Churches in Poland: Transforming under Faithful Preaching
Despite over a thousand years of Roman Catholic influence, the true gospel is being proclaimed in Poland. Churches are being transformed by faithful preaching of God’s Word, and eager for access to more biblical resources.
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If you place a finger in the center of Europe, you will land in Poland, the eighth most populated country in the continent. Because of its geographical location, Poland has historically been among the most invaded countries in the world. In the last 400 years, we’ve either been invaded or fought for our freedom over 40 times. In fact, at the close of the eighteenth-century, Poland completely disappeared from the map for 123 years, as it was partitioned between Austria, Prussia, and Russia. And yet, Polish people maintained their identity, fought for freedom, and regained independence.
I write all this because the accomplishments of the Polish people remind me of an even greater accomplishment that’s taking place in Poland, being made by a greater person and for a greater cause. Sinners are being saved and churches are being planted and established by Christ for the proclamation of his glory. I’m immensely grateful to God that even though Roman Catholicism has dominated the land for over a thousand years, actively opposing and fighting against the true gospel, true churches of Christ still exist throughout the nation.
Of course, there remain many challenges, obstacles, temptations, and threats to the health of churches in Poland. And yet, I’m encouraged by the development and growth of healthy trends that will equip the church of the living God to be an even stronger pillar of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15).
A CHURCH CRAVING THE WORD OF GOD
Expositional preaching has been gaining more and more popularity. Thanks to the Internet, many younger men have been exposed to good preaching from around the world. Because of that, hunger for the Word of God grows, and with it these present and future pastors desire to restore a high view of the Word to their churches. Thus, more and more men are seeking ways to be trained in exegesis and exposition. The coordinator of a recent conference on expositional preaching reports:
The conference took place from Monday to Wednesday, and to our surprise about 50 people attended (50 is a lot as only 0.1 percent of the population are evangelicals), mostly pastors and church leaders. We were surprised because many of them are bi-vocational which means they had to take time off from their work in order to attend.
Samuel, a young pastor in Warsaw, shared with me that he’s been observing a healthy resurgence of Christian intellectualism among Polish Christians. Because of this trend, a growing number of Christians are less concerned with mere experientialism; instead, they desire to be grounded in the truths of Scripture through a commitment to expositional preaching and biblical theology.
Krzysztof, a long-time Baptist pastor and a board member of the Baptist seminary in Warsaw, explains, “Yes, we preach expositionally. We do so because that is the best way to provide good, solid spiritual food for believers.”
And yet, there are obstacles to a greater growth of expositional preaching, primarily our limited access to the resources and training. There are men who understand English enough to learn from English materials, but we lack an indigenous and consistent source from which men could be trained. Please pray for more resources and good training to be made available in Poland.
A CHURCH WRESTLING WITH POSTMODERNISM
Another major threat to the health of the church in Poland is the influence of postmodernism. Consequently, people are attracted to emotionalism, relativism, pragmatism, and mysticism; churches are tempted to ignore sin, minimize the significance of membership, scorn theology, blur doctrinal distinctives, and confuse the gospel in the name of “love.” As a result, ecumenism and seeker-sensitive models of church are growing.
Please pray that churches would be discerning as they’re flooded with various models and ideas, almost exclusively from the West. Pray that pastors would reject worldliness and embrace God’s design for the church.
A CHURCH DESIRING TO GROW IN HEALTH
I praise God for individual churches and movements that desire to model and promote biblical teaching about the local church. Przemyslaw, a leader in a Brethren church, shared with me:
I have not yet seen all of the nine marks lived out in a particular church. I would love that to change. That is why I distribute 9Marks books to other leaders. I have given away over a dozen. However, there is only one book available in Polish. The rest are in English. We could definitely use more books to make them available to churches.
We have been studying the nine marks in our church for two years now, [and] we have been trying to gradually implement changes in specific areas, such as meaningful membership and church discipline.
Although churches in Poland are few and their problems and threats are many, I remain immensely grateful to God for the men and women to whom he has given a desire to pursue church health according to his design.
Many churches in Poland already practice a plurality of elders, church membership, and even church discipline. However, my observation is that many of them are doing what they’re doing more out of their denominational tradition than biblical conviction. That’s why I’m grateful that expositional preaching has clearly been gaining popularity. As the Word of God becomes central, it will reverberate throughout the church, informing and shaping all other parts of its life.