n innovative church plant project geared to reach the secular mind is adding to the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Madrid, the capital city of Spain. The Zero Church initiative—or simply Zero, as its members and supporters know it—looks to connect people who may have never been in a church with their inner need for a Bible-based spiritual experience.
“People may think that they don’t need to develop their spirituality, but I think human beings have always been the same,” said church member Ana Lugo. “They need a spiritual life, but we need to connect with them by using their language, and I think Zero is fulfilling that role.”
Church plant pastor Jonathán Contero concurred. “The goal of Zero Church is to be attractive for almost everyone while not giving up our principles and fundamentals as Seventh-day Adventists,” he said. “At Zero, we facilitate moments of fellowship, of real brotherhood, when by knowing each other better, we may foster a better relationship with our Lord.”
Countdown to Zero
Contero explained that with its current rejection of religiosity and an overwhelmingly secular spirit, Europe exhibits great challenges for sharing God’s Word. “The mission Jesus Christ gave us of preaching the gospel ‘to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people’ demands a creative and imaginative effort,” he said, “as we try to reach all those who have opted out of God in their lives.”
So, in the context of Mission to the Cities—a Seventh-day Adventist Church initiative to reach billions of people living in urban settings, which is overseen by Global Mission leaders at the General Conference—an initial group of volunteers launched a new church plant in 2015. In October 2016, the initiative was relaunched in a remodeled, larger location. At that time leaders and members chose to give the initiative an intriguing, distinct name, and so Zero Church was born. The project has garnered the all-out buy-in of leaders and member volunteers.
“I think Zero is needed so those who are considering for the first time whether God can become part of their lives may understand right away that it’s possible,” said Marta Tejel, a church member volunteer. “We’d like them to start including a spiritual dimension in their lives in an easy, comfortable, and contemporary way.”
Leaders agreed. “Zero tries to share the gospel message in a clear, contemporary language, in a way that people not acquainted with God’s Word may find attractive and friendly,” they said. “The church plant strives to tear down walls, prejudice, and preconceived ideas and to rediscover the Jesus of the Bible."
An Action-Oriented Church
Contero explained that Zero is a call to service, fellowship, and preaching. “Our primary goal is growing up by making disciples who may choose to commit themselves to God,” he said. “Thus, every activity is geared toward a practical, action-based type of Christianity.”
The Madrid church plant has developed several projects of social support, which include assisting at-risk children and children who have chronic diseases, giving a hand to refugees, visiting the sick, helping the homeless, and organizing camps for children who have disabilities.
“In Zero we believe in outward service, in working to benefit others,” said Guillermo Carbonell, a church member. “It’s the reason we partner with associations working with children and refugees.”
Your donations to Global Mission and the Annual Sacrifice Offering support church planting projects around the world. To learn more about Global Mission, please visit Global-Mission.org.
“The goal of the Zero Church is to be out sharing hope and the good news,” said Stefan Ladovic, a young member. “At the same time, we want to find a way for people to feel part of our community.”
It’s an approach, Ladovic continued, that benefits not only community residents but volunteer members too. “From the very beginning, I found out that I could take on an active role,” he said. “It was the crucial motivating factor that prompted me to stay.”
Ladovic shared how in the past, he felt he had some talents he could use to benefit others, though he didn’t know how to use them. “At Zero, I found out that it was possible to use my talents for service,” he said, “and I would like others who may be feeling the same to give it a try.”
It is this nonthreatening approach that is drawing secular and religious people from various traditions to the Madrid church plant.
Take Esther Suárez, for instance, a nonmember volunteer.
“I discovered Zero at a children’s camp,” she said, explaining that at the beginning, she was wary and even scared of Adventists.
However, Suárez says she met “wonderful people” who were willing to give all they had in exchange for nothing. “And I saw children leave that place so happy that I felt compelled to become part of it.”
Reprinted with permission from the Adventist Review. Special thanks to Hope Media Spain and Spanish Union News. Photos: Zero Church, Facebook.