Off the Bench

Off the BenchUkraine is expecting the world to descend upon it in just a few short weeks for a Europe-wide football (soccer) championship…and now suddenly, learning English has become an urgent goal. To capitalize on this peak in interest, we kicked off an evangelistic English club though our local church with a tournament theme. Each week’s lesson is hosted in a coffeehouse environment and is geared toward preparing Ukrainians to host foreign guests and communicate with them better.

This project was a great way to get the whole church off the bench and engaged in outreach. One team transforms the church into a coffeehouse each week, another prepares treats and waits on tables, and those with English ability are helping with translation when necessary. Our youth group is hosting a special series of studies in English after the club each week for extra practice. In addition we’ve recruited native English speakers from 6 missions to lead the discussion groups.

For some of the guests this has been their first introduction to a non-orthodox church, and in a country where Evangelical denominations are sidelined as a sects or a cults, this has been a valuable way to build bridges and dispel fear and misunderstanding.English Club

The church has also been encouraged by its own ability to successfully host a project of this scale and quality. When I first proposed the idea, I met with resistance from church leaders who thought it would cost too much and members who were afraid to invite their unbelieving friends to such an event. But now, the attitudes are very different. It didn’t end up costing the church anything, and the ones who were skeptical have had the most positive feedback…they are already asking that we do it again in the fall so they can invite more friends.


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