Over their two decades of international ministry in Europe, Terry and Ruthanne Hoggard watched the gradual transformation of Europe from a continent of independent nations with national currencies, languages and cultures, to a continent working toward a unified political, social and geographic landscape through the European Union (EU).
With the continued expansion of the EU and increased immigration to Europe from the world over; more and more, Europeans are embracing internationalism while internationals are transitioning to European culture. This historical phenomena has created a thriving environment for international churches to grow and prosper.
The Hoggards responded to this trend by joining with the Assemblies of God World Missions to create the Fellowship of European International Churches, which they led from 2004-2013.
Since 2012, the Hoggards have extended the original vision of FEIC and formed the Global International Church Network (GICN) in order to help strengthen other regions of the world in forming relational networks.
“Answering The Call To Be Relevant & Redemptive…The Importance of a Global International Church Network”
By Terry Hoggard
Wednesday, May 26, 2015
What got me involved in international ministry was the idea of being redemptive and relevant. When I graduated from Bible school, it was just becoming commont for churches to have associate pastors. Some of my fellow Bible school graduates went to churches and worked for pastors who weren’t used to managing staff – this was problematic.
I saw guys who were full of confidence – and certain they could make a contribution to the Kingdom – but they were shattered and their confidence was gone. I went to Italy wanting to work with pastors as they shaped their calling. At that time, Italy had 29,000 unreached cities with no evangelical church. Although the plan was approved, it was disapproved in short order. The national director asked me to change my plan. Remember wrestling with God.
After a conversation with the national director, I asked if I could lead an international church. He said ‘ok’ and from time to time would ask me ‘how’s my experiment going’?
As the church was developing, I was meeting people who came from another country and would be going to another country. I began to realize it’s not about immigration but about migration. In today’s world we have a high-level of cultural awareness, which means we also have a culturally-enhanced faith.
So, our journey led us into international church ministry; which led us from Rome to Brussels; which led us to see that international churches were becoming a trend. In 2003, we were given a mandate during a meeting in Slovenia to move toward developing an international church network. We began that network in 2004 with 12 churches. We now have 70+ churches in 37 nations.
We created a summit event in Vienna, Austria that was scheduled in October (week #42) each year. During the 2011summit, a strong word came forth that we should communicate to other international churches in the world about what we’re doing in Europe.
In 2012, we got permission to put together a proposal for a global network.
Over the years, we have developed relationships with other European organizations such as the Pentecostal European Fellowship of which FEIC is the now the resource for international church development. We have also found ourselves interfacing with the national church in many countries who are seeking our help in how to reach internationals in their countries.
Some the wording we use to describe FEIC:
We’re intentional, inviting and we’re inclusive.
We don’t celebrate culture, we celebrate diversity.
We use the metaphor of a tapestry of languages, etc.
That’s Europe – but you have to determine what your regional network will look like. Our desire is regional empowerment.
Our intentional desire is to establish visibility, encourage vision, and enhance vitality. Vitality is what you get when you have satisfied what God ordained in this house.
Want people to go to one place where they can locate international churches.
We offer an interactive forum page where we can engage with other people doing like-minded ministry and learn from them.
Also created a resource page.
We’re meeting twice a year in Europe (our annual summit and an annual retreat held in Italy). We have the gift of geographical closeness. We can get almost anywhere in Europe on a 2-hour flight. That might not be possible with your network. But it will still be relational because that what brings us together.
We enhance vitality by offering opportunities for coaching, mentoring, and engaged support.
We want to do anything we can to inspire regional development.
Various thoughts about the strength that international churches can bring: I think God takes people out of cities and places where the gospel isn’t apparent and puts them in cities where there are churches. The redemption process is such that God will move heaven and earth to redeem men.
Revival potential – the Africans want to pray at least once a month all night long. Africans are begging God for revival in Belgium. God is revitalizing Europe by sending people that normally wouldn’t be there.
We see restoration – young guys who get away from home and God, but find their way back to the church.
We should know our cities like no one else – know the numbers – be able to talk about refugees, human trafficking.
In Rome, Mike from Tanzania – physically sick. Diabestes unmanaged. Came to Rome to visit – ‘most of you know I’m a newspaper journalist. But that’s not my calling. My calling is to preach Jesus to the herdsman in the high pastures. Sometimes we get our calling off. I get sores when walking – God why don’t you give this work to someone else? God said, ‘I cant do that because I’ve chosen you for this work.’
My daughter received her call in a service in Rome. Had we not been there, her spiritual destiny might have been different.