The Alliance


Future of Saturation Church Planting Ministry in Russia


The Alliance for Saturation Church Planting arrived in Russia in the mid 90s, with teams in Moscow, Kazan, Izhevsk, and Petrozavodsk. The teams did everything they could to influence the national church with a vision for, and with the practical tools to accomplish, saturating Russia with churches. Networking, envisioning seminars for nationals and expatriates, curriculum development, partnerships, relationships, and more was used as the teams tried to get church planting on the agenda of denominations, churches, and individuals; and in situations where it was on agendas, tried to move it up the list of priorities. The Alliance teams in Russia contributed to the development of the OMEGA curriculum, and were able to use it in several locations.


It is impossible to know the full impact of the Alliance work in Russia. Trainers have been trained, and are training others. OMEGA has a life of its own in Russia, Central Asia and beyond. Multitudes of nationals have been envisioned, new churches have been started, and some of those churches are starting other churches. The teams have influenced many levels of church leadership, from denominational heads to regional leaders to local pastors to church planter trainers and to church planters. The Alliance teams, in conjunction with partner agencies, have creatively employed a variety of strategies, but all pointing toward the goal of a healthy reproducing church planting movement in Russia.


The work has not and is not without its challenges. The Alliance is not the only entity in Russia that attempting to assist the local church. A multitude of agencies offer seminars on a variety of topics. This, plus the Soviet love of acquiring knowledge for the sake of acquiring knowledge, has diminished the value of seminars. This has led many Alliance partners to focus on smaller numbers of people, with more of an emphasis on discipleship and deeper life change. In several contexts where a more personalized approach has been used, the ration between the number of people trained and the number of churches started has increased.

Lessons Learned (Based on Interviews with National and Expatriate Leaders)

Throughout a decade of mission's involvement in Russia, Alliance teams have learned valuable lessons. Many no longer believe in reproducible models, believing that every successful church plant is an original. Some expressed a greater appreciation for the sovereignty of God in seeing church planting movements; versus a formula of elements that guarantees success. Almost every contributor commented on the priority of having the right people present for training, and of evaluating the gift mix of potential church planters. This isn't to minimize the contribution of anyone (prayer, giving, etc.), but speaks of a recognition that the great impacts have been with people who have an evangelistic gift mix and an entrepreneurial spirit. Another insight shared by some is that the most successful church planting sites are where a national and expatriate are working together. Every national interviewed strongly emphasized the need for building relationships of trust with nationals, particularly those to whom God has already given a vision for SCP.


Alliance workers have employed a variety of models, depending on the context. While the applications vary, consist themes were building trust and earning the right to be heard, having appropriately gifted presenters in all venues (read "good speakers"), providing practical training and ideally practicum together, and discipleship/mentoring. Models include:

  • Intensive modular seminars, drawing church planters and potential church planters together for training

  • "Kitchen Table Training" where a smaller group of students gather in a non-lecture roundtable format

  • School environment, where students are trained for six-months to one-year to two-years

  • "Great Commission Youth Camps" where youth (future leaders) were exposed to SCP principles

Thoughts on the Future

Several agreed that the SCP vision is more popular today than it was five years ago in Russia, which means that the Alliance emphasis should shift to strategies and practical "how-tos" of church planting. This isn't to say that there isn't a place for envisioning, but the practical tools used to teach SCP principles can be the vehicle for communicating vision.

Specific Recommendations

  1. One dream of the Moscow team was to develop a Russian language publication (newsletter, bulletin, magazine) that would: highlight "hot spots" where things are going well, give practical "non-theoretical" input and suggestions for church planting, tell the success stories from Russia, and otherwise uphold the banner for SCP in Russia. Many agreed that this would be a valuable tool, developing a publication and then overseeing its distribution. An additional dream would be to develop a Russian language website. Many felt that recruiting this person(s) is a priority. The work would best be done from the field, and could be done by a one to two-year short-termer who has experience in publishing. They would not need to learn the language. An experienced "finisher" would be ideal for this. If there were a person dedicated to this publication, they could also be a local link of prayer needs and success stories to the Alliance partners outside of Russia.

  2. A strong recommendation from several was the development of a more practical church planting strategy handbook that wouldn't be an "envisioning tool", though the contents may include envisioning elements. Nationals suggested including counseling skills, and helping people resolve issues from their past and present.

  3. Another recommendation expressed was regionally based (versus Moscow based) refresher training for trainers who have proven fruit as a result of their ministry.

  4. Additionally, a consistent recommendation from participants is that the Alliance tries to connect with more regional groups (local affiliations that are springing up), versus working with the larger bulky denominations. Every person interviewed indicated that the Alliance should think regionally and not countrywide.

  5. An interesting recommendation that came from nationals and expatriates is to recruit and train Ukrainian church planting missionaries in stopgap situations where there is no critical mass of believers.


Daniel Downey, United World Mission
Zagreb, Croatia




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