They realized they had been missing something.
A group of Macedonian Baptist leaders listens to a pastor from Mississippi share about beginning discussion-led small groups. IMB missionary Jeff Williams says he hopes every Baptist Macedonian can learn to start evangelistic Bible studies outside of church walls.
A group of Macedonian church leaders gathered in 2017 in the small nation’s capital, Skopje, to talk about evangelism and church planting. But when they discussed starting new groups as a method of outreach in the European nation of 2 million, no one had anything to contribute – they had never seriously talked about it before.
A few years earlier, International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries Jeff and Amy Williams had asked a local Baptist pastor to send out one of his best couples to join them in starting a new church. The pastor hesitantly agreed.
Wanting church planting to be at their group’s core, the Williamses felt the first step was to teach Christians to lead Bible studies outside the church’s walls.
“In an Orthodox setting they’re not going to come to the church building, but you could start a Bible study with them,” Jeff Williams said of the country’s primary religious tradition. “We want to make sure our Baptist believers are able to lead new evangelistic Bible studies.”
Last year, momentum began to emerge as local Baptists attended a training about discussion-led small groups. Additionally, the local leadership of CRU (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) wants to help students start new groups. And Baptist leaders heard from Russian pastors who have started churches.
Macedonian church leaders join in a discussion about church planting after collectively realizing they had not previously been serious about starting new churches.
This openness, Williams said, is the result of decades of praying and talking about church planting in Macedonia, a Balkan nation to the north of Greece. It’s as if local Christians have suddenly awakened to the idea.
Pray that Macedonian Christians and ministry leaders will continue to catch the vision of church planting. Ask God to give them a passion for talking about scripture outside the church’s walls. Pray many Macedonians will follow Jesus as a result of this fresh awareness of church planting.
Gifts through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering support Southern Baptists who can live alongside Macedonian Christians to help them learn how to plant healthy churches and expand their gospel witness in Europe.