Church Planting in the Baptist Union of Poland
Church Planting in the Baptist Union of Poland
The Baptist movement in Poland is nearly 160 years old and its origins date to the activity of Johann Gerhard Oncken, Hamburg (Germany) who in the middle of the 19th century had planted the congregations among the German speaking people who inhabited the territories of East Prussia (now Poland). The date of 28th of November 1858 marks the beginning of the Baptist movement on native Polish territories when a country teacher Gotfryd Fryderyk Alf (1831-1898) was baptized in Adamow together with a group of other believers after having experienced a spiritual awakening through the reading the Bible. Subsequently the first Polish speaking Baptist congregation was planted and a spiritual movement began growing dynamically despite numerous repressions.
The period between the two World Wars was very fruitful for the Polish Baptists who successfully ran the missionary work and organized a theological seminary, a publishing house, a hospital, an orphanage and a home for the aged. The 1938 statistical report mentions the number of 16 thousand baptized members (30 thousand with families and friends). The monthly magazine Slowo Prawdy (Word of Truth) has been published since 1925 until now…
The 2nd World War had seriously decimated the Baptists and the post-war Communist Regime tried to impose an atheist ideology on the nation. In the 1950’s the oppression was hardest as all churches were under strict communist surveillance and some leaders were arrested. But in spite of that the Baptists steadily rebuilt its membership reaching over 2 thousand in 1960’s. In the 1970’s the Church managed to develop a publishing activity, as well as lively work with children and youth. Also the evangelistic crusade of dr. Billy Graham in October 1978 became possible. This all resulted in the conversions of many young people and their subsequent involvement in the Church life. For more information visit the website www.baptysci.pl/english
The population of Poland is about 38,5 million and almost 90% are nominal adherents of Roman Catholicism. The Baptist Union is comprised of 90 established local churches that include over 5 thousand baptized members. Currently there are about 20 new church plants and several of them have been facilitated by EBF.
Church Planting is an important component of Baptist union’s strategy and the crucial role play leaders who represent new generation, like Lukasz (26) who together with his wife Ola started cooperating with the 5N Church www.k5n.pl (largest Baptist congregation in the city of Poznan) led by pastor dr. Piotr Zaremba. The couple started animating a Bible study groups among students as Poznan is an important centre of academic life of western Poland. Their goal is to build up a healthy Christian missional community that grows in faith and multiplies in numbers. The basic methods are: group meetings on Sundays and one-to-one discipleship. During the week they also meet for a Bible study and an English Club where the regular attenders can also invite newcomers.
Lukasz wrote in his report in 2014:
Our group draws about 50 people on Sunday and we influences about 100 people. Our basic method of work is to organize students in groups that meet during the week focusing on fellowship. We also organize special meetings for men and woman where believers may bring their friends. In addition I lead a Youth group that meets weekly (ages 13-19) and there are at least 15 kids present every time.
Our group is very young. I am 25 years old and other leaders are my equals. Most of our people were not raised in Protestant Churches and we try to create a culture-friendly environment of faith. At the same time my focus is to preserve the biblically sound teaching. Besides that we organize outreach events for men and women. For men these events include: paintball, laser tag, canoeing, watching films etc. Similar activities for women are: open psychology lectures, community baking, crafts workshops etc. Besides that we organize open rock concerts that are well attended.
Lukasz also wrote in 2015:
Since last report there are 3 new girls attending our meetings as they became Christian and are part of discipleship group. We managed to organize a country-wide conference that was attended by 120 people. It was a time of encouragement, fellowship and learning. Last winter we also organized a week long skiing camp which became excellent occasion for Bible centred discussions. Since than 4 new people visited Sunday services regularly and 3 of them joined discipleship groups.
We organized two local conferences - about 50 people attended as we talked about utilising our potential and develop relationships with others. We also organized a retreat for our leaders and focused on the developing of discipleship groups. We have now about 15 small discipleship groups. Our vision is to teach people discipleship, share the Gospel and multiply groups. I myself attend one group and lead 3 groups. We did a couple of outreach events – talking to people in the streets and in dorm-rooms.
Pray for an openness of the people of Poland to the message of gospel as this is nominally religious nation being currently under a strong influence of secularism. Pray also for Lukasz and other young missions minded leaders who have vision for church planting that they may be successful in reaching out to the multitudes.