When we established CECP in 2004, it was with a vision to plant churches all across Europe. In addition to the hands-on church planting accomplished by CECP missionaries, our strategy has always included training leaders. Since our inception, we have been planning to establish a ministry training center in Europe to equip leaders for God’s harvest. It’s time to get this done.
EUROPE: NEED AND OPPORTUNITY
Some of us are old enough to remember the darkness that was the Soviet Union, an officially atheistic regime marked by cruel, state-sponsored persecution of Christians and the suppression of churches. On a mission trip to the Soviet Union in May 1990, the Lord opened a door for the gospel. The ‘door’ was simply an opportunity to preach the gospel to a room full of university students. Atheists came to Christ, students responded to the gospel, and Jean and I began to take baby steps for gospel advance in Ukraine. Over the next few years, we planted five more churches in Ukraine – and one in Spain – all of which continue to thrive.
One small step of obedience has produced exponential growth; one brief gospel presentation resulted in thousands encountering the good news of Jesus. As we celebrate this, we also look beyond to the rest of Europe. This continent needs the gospel of Jesus.
If you grew up in the Bible belt, you might think everyone has access to the gospel and that most people are Christians. This is not the case in Europe. When you think about Europe, you might think of the majesty of the Swiss Alps, Paris in the Spring, or a lazy afternoon in the Italian countryside, under the Tuscan sun. But as beautiful as Europe is on the outside, the spiritual darkness that grips it is overwhelming. Out of all the regions of the world, Europe remains the dark continent. It is deeply secular, spiritually closed, morally relativistic, and gospel resistant.
For the gospel to win in Europe, we need to equip contextually appropriate church planters and missionaries. This is why we launched a ministry training center in 2017. We have developed a comprehensive training program that not only lays biblical foundations and builds healthy theological perspectives, but our ministry school also equips leaders with practical skills and dynamic spirituality to plant, lead, and grow Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered, contextually appropriate churches. In these first four years, we have equipped over 60 church planters, evangelists, and missionaries from more than 30 churches in 15 nations. But now it is time to establish a home for our school. In partnership with Centrepoint Church in Bathgate, Scotland, we are raising funds to purchase St. David’s Church in Bathgate, Scotland as the permanent home for our school of ministry.
The St. David's Story
If we’re going to reach Europe, we need to reach places like Bathgate. This strategically-located town is a microcosm of the secularization that has happened across Europe. At the beginning of the last century, multiple churches filled the town center. Churches grew so rapidly that St. David’s Free Church demolished its 400-person building and in 1904, rebuilt it in the same location with room for 700 people.
This iconic church, built by an award-winning architect in the center of Bathgate, became an apostolic sending church – planting other churches, establishing gospel missions, and ministering to the down and out in the town. It became a beacon of gospel hope in the midst of a working-class mining town. But eventually, the light of the gospel faded as the church over the decades grew old and small.
Sadly, it closed its doors in 2007. At its final worship gathering, the history of the church was recounted, and this simple statement was made: "St. David’s was built for one purpose: for Christians to meet together to worship in God’s house."
And so this building – St. David’s in Bathgate – was built for God’s glory, built for worship, and built for Christians to gather to celebrate God and enjoy him and his presence in fellowship with others.
But when this church closed in 2007, the building was sold to a businessman who turned it into a nightclub and a cinema. Rather than being filled with praise and adoration of our glorious king, St. David’s has become a place of profit. It was built for one purpose, now it's being used for another.
This story has been multiplied across Europe: the light retreats, the darkness comes in, and God's people stand on the sidelines feeling powerless to respond. But God has a better way.
Redeem St. David's
Years ago we had plans developed for a new building to be built in Scotland as a home for our school of ministry. Now, instead of facing the challenge of the regulatory red tape, intensive time commitment, and high financial cost that comes with a new building, we are planning to redeem St. David’s so that we can carry on advancing God’s gospel and training leaders for effective ministry – here in Scotland and across Europe.
Even though – like Abraham being willing to sacrifice Isaac – this new building would have been expensive and costly, requiring great sacrifice – we had been moving forward because we felt this was the right thing to do. But like Abraham with his knife raised, ready to make the decisive move, the Lord has provided the St. David's building - a ram in the thicket, and a better option.
We recently found out that St. David’s is on the market – the owner of the Bathgate cinema is retiring and selling his business. After an intense period of due diligence surveying the land, valuing the building, discussing this with our leaders, and engaging outside voices of wisdom, we believe God has called us to buy and redeem St. David’s – to re-establish this house of God for its original purpose. This beautiful and iconic building will serve as a base for training and sending missionaries out into God’s great harvest in Europe.
|St. David's original condition||St. David's as a cinema|
This is a big project, but the good news is that we are not on our own. God promises in Isaiah 61:4 that those anointed by the Holy Spirit will
build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.
This is what God is calling us to do – to rebuild the ancient ruins and raise up the former devastations. We believe God is calling us to buy St. David's, to redeem it for his glory, and to establish our ministry training center here.
- First, it’s in a better location– rather than being on the periphery, it’s right in the heart of the town – the very center - giving us an accessible and highly visible platform to spread the gospel. Not only is this the most strategic location in this town, but also in the heart of Scotland, within an hour of the nation’s two major international airports.
- Second, it’s better stewardship: St. David's is less than half of the cost of the Wester Inch option. The new build would have cost us around $2,000,000. We hope to purchase and renovate St. David’s for around $875,000. Imagine being able to buy an iconic church building that will serve as a ministry training center, touching the continent of Europe for decades to come – for only $875,000.
- Third, it’s a better timeline: the new building would have taken us years to accomplish as we hurdled the barriers of planning permission, fundraising, and building. St. David’s is ready to buy now - we can accomplish this project much sooner.
- Fourth, the St. David’s option will enable us to conduct better training – every minister, missionary, church planter, and evangelist equipped at our School of Ministry will be trained with a vision that pushing back the secular darkness of Europe is possible with the Centrepoint Bathgate congregation ready to do the same from its new home.
But beyond all of the practical benefits, this is about the glory of God. By redeeming a house of God for gospel ministry, we are making a prophetic declaration that God’s glory will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.
It’s time for our CECP partners to join our faith and our financial resources to redeem St. David’s and restore this house of God to its original intention.
It’s time for us to reach Europe from the heart of Scotland. God is going to use our prophetic act of rebuilding the ancient ruins and re-digging wells to spark revival, transform Scotland, and launch gospel advance across Europe.
The Action Plan
We need to act now – powerfully – decisively – intentionally – to get this done. We need to act now before another business swoops in to purchase this iconic building.
If we all do everything we can - now - we can get this done. This is a time to write the biggest check for the kingdom of God that you have ever written. By making a sacrificial gift, you will make a prophetic statement that the light is coming and that the darkness is fleeing.
As we redeem St. David’s for the glory of God, we’re going to see his glory break out all across Europe. You can sow a seed, the fruit of which will echo in eternity. Don’t be timid – in a spirit of prayer and in humility before God’s holy presence, we need you to make the biggest contribution you’ve ever made.
Now is the time for action. Please prayerfully consider joining us in this timely, strategic, and prophetic project. Let’s get this done.