Originally published in the Midwestern Magazine, Issue 42
Midwestern Seminary exists for the Church. Because of our calling, we enjoy highlighting the many healthy churches around the globe that are pastored by our graduates. Grace Church, located in Amsterdam, Netherlands, is one such church. Planted and pastored by Midwestern alumnus Corey O’Grady, Grace Church is now crossing the four-year mark as a congregation.
MBTS: Corey, can you tell us a bit about the origins of Grace Church?
Corey O’Grady: Grace Church began in the fall of 2016 with a handful of people meeting in our living room for Bible study. The church officially launched in February 2017. That group of 17 initial members desired to be a gospel-shaped community that led people to follow Jesus in all of life. Since then, we have seen God abundantly bless us with both numeric and spiritual growth. Currently, Grace Church is made up of more than 100 people from over 30 different countries. The church is led by a team of three elders, two of whom were trained and installed from within our church membership.
MBTS: What is your vision and aspiration for Grace Church?
CO: My greatest aspiration is that God will find Grace Church faithful. We believe that being faithful in Amsterdam means pursuing both local and global opportunities. Locally, we plan to start a second church in the western part of Amsterdam. This area contains the fastest growing neighborhoods in the city, and we have several members already living in that district. Long-term, we would like to see a network of churches planted throughout the Amsterdam metro area. The city also provides us with global ministry opportunities. Amsterdam is diverse and so is our church. This has led us to offer ministry internships for future church leaders and pastors from countries all over the world. Continuing and expanding our internship program is part of our vision for having a global gospel impact.
MBTS: Often the depiction of Europe’s spiritual landscape can be pessimistic. In contrast, what is something that encourages you about being part of a church in the Netherlands, in particular, or in Europe in general?
CO: In the Netherlands there has been a shift in the religious landscape. For several decades, atheism or agnosticism was the fastest growing worldview. That is no longer the case. The fastest growing worldview is now a view called “ietsism,” which is Dutch for “something-ism.” Many people are rejecting the atheistic beliefs they often witnessed in their parents. Instead, there is an increasing number who believe something is out there, but they seek to discover that “something” on their own terms. This turn in the religious landscape is actually encouraging. It is leading to more spiritual conversations than in previous years. We are praying for continued opportunities to point people away from the void of atheism, away from the uncertainty of ietsism, and toward the fulfillment and assurance of knowing our Triune God through Jesus Christ.
MBTS: There are a number of Midwestern Seminary and Spurgeon College students interested in ministry in Europe. What advice would you give to them as they plan and pursue such a venture?
CO: Ministry in Europe is harder than you think, but more needed than you can imagine. I often tell people that working in Europe is “sneaky hard.” It is not difficult because of a lack of clean drinking water or poor infrastructure. It is hard because the culture is not simply unaware of Christianity. Most people here have strong and negative presuppositions about Christianity. Ministering in a spiritually dark place like Europe is hard, but it is needed. By the grace of God, we have seen how a biblical church can be a city on a hill. The difficulty is worth it when you hear someone say, “I have never heard anyone talk about Jesus like that before.”