Redeemer City to City International Intensive

On October 4, 17 church planters from around the world will arrive in New York City for two and a half weeks of training designed to hone their skills for planting and sustaining churches in global cities. This annual training, hosted by Redeemer City to City (CTC) and called the International Intensive, leads to the planting of new churches and is made possible each year thanks to generous gifts from donors like you.

Here is the story of one church planter you helped support from the 2015 International Intensive and details on how you can meet the incoming class of church planters for 2017.

Imagine a city more than twice as crowded as New York City. Lagos, Nigeria is the most populous city in Africa, and every year 250,000 more people move there. It’s a cultural hub that sets the direction for Nigeria. In turn, Nigeria sets the direction for Africa.

The spiritual climate is a thriving nominalism with a health and wealth gospel message. But promises delivered by this prosperity gospel haven’t delivered, and people are becoming disillusioned and leaving the church.

Femi Osunnuyi grew up in Lagos. He moved to the UK in 2007 where he lived for seven years and earned a Ph.D. in engineering. While in Manchester, England, Femi heard the teaching that God loves cities, and it really captivated his heart. He and some friends started praying for a gospel-centered movement to ignite in the churches in Lagos. He knew about CTC, so when Al Barth was speaking in Manchester, Femi attended the event.

He recalls, “I had the Rocky theme song playing in the back of my head as I rehearsed stats about Lagos, preparing to accuse Al and CTC of ignoring Africa’s largest city. But as soon as he knew where I was from, Al quoted several statistics about Lagos that I didn’t even know.” CTC had identified Lagos as a target city and was searching for the right person to plant a church there.

After experiencing true gospel renewal in their own lives while in the UK, Femi and his wife, Tosin, wanted to share this with others. In 2015, they moved back to Lagos and launched City Church Lagos in January 2017.

City Church Lagos is growing and already needs a bigger meeting place. Femi and others are actively looking, but money is a challenge. Lagos is the seventh most expensive city in the world. This is a struggle, and they would so appreciate your prayers.

Another obstacle is the pace of life. The average workday in Lagos is long. It’s not unusual for people to leave their homes at 5:30 a.m. and not get home until 10 p.m. Burnout is a huge issue.

Because the prosperity gospel is so prevalent, Femi, Tosin and others at the church have studied it extensively. Femi says, “We think the questions the prosperity gospel is asking are legitimate. We don’t engage in a condescending way. People understandably want a better life. There is a plausible logic to their thinking. We think their conclusions are wrong, but we understand how they got there. We are trying to paint a better picture. We try to come in the back and slowly teach what the Bible really says.” Their approach seems to be effective, as about 50% of their congregants were formerly part of churches that held to health and wealth teaching.

The church’s three values are: Love Jesus. Love people. Love Lagos. Femi says the first two are considerably easy to talk about. The third is the hard sell. He points to the gospel as the example. “God loved us while we were unlovely, and so we too are called to love cities that are not always lovely. We shouldn’t love the city to use it — to fulfill our dreams — to get what we can get out of it.” He says that a lot of love starts with intentionality before it moves to the heart. He sees hatred of the city slowly shifting to neutrality, and he’s encouraged.

City Church Lagos has 3 small groups, and the community is growing and strengthening. Femi says, “There’s a lot of personal renewal and community building going on, and we are looking into the mission aspect now.”

Thank you, Femi and Tosin, for answering the call to return to and love Lagos with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Participants in this year’s International Intensive Class are from: Adelaide, Beirut, Cape Town, Durban, Edinburgh,

Johannesburg, Kampala, Kiev, Londrina, Monterrey, Nairobi, Prague, Rio de Janeiro, Rome and Sao Paulo.

You will meet these church planters at CTC Sunday on October 8 (Downtown and Westside) and October 15 (Eastside and Lincoln Square) and you can support the global work of CTC through the special offering.

In addition, on October 16 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the CTC office, CTC is hosting an Open House where you can meet and encourage these church planters. See details in the Connect insert in your Sunday bulletin. Space is limited. RSVP by Sunday, October 15. If you need any additional information, please email [email protected].

The article on Lagos was taken from an article that appeared in the CTC Quarterly Snapshot.

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Articles in this Issue

Identity in Christ
Tim Keller
Formation: A new community
Bijan Mirtolooi
City Lab — Faith & Work: From Vision to Implementation
The next ten years with Hope for New York
Elise Chong