The April edition of the Encompass World Partners newsletter celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Chateau de St. Albain, a 14th century French castle serving as a staple of European evangelism and discipleship for our worldwide fellowship of churches. Grace Church has had a special relationship with the Chateau, which serves as a community and retreat center, for several decades. For nearly 25 years, Marlin & Sue Weaver (who both serve on Grace Church staff) were responsible for the Chateau ministry, along with their 3 children. After the Weaver’s transitioned back to the United States, Grace Church continued to support another couple (Jay & Debbie Hocking) at the Chateau as they were charged with transitioning the ministry to European leadership. Many from Grace Church have been involved in supporting the Chateau through prayer, financial support, and through short-term trips to work on special projects. Additionally, the Chateau has served as a refuge for Grace Church teams returning from Africa through France!
Dave Guiles, Executive Director of Encompass, explains in the article how what was learned in the early years of ministry at the Chateau has impacted how ministry is done in Europe today. He says, “Relational bridges are a key element in our quest to disciple the nations, and are usually the first step toward launching evangelistic Bible studies.” Earlier, he described relational bridges as “neutral space where believers and non-believers can build relationships and explore spiritual themes in a non-threatening environment”. The Chateau has served as one of these spaces for 50 years, and many other European efforts are using the same model. And in this way, I believe that the Chateau has something to teach us, right here, right now!
I (Pastor Doug here) believe this is a model we should be considering in our own lives and communities, here in America. In our recent Care 2 Share series at Grace Church we were encouraged and exhorted to be active in the commission that God has given us – to reach the nations with the good news of Jesus Christ. But our culture (which seems to be heading East, following Europe’s lead), is one where we need to earn the right, through relationships, to share our stories with others! Preaching on a box in a park is no longer effective. Threatening people or utilizing scare-tactics won’t be the most effective means for presenting Truth. Rather, building these relational bridges will lead to the opportunity to share our stories with people who have not yet met Jesus, personally.
So, what relational bridges are you building today? How are you effectively exploring spiritual themes in these spaces? How can you be more passionate and effective about this process?
Tangible Step 1: Re-watch the Care 2 Share sermon series HERE
Tangible Step 2: Watch this video about France and pray, as encouraged, for the work of the gospel there.
Tangible Step 3: Come back tomorrow to learn how you can support two people from Grace Church making an investment in the Chateau ministry in just a few weeks!