Snowed every night in Seattle, Bumper to bumper out of the airport. Bumper to bumper into the airport. 300 of your closest friends to party with in the security line: at noon on a Tuesday.
Had lots of good conversations and a good training, though.
And stumbled into this interesting conversation in the security line today. Ran into a couple with a small boy who were headed to the Ukraine. Why? To attend the 14th anniversary of the "largest church in Europe" - a congregation with 25,000 members in Kiev alone, founded and pastored by a 40 year old Nigerian, Sunday Adelaja.
The name of the congregation? "The Embassy of the Blessed Kingdom of God for All Nations". Embassy of God for short. Apparently this is a new name. It used to known as Word of Faith Church.
Anyway, it started 14 years ago with 7 alcoholics and drug addicts in a little apartment in Kiev. It's a classic independent congregation. Pentecostal in worship and theology. Dynamic founder who is regarded as an "apostle". The mother church has "planted" 600 churches in 45 countries (most in Ukraine and other parts of Europe) according to their website. Feeds 1-2,000 daily. Outreaches to addicts and the poor. Television programs, tons of books, etc. The mayor of Kiev attends regularly.
And it was this church's anniversary that the smiling Seattle couple were flying off to attend. She was white, he was black. They indicated that they were part of an Embassy church plant in the Puget Sound area and that after the anniversary, they hoped to go as Embassy missionaries to the Caribbean. They were obviously excited.
I had heard of this church from a traveling missionary when I was staying in a Christian hostel in London two years ago. He clearly regarded western American Christianity as dead compared to the vibrancy he had encountered in the Ukraine,.
So I looked them up on You tube and sure enough, there were a number of Embassy videos up. I have to admit I cringed while watching it. What's with the pom-pom thing? Am I to believe that this is some kind of traditional Ukrainian religious symbol? I've never been crazy about pom poms when cheerleaders wield them. I really can't handle them at worship.
Here's a BBC report on the Embassy:
Here's a church produced video of their worship, pom-poms and all.
Remember, independents like Embassy of God now make up 20% of all Christians in the world. They are larger than historic Protestantism, larger than Orthodoxy. Second only to Roman Catholics.
They aren't going away. How can and should we respond to them?