We want to be a church that accepts people on their terms, leads them to maturity in Christ, trains and equips them for ministry, and unleashes them out on a daily mission, for the glory of God.
To God be the glory: – God is worthy, we are unworthy.
As a church we want this to be the core of our existence; we want this to be the number one value in our leadership, our ministry, our motives, our goals, and in all that we do. We want everything else to be determined and measured by this. We want to see God’s glory in everything that we do, think, and dream as a church.
Accepting people on their terms: – Every saint was a sinner.
We want unchurched people to feel welcomed in our church. We don’t expect non-Christians to act like Christians. We want to teach our members that non-Christians need all of our love and grace. They need to feel like they belong here, that they are accepted, and that they are welcome to come as they are.
Leading people to maturity in Christ: – Growing people change.
We want people to experience the life-changing power of Jesus in their lives. We want them to feel accepted, but at the same time we want them to realize that the Christian life is a life-long journey that requires transformation of one’s heart.
Training and equipping for ministry: – Every member is a minister.
We want members of the body to minister to each other. We want them to discover their spiritual gifts and natural abilities. We want to help them serve out of their strengths and to allow others to help them with their weaknesses.
Unleashing for a mission: – Every Christian is a missionary.
We want our members to be on a mission daily. We want them to see it as something that is natural and normal, something that everyone is called to and should do, something that brings joy and eternal results.
Why Shostka? Shostka, where is it?
Shostka is a small town, just a little under 14 square miles in size and just under 80,000 people, located in the north part of the Sumy region of Ukraine. It was founded in 1739 as a gunpowder manufacturing town, and with demands that were fueled by the wickedness of the human heart, the town rapidly grew. In its prime it had over 100,000 in population, but with the fall of the Soviet Union, a complete halt of production, and a falling birthrate, the population decreased to 80,000 people. Shostka has 15 schools, one music school, three colleges, and one university. The majority of the population of Shostka is undergraduate, mid-income families with children. There is also a large amount of young people with no education past high school, and with the city’s low economic prospects, they get involved in drinking, partying, and gang activity.
Church in Shostka
For many years during the Soviet regime, the church was small and was forced to meet in the small house at the edge of town. There were no paved roads or public transportation in that area of town, and that would make churchgoing difficult. Needless to say, during that time all outreach programs were highly illegal and the church was forced into survival mode. In the years of 1991-92, the Soviet regime collapsed, and the church finally had a chance to thrive and flourish. Outreach programs were developed and implemented, and people flooded to church. Services were moved from the small church at the edge of town to a rental facility in the downtown area. As a result, a church of under a hundred had forty baptisms in one year. The church rapidly grew to 200 attendees and experienced a wave of God’s blessing.
By God’s mercy, the church purchased a property in downtown for the construction of the church building, and in 1995 broke ground and began construction of a church complex that would serve not just the city, but the whole region. Later, three more churches were planted in different parts of the city and many more people came to Christ.
Today, there are 79,700 residents in Shostka that are waiting to hear the Gospel. That is 79,700 more souls that Jesus died for and purchased with His blood. That is 79,700 more souls that should be on their way to heaven and not hell. Churches are struggling, straying from their goal and purpose, and becoming less and less fruitful.
At first glance, there is no logical sense to go to Shostka. The town is not that great, the people are not that friendly, the churches are stuck in a cul-de-sac of tradition, and from an outside perspective it might look like a dead-end deal. But there is more to this story.
Shostka is surrounded by a number of other towns, both smaller and greater in size, which have even greater needs.
- Yampil, 22 miles away with a population of 12,000, and a church of 10.
- Glukhiv, 25 miles away with a population of 35,000, and a church of 80.
- Krolevets, 25 miles away with a population of 25,000, and a church of 30.
- Konotop, 55 miles away with a population of 89,000, and a church of 110.
We are looking at an urban population of about 250,000 in a 60-mile radius where only 1 of every 470 people is Christian. That is less than 0.2% Christian. This is less than in San Francisco, Seattle, or Portland. This is what you call unchurched.
Shostka itself has a rate of 1 out of 266, or 0.37%. That is why it is the best launching place for the whole region. By revitalizing the church in Shostka, we can spread out to the whole region in three to four years and reach thousands of people for Christ.