December 11, 2019

In Russia, Small Groups Congress Highlights Possibilities and Potential

Natalya Semak and Mariam Ananyan, Euro-Asian Division, and Adventist Review

A recent gathering on the work of small groups in the city of Rostov-on-Don in southwestern Russia highlighted the possibilities and potential of this tried-and-true method of reaching others for Jesus.

Under the motto “You Are My Disciples,” church leaders and members from the communities across Rostov-on-Don and surrounding towns gathered for worship and training on November 9 and 10, 2019. Other participants arrived from the Rostov region, the Republic of Kalmykia, and some neighboring territories.

Singing by a combined choir and introductory prayer by Caucasus Union Mission president Vladimir Krupskyi opened the day, as members sang and prayed together.

Then came time for testimonies as veteran pastor Vladimir Pugatarev shared about recent activities by small groups in the area. Those moments included the “There Is an Opinion” youth club participants, who reported on their activities targeting younger members and interests. Caucasus Union Mission youth leader Alexandr Saharov also shared examples of productive interactions in small groups.

Social Service Included

A block of the program was devoted to social service activities on behalf of neighbors. Euro-Asia Division (ESD) Adventist Mission director Dmitro Zubkov gave examples of social service to the needy, which, he said, “is the true fulfillment of Christ’s commission.”

Also, the Adoption Support Center director Stepan Avakov told the audience about assistance to orphans, which this public organization has been providing for more than a year.

In a sermon, ESD Ministerial Association secretary Victor Kozakov shared what he called “important elements of the apprenticeship.” He discussed the Christian’s purpose and meaning in life as given by the Lord. Kozakov emphasized that God wants people to seek and find Him by helping others.

“The task of the followers of Christ is to seek and save the needy,” Kozakov said. “A person who lives only for himself, striving only for his own comfort, ends up degrading himself. If we want to develop, we must serve,” he added.

Relaunching Small Groups

Spiritual fellowship and training continued in the afternoon. According to organizers, the purpose of the congress was to renew and relaunch small groups across the region’s churches. The first part was devoted to spiritual instruction and the second to analysis of the technical aspects of creating groups.

“The Lord wants to lead us after Him, affirming others in faith and service, to inspire others with God’s living Word that changes and transforms,” said Rostov-Kalmyk Conference president Mikhail Oliynik.

Krupskyi agreed and added that spiritual motivation and fellowship are important.

“The presence of the apostles in teaching, fellowship, a joint meal, and prayer are four of the most important factors in Christian ministry,” Krupskyi said.

“A small group should be the answer to people’s internal quests,” Vladimir Arkadyevich added as he ended the session with a prayer.

During the two days of the event, speakers discussed the trends and needs of modern society, the importance of each Christian’s personal ministry, and simple steps to create small groups.

According to leaders, the event, held in a warm and friendly atmosphere, presented all its participants with new impressions and the rethinking needed for joint fruitful work.

“It is about being Christ’s disciples, sharing the message of salvation around the world as confidently as the first disciples did in New Testament times,” they said.

The original version of this story was posted on the Euro-Asian Division news site.