Thriving not Surviving – Leadership Principles to help enable sustainable effective International Church Ministry: reflections from the Netherlands

With the church often seen as being in decline in European countries, ICs have a vital missional role in expressing the kingdom of God among internationals, as well as those native to any particular country. Many within IC ministry embrace such a view of mission, wherever they are serving in the world. Yet also there seem to be unique challenges connected with walking this out.

One aim of this paper was to investigate both the opportunities and challenges of IC ministry. Connected with this, was a desire to explore if there are leadership principles that can be drawn out for reflection on what can help towards more effective and sustainable IC ministry. Certainly for Western Europe, much of the previous relevant IC literature has been focused only within one denominational grouping. So this paper drew from across different denominational backgrounds with researched data from twenty different ICs in the Netherlands. There is so much that can be learnt from one another, regardless of what ‘stream’ we might belong to!

Whilst there will be other specific cultural factors relevant for non-European settings, the nature of multi-national/inter-cultural ministry in the Netherlands, means that there should be universal relevance for anyone reading regardless of where in the world they are serving. It is hoped that both the opportunities and challenges highlighted, as well as the leadership principles suggested can be a further encouragement and catalyst for those involved in IC ministry. I recognize that at times within the paper, possibly more questions are raised then answers given. Various aspects highlighted also need further research and reflection.

My heart is to keep exploring how we can continue following the Lord wholeheartedly, navigate the opportunities and challenges of IC ministry and see the Gospel contextualized and changing people’s lives in our IC settings and the wider communities we are within.

Andy Vince
International Church of Leiden, The Netherlands


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