Friday, April 15, 2011

Protestant Movement Growing In Russia

Christian Broadcasting Network

MOSCOW -- In a land where the Russian Orthodox Church dominates, one evangelical charismatic church is creating spiritual waves.

"The Protestant movement is growing very strongly," said Rick Renner, senior pastor of Moscow Good New Church.

Renner and his wife Denise are at the forefront of the movement. In 1991, the couple moved their family to what is now the former Soviet Union with the goal of reaching Russians with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Nine years later, in September 2000, they started Moscow Good News Church in the Russian capital city.

"Moscow church is approximately 3,500 people in regular attendance," Renner told CBN News. That's big for Russia, where most Protestant churches attract less than a thousand people to each of their congregations.

Reaching the Upper Crust

While the goal is to reach a broad section of those living in the Moscow metropolis, the church puts a special emphasis on reaching the upper class.

"Specifically, as a part of our vision is to reach a higher class of people," Renner said.

That's because "they need God too and there aren't many churches that they can actually feel comfortable in," he explained.

Most Russians belong to the Orthodox Church. Currently, there are an estimated 30,000 churches dotting the Russian landscape.

The church is gaining more prominence after decades of persecution under the Soviet system. Yet, this new found role isn't necessarily translating into regular attendance or observance.

"Most people don't even know the tenants of the faith," Roman Lunkin of the Slavic Center for Law & Justice, explained. "They don't have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Nowadays, it is hip to be religious in Russia."

A Whole New Experience

But Renner says something different happens at Moscow Good News. Those from an Orthodox background find the evangelical church community a whole new experience.

"Some of them are shocked!" he exclaimed. "Some of them think, 'Wow, I've only seen this in movies!'"

Along with the preaching of the Gospel, worship and style of music played in church is a big draw too.

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