FEIC Member Church Spotlight
International Church of Leiden
Pastor Andy Vince
Share a brief overview of the history of your church and where it is today.
ICL was begun in the home of Tim and Marketa Southerland in 2004. The initial team was comprised of two AG missionary couples and a Dutch missionary couple. The church began organically with a lot of prayer and openness to see who the Lord would bring. With growth, they moved to the Holiday Inn and then to a local school. In 200?, Helen and I moved from the UK with our children to take on the leadership of the church. Today, the church continues to serve as part of the body of Christ in the Leiden area. Many nations and church backgrounds are represented and with it being a university city, it is quite a fluid congregation. On Sundays including children and young people, around 200 attend.
What is the next step for you guys in terms of growth and future?
There are a number of key areas:
* A deepening of corporate prayer life and knowing who we are in Christ and being able to share this with others
* How to see internationals including students in the Leiden area being more effectively reached
* Further development of a Dutch speaking initiative flowing out of the church focused on a bi-weekly kids club
* Support of outreach in an area immediately north of Leiden
Describe your church in terms of ‘international-ness’.
As with many ICs, ICL includes people from many different nations. At one of our baptism services in the summer, four continents were represented in four lives!
In our last survey (2015), the average time of an international being in the church was 2.18 years compared to 4.78 years for those who are Dutch (who make up about 43% of the congregation).
The variety is also reflected in church background stated in the survey:28.4% of total from Reformed background, 16% Pentecostal/charismatic, 14.5% from Catholic background. Other 41.1% includes various church streams.
We love the mix – – great opportunity for diversity around unity in Christ!
Tell us about some challenges you have led your church through in the last few years.
One of the challenges (which is on-going) is how to be kingdom people – to put Christ first and bring our nationalities/backgrounds (both the good and bad points) to the cross.
Connected to this is how to ensure that peripheral matters do not skew us away from Christ at the centre. When you mix in different cultures this adds to the complexity there can be. It is not a big issue but an example is a recent discussion among leaders about Halloween. It illustrates the call to truly hear from one another and understand different perspectives whilst engaging with Scripture.
Another on-going challenge is leading the congregation in the midst of it being very fluid. Among our internationals there is around a 30% turnover per year. So the call includes:
Helping people to see the mission opportunity of equipping and then sending people on to other nations
The importance of building relationships whilst people are here
And embracing being ‘planted’ in the Leiden area to live for Christ, for however long someone is here. To not just see Leiden as somewhere they are passing through.
There is a lot more I could write including about the question of how to help our Dutch members to keep thinking internationally but also being empowered to reach their Dutch contacts.
How can fellow FEIC churches pray for you and your church?
For the church: to see internationals including students in the Leiden area being more effectively reached; and further development of a Dutch speaking initiative flowing out of the church focused on a bi-weekly kids club; and support of outreach in an area immediately north of Leiden.
For Helen and I personally – a sense of the Lord’s leading, grace and empowering for the coming years being here. For more relational encouragement also.