Faith For Growth (with Andrey Bondarenko)

Andrey Bondarenko has pioneered and now leads a group of churches and church plants in Ukraine, Russia, India and other nations. Many of these churches are located in areas that have been ravaged by war, primarily due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and some are in places where their faith is opposed by the new government. In this hangout, Andrey talks about Faith for Growth.


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Andrey's Context and Faith For Growth

  • Andrey leads a movement of churches in East Ukraine that have also planted into India and Nepal.
  • After a time of lots of growth for Andrey's church (doubling every year for 4-5 years) this growth slowed down and almost stopped.
  • When this happened it caused them to stop and ask a lot of questions - in the middle of the growth there is a lot less time for these questions. 
  • God spoke to Andrey about not leading a megachurch but being a base church that plants lots of churches and raises up lots of teams.
  • The main bases of faith for growth are God's word in Scripture and prophetic words that bring wisdom and courage.

God's Foundations For Expectation In Scripture

  • Isaiah 53:11-12 - Because of what Jesus has done on the cross, he will see many saved people. It is his inheritance. We have been sent as his messengers. 
  • Isaiah 54:1-3 & 55:1-13 - This shows the order of God's plan. Jesus did his work on the cross. The next chapter gives us the expectation (Paul applies it to the church) - we must extend our expectation for saved people. Then in chapter 55 is the call for thirsty people to come. 

God's Foundations For Expectation In Prophecy

  • God had been leading Andrey's churches prophetically to send people to India.
  • But then the war started and there was a loss of resources - people, finances etc.
  • One time they were sitting round, talking and praying about it. They asked each other whether they had faith for it. They concluded that God wanted them to do it, so they made the decision to do it. 
  • They could afford to buy the tickets, but no money to help them rent a flat etc. The only reason to do it was confidence that God was sending them.
  • Every month they have been able to provide - often miraculously and/or last minute.
  • They have seen many new disciples and multiplied to 25 groups/churches within 4 years.
  • People have received the vision of the gospel going from nation to nation and have gone to plant in Nepal.
  • Prophecy is so important - prioritise praying with your team and personal time with God.
  • We are called to be obedient more than we are called to be productive or effective.
  • Often people change strategies or models just because something doesn't work. But if you listen to God he will give us a clear strategy and ideas.
  • It takes time. Spend time in quiet with God just waiting. This shows God that we are really his. 

Three Important Factors

  • Key People - Sometimes if you have the wrong people in place it doesn't work (this isn't saying bad people - just the wrong people)
  • Right Place - Sometimes the place is crucial in whether we gain traction or not. God can prophetically guide this.
  • Right Method - Sometimes we try to replicate our previous experience, but God has a lot of new ideas!

Understand Seasons

  • For a church, there is a season for sowing and there is a season for reaping.
  • When it is winter and nobody is growing, it is time to prepare - build structures, train people, etc.
  • Peter Wagner has done studies showing that 95% of churches in the world are less than 50 people. He also found that every new church has the potential to grow to 50 people.
  • If you can't see growth where you are, plant and you will grow the new plant up to 30. Don't wait until you grow before you plant. 
  • The best strategy to grow is planting new churches.
  • There are also season for a nation. Apostles and prophets can help us connect to what is happening all around the world.

Q&A

1. How did you come to lead a church so young? What did you expect in the early days?

  • Andrey started preaching and teaching at 16 because of the unique situation after the fall of the Soviet Union.
  • He was one of the few with a Sunday School background.
  • It was a time with tens of thousands of new churches being planted. 

2. What advice would you give to your young self?

  • Don't stop.
  • If something doesn't work, leave it.
  • Seek God.
  • Look around.
  • Try things.

3. How do you choose new leaders? How do you develop them?

  • The expectation (even from society) is different in different contexts.
  • Faithful
  • Teachable
  • Thirsty for truth and the Holy Spirit
  • Loving people

4. Where does faith and trying new things meet?

  • Faith is about developing an expectation of progress - but it doesn't mean that every step along the way will be successful.
  • Because of the cross, we expect to see growth and victory, new leaders and new churches.
  • We don't always know how and so we try things.

5. How do you keep people around you with a high expectation in seasons of sowing?

  • It should be part of the culture that obedience is more important than fruitfulness.
  • It is easy for leaders to become way to pragmatic.
  • We should base our decision on God's will, not just on what works.
  • The fruit may come in many years or even after we have passed on.

6. How does a new church plant start to get a vision for the nations?

  • Find someone who is doing it.
  • Pray, ask for news, invite them, send them on short trips, send money.
  • This start will lead to big involvement in mission.

7. How does the truth that Jesus has the nations as his inheritance change the way we pray?

  • We can often feel fear when we think of the dangerous places - as though church is God's territory, but the rest of the world is the devil's.
  • This is not true - it is all God's.
  • Starting this point makes it much easier to pray. 

8. How can you tell where is the right place?

  • It's not one specific thing.
  • Man of peace.
  • Clear prophetic word.
  • Very quick fruit when we share the gospel.
  • You have to see something or have confidence in the call.

9. How much do you figure out your method before you go?

  • Sometimes before going, God gives a clear understanding.
  • If not, look at who is in your team and try things - see what has fruit.
  • It is good to be willing to make mistakes.