to me like spiritual bootcamp. It sometimes feels really tough but you slowly start to see the good impact in your life.

This year has been a year of grappling with deep rooted sin that I was not even conscious of previously. I have journeyed to a place of brokenness, repentance, and prayerfully begging that God would be my all in all.

I no longer want idols in my life to drive my decision-making and behaviour, but instead I want to seek God's will for my life in all circumstances - even when those circumstances include poor health, a frustrating career and broken relationships. These are moments where previously I would have turned to God in anger, and now I want to see them as an opportunity to walk more closely with Him.

I'm thankful that participating in Gotham has allowed me the space to reflect, to hear the Spirit's leading and to sharpen my thinking in the context of a wonderful community of brothers and sisters." 

- Sarah, 2014 Gotham participant

 

The gospel is the power of God for salvation, right?

Well, not quite! At least, that's not quite what the verse says. 

What Paul actually writes in Rom 1.16 is that the gospel "is the power of salvation for everyone who believes" - and that makes a great deal of difference!

You see, I think what we usually mean when we talk about the gospel as the power of God for salvation is that it is the power of God to convince people to believe. In other words, that the announcement of the gospel to unbelievers is what causes them to have faith. And, of course, there is truth in that - after all, as Paul puts it in Rom 10.14-15, "how can they believe in one of whom they have never heard?"

However, in Rom 1.16, Paul is saying that the gospel is God's power to bring people who already believe to salvation; namely, to escape from the wrath of God that is being revealed (Rom 1.18). He's not at this point talking about what causes people to have faith, he's talking about people who already have come to faith.

Why does this matter? I think there are 2 reasons.

First, according to the New Testament, the agent who works to bring people to faith is the Holy Spirit. As Jesus puts it in Jn 3.8: "The wind blows where it chooses ... so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." Of course, the Spirit uses the announcement of the saving significance of the life, death, resurrection, ascension and return of Jesus Christ; but it is the Spirit who brings new life - after all, he is the Lord, the giver of life. 

The difference here is one of control. You see, we are in control of the way we proclaim the gospel. The words we use, the ideas we put together with those words, the force with which we communicate those ideas - these are all decisions we make. And I wonder whether sometimes, when we say that the gospel is the power of God for salvation (in the sense that it is what brings people to faith), what we implicitly are saying is that if only we get the words and ideas and communication right - really, really right, perfectly faithful to Scripture in every way, with no gap or remainder - then people will surely come to faith!

Which then leads to a flip side. Namely, that if people are not coming to believe, it must be because we - or others - have not articulated the gospel accurately enough! 

Now, don't misunderstand me. I'm all for accuracy - that is, Biblical faithfulness. Our concern for accuracy must come from a deep devotion to God, so as not to be found to misrepresent him - God forbid!

But there's more to faithful proclamation of the gospel than accuracy, in two sense. On the one hand, accuracy does not replace the life-giving, faith-giving work of the Spirit - he is the one who blows unbelief away, where he chooses. And on the other hand, our proclamation needs not to be merely accurate - although it certainly needs to be that - it also needs to be intelligible. And that means not only linguistically intelligible, but also culturally and conceptually. And that means contextualisation. 

Andrew