Sticking to the Basics

Missionaries Steve and Christina Walent have served in Europe for more than 33 years, and in that time, through their ministry Church Basics International (CBI), they have partnered with numerous churches to help them implement positive change. The Walents are passionate about their calling to help churches “rediscover their reason for being and become a church that lives the Great Command and Great Commission.”

Together with Peter Riedl, director of consulting for the German Pentecostal Movement, Steve received training in AG contexts for church health, church transformation, and church development, which led to the founding of CBI. Walent and Riedl adapted CBI to the European context and deployed their program throughout Germany. They believe strongly that one of the reasons for their acceptance and success in Germany is because CBI is an indigenous German ministry, only related to the U.S. Assemblies of God because Steve is an AGWM missionary.

One of the challenges the Walents face in ministry is helping churches see church health as a priority. Most stagnant or declining churches in Germany have, over time, become increasingly inwardly focused and are not concentrated on reaching their communities—which are becoming increasingly secularized. Through the CBI process, they believe churches will notice their shortcomings, embrace change, and see a turnaround. Steve summarizes it this way: “When churches become healthy, they will grow.” Almost all churches are experiencing more growth than prior to the CBI process—some 10 percent growth, others up to 25 percent, and one church has almost doubled in size in just about two years. 

The Walents know they need others to make this ministry the best it can be. They have begun deploying a special church-consultant training curriculum to multiply their impact. Beginning in 2017 they started offering 15-month consultant training schools and have already trained almost 40 pastors. Their hope is to see a growing number of church consultants bring CBI to many of the 850 local churches throughout the German national movement. 

And they don’t want to stop there. Their plans include expanding the ministry of CBI throughout Europe. “Our churches need renewal and transformation in order to be effective now and prepared for the future,” concluded Steve. The need is big, but as Steve said, “Now it’s a matter of multiplying the focus and passion for helping churches get renewed and transformed so that they can be better prepared for the harvest.”