“Church and its Members” Conference
On the 17th of February we as a church hosted our first ever conference. It was on the church and the importance of membership. Arman Aubakirov from 9Marks, came to speak along with myself and our elder, Timur. The turnout and the response of the audience surpassed our expectations. There were 53 attendees. Among them were the elders and members from 4 different churches in Almaty. Our main goal was to give a biblical warrant for membership. We aimed this conference mainly at the members of our church. Yet, when we shared the idea with some of our friends from other churches they voiced a desire to join us at the conference. Even 4 elders from ‘House on the Rock’ Presbyterian church in Kyrgyzstan, an elder from a Presbyterian church in Siberia and one member of a church in Moscow all attended. That made our conference truly international.
Most of the churches in Almaty suffer from a lack of biblical understanding of what the church is. So, the conference sparked much interest and hopefully a desire to grow in that area. When we asked if anybody had ever attended or heard about a conference on 'the church', nobody raised their hands. So, we might say that our conference on the church was in a way a pioneering work in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The atmosphere at the conference was friendly, inquisitive and inviting. The whole church came together as one to host the conference. It was great to see how the members of the church loved, cared and helped each other. I believe that that in itself displayed the beauty of the church which we tried to communicate from the pulpit.
I believe that we reached our 3 goals that were set for the conference. The first was to present the biblical warrant for church membership. We definitely did that. People were and still are asking many questions in relation to that theme. As for the second goal, which was to create a platform in Kazakhstan where believers would be able to get help, assistance, advice and resources on reformed theology, we made some progress too. Our Youtube channel where we post our sermons and conference addresses (only audio) is getting more subscribers, which is a good sign. I even got a positive comment from a person who didn’t attend the conference but heard about it from a friend and listened to the conference addresses online. Isn’t that something! Another result of the conference is that a local leader has started meeting with me and our elder to find out more about ecclesiology and leadership. I believe that more remains to be seen. We definitely reached our third goal, which is to build trust among different churches, because I am scheduling meetings with the elders of two churches this week. We will talk about the ways to deepen our partnership.
We have learned 3 good lessons. First, we don’t need some world-acclaimed speakers to see God work in his church. People came for the message, not for the speaker. We can say that with certainty because most of the attendees didn’t even know Arman, me or Timur.
Secondly, despite people’s general ignorance on the topic of church membership, they were hungry for the Word and eager to learn. While there are some zealous Christians in Almaty, they need more training so that they would not divert into theological error. The church can and must be such a guarantor that will teach and equip believers to stay faithful to God through being faithful to His bride.
Yet another lesson that we learned is that there is a great need in biblical teaching on the church. We realize that one conference or one seminar will not solve the problem. We need to keep teaching and displaying what the church is. Please pray that God would bring much fruit out of what took place at the conference.
I turned 37. My beautiful wife surprised me with a birthday party to which she invited our small church. Not everybody could come but the celebration was superb. It was all a surprise to me. Thanks to my lovely wife. When I turned 33 my friend at the seminary asked me a question, “What have you accomplished in your life so far?” Before I gave him the answer, he meditatively said, “Jesus would have saved the world by that age.” Praise God that we may rest in Christ’s finished work.
Please pray that:
- We would be patient and wait upon the Lord
- God would bless our partnership with Bagid
- God would bring much fruit from February Conference
- We would be bold in sharing the Gospel with the unbelievers (here are the names of some: Bahytzhan, Mark, Christian and my brother Igor)
- God would be glorified in our conversations and meetings with others (Levon, Violetta, Danyk, Timur)
- God would bless our discipleship efforts (Nurmuhan, Oleg, Ilya)
- God would be glorified through our translation project
- God would build his church in Kazakhstan