The beginning of what will become Innovista is a mission team working as part of a global student ministry. Jason Lane begins work with the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES) and is tasked with helping national ministries in Europe reach students more effectively.
The team focuses on providing creative outreach resources for student ministries – including a band, a theatre team and media tools. Their first major outreach takes them to Belarus where the experience amazing answers to prayer and the first seeds of Innovista’s eventual focus on young leaders are sown.
The team land on the name ‘Innovista’ for the fledgling ministry which literally means ‘a positive change of outlook’.
Teams work in student outreach in Scandinavia and Central Europe, and looking further afield. Mission teams continue to travel across Europe providing mission and training resources including the launch of the student edition of Becoming a Contagious Christian in English and Russian. The importance of having tools that are culturally relevant is evident.
Europe-wide research is conducted asking young people ‘If you could ask God any question, what would you ask?’ which results in Glad You Asked being launched in February, a DVD based tool designed to help young people explore their questions about faith.
January 2003 sees the launch of the new team in Kiev, which includes Slavic Karpyuk who will later become the first Director of Innovista Eurasia. Seeing a real need for believers in Eastern Europe and Russia to embrace relational evangelism, Innovista translate Becoming a Contagious Christian into Russian. In five weeks, Slavic travels 10,000 kilometres by train through the six biggest cities in Russia delivering Becoming a Contagious Christian training to equip Christians to bring the hope of Jesus to those around them.
Local church leaders are increasingly approaching Innovista asking for help to develop local mission to young people.
Innovista International is established as a UK registered charity and begins to have a very clear focus on training and equipping young leaders.
Glad You Asked is translated into Norwegian, Swedish and Russian and is used as a resource by young leaders to introduce their friends to Jesus in their own language.
The team in Ukraine notice that young people in Eurasia are becoming more active in sharing the gospel with their friends, and ask themselves what they can do to help facilitate that process. An evangelistic retreat is piloted and after successful testing, Innovista Eurasia launch Zerro, a culturally relevant evangelistic tool. Based around a weekend retreat, Zerro is used by young leaders as a tool for mission, to introduce those around them to Jesus. Read one girl's story of how a Zerro weekend changed her life.
The first Leading for Life event is held in 2006 and gathers 70 young leaders from 14 countries across Europe for three days of training and inspiration in Berlin, Germany. Dig through the archives to see how the very first Leading for Life made a lifelong impact on young Christian leaders.
In 2007 the Tempo leadership development programme is piloted in Austria as a way of providing mission-focused coaching for young leaders. It will become one of Innovista's most effective tools for training young Christian leaders to lead mission.
In a short space of time, Innovista launch in several new places, equipping young leaders across Europe, Russia and Central Asia to bring hope to those around them. In October 2009 Innovista Ireland launches to train and support leaders of a variety of innovative mission projects. The following year Slavic Karpyuk moves to Siberia to launch an Innovista presence there, sometimes travelling for two days on a train to equip young leaders on different sides of the region. And after working for a number of years alongside young Christian leaders in Austria, Innovista Austria launches with Johannes Hindler, who was one of the first members of a Tempo group, leading it.
Furthermore, after research to discover where young people are not being given credible opportunities to meet Jesus, the first UK Thrive Team is launched in Barton, a council estate with some of the highest rates of deprivation in Oxford. The Team move into the estate and begin to build relationships.
In 2010 Leading For Life conference comes to Central Asia for the first time, enabling young leaders of under-pressure churches to receive much needed training. In late 2012, Innovista established a permanent presence there, training young leaders of underground churches.
Innovista continue to demonstrate their partnership with young leaders, supporting them through the provision of culturally relevant resources. A new version of 'Becoming a Contagious Christian' is produced in Russian, with more culturally relevant examples and illustrations. This material is enabling new believers across to think about how to share their faith with their friends. Innovista continue to train others to deliver this training, so as to maximise the impact. Glad You Asked is improved and re-released, and continues to bear fruit as it is used by young leaders to introduce the people and community around them to Jesus.
In 2014, 1,002 young leaders were trained across Europe, Russia and Central Asia by Innovista. Read the 2014/15 Annual Review here.