Why would a seminary graduate, with a young family, want to move overseas and start a church in the “most atheistic city in the world”? Certainly this is not the normal next step for the average American seminary student who typically envisions ministry in an established suburban church in a Bible-belt city.
But, this was the next step for RTS Charlotte alumnus Phil Davis (class of 2003) who moved his family to Prague, Czech Republic to start a new church. And now they have a thriving ministry in this beautiful European city (and home of 14th century Reformer Jan Hus). In addition, they have been joined in recent years by two other RTS Charlotte grads Jake Hunt and Cody Janicek (I will post interviews with them at a later point).
I have begun a new series of blog interviews entitled Where Are They Now?, highlighting some of our alumni over the years. I ask each alumnus a series of questions that show how God is at work in their lives and in their ministries (for the prior installment see here and here). Phil Davis answers these same questions:
1. What are you currently doing?
We’re currently serving in Prague, Czech Republic, with Serge (formerly World Harvest Mission). I am the pastor of Faith Community Church, an international church in Prague.
2. Why did you originally come to RTS Charlotte?
My wife and I met on the mission field, and we were thinking we’d return overseas to do missions one day. I decided to attend RTS to strengthen my biblical and theological foundation in preparation for missions. However, while I was at RTS, I soon developed a heart for pastoral ministry as well.
3. Is there one thing that you learned at RTS that has come back to you as you have ministered to others? A phrase, encouragement or advice?
I’ve always been reminded of something I learned in my first year of preaching class: a preacher should exegete two things – the text and the congregation. In our context, our congregation is always changing; therefore, I’ve needed to constantly assess and understand exactly who it is that is coming to church while I also seek to understand God’s unchanging Word.
4. What do you enjoy most about your current ministry?
I enjoy the variety – both in what I get to do each day, and with whom I work. It’s a joy to catch glimpses of what God is doing and how He is working in this country, and recently I’ve enjoyed getting to meet regularly with three young Czech church-planters who share the same passion that I do.
5. What has been a struggle in your ministry?
An ongoing struggle is raising up male leaders – we need more officers and ministry leaders, which means we need to be spending more time in discipleship of our younger people.
6. If you could give any encouragement to a current student in seminary, what would it be?
My encouragement to current seminary students is to apply your knowledge to your own life and to your future flock now. As you learn – whether it’s theology, church history, or pastoral ministry – always ask yourself “How should my faith grow because of this truth?” and “How can this one day help the people to whom I minister?” Thinking this way helps move your seminary education from the merely academic and theoretical to the personal and practical.
Check out this video about Faith Community Church in Prague: