Not preaching to the choir: building missional teams

"We wouldn’t have been able to do it on our own - without Innovista and your questions." (Pastor Yaroslav)

As the Central Baptist Church in Lviv, Ukraine, approached its 100th anniversary, its leaders were grappling with a troubling reality. Although theirs was a large and established church, they felt their flurry of ministry activities lacked direction, inspiration, and impact. It seemed their exertions were bearing little fruit and they were not connecting with the younger members of the congregation. In a bid to change, Pastors Yaroslav, Bohdan and David turned to Innovista for assistance.  

Innovista Ukraine’s National Director leads a training session with members of the church.

The Tempo leadership course brought about a remarkable change. A new vision helped to transform the church from being inward-focused to outward-driven.  

‘Name and aim’ 

The secret to the training’s success is its unique learning process which empowers leaders to take strides forward. The highlight for Yaroslav was how the interactive teaching moved step by step to enable them to evaluate, reconsider, and prayerfully reflect on their ministry. Led by an Innovista trainer, their learning gave them biblical insight, practical advice, and helpful tools. In a process that Innovista’s National Director, Anatoliy Sapsay, calls ‘name and aim’, they gained greater clarity about the challenges they faced, and devised a strategy for growth. Over time, their ministry was then refined by meeting every six weeks to discuss their progress and make further plans.  

Hands-on learning helped the church leadership gain clarity about their challenges.

Team-building for mission

The Tempo course kickstarted change by inspiring the leaders to embrace a new vision for mission. A major realisation was that the church had become consumed with internal affairs, leaving them unable to engage with the world beyond their walls. For David, this vital insight came through a change of perspective: ‘Innovista gave us an opportunity to take a look at ourselves from the outside and focus our attention on the things that matter most’. To catalyse change, they redirected their effort towards growing new teams of volunteers to serve their wider community, rather than just their congregation. The ground-breaking shift that amplified their impact was embracing a small group model. It enabled the church to be more outward-focused. New groups were formed to reach and resonate with diverse individuals on a much larger scale. Fresh endeavours, like a youth sports club, were also launched, while some ministries were stopped, including four of the choirs.   

Training and ongoing support have given the church fresh insight and vision.

Witnessing during the war  

The training, which began in 2019, left a lasting legacy. During the devastating and destructive war, the church has retained its mission-focus. With so many lives damaged in the conflict, caring for the spiritual, mental and physical needs of their community has become more urgent than ever. Resources have been poured into small groups supporting the most vulnerable, such as widows, orphans and displaced people. These have been crucial in bringing God’s love and hope into the lives of those suffering most.  

Into 2024 

Faced with the new and mounting needs of their community, the leaders were eager to grow the church again. Realising they had neither the time nor ability to reassess their work, they reached out to Innovista once more. The training was a ‘breath of fresh air’ that gave them the room and resources to evaluate their ministry and plan ahead for an uncertain future. Poised for a new chapter, Innovista continues to walk with the leadership team. Amidst the carnage and chaos of the war, they remain excited about what Christ has in store for them; their hope is that countless more lives will be transformed by the God who specialises in saving souls.  

The Central Baptist Church example shows how even experienced teams benefit from fresh insight and vision. It also demonstrates how valuable long-term partnerships are for supporting Christian leaders through the evolving life of a church.   

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