For dialogue groups that would like to explore the great stories and prophecies of Daniel – click here for reading guides and a Facilitator’s Guide.
To share the rich meaning of John’s Apocalypse: ‘the revelation of Jesus Christ’ (Rev 1:1) – click here for verse-by-verse & topical reading guides, supporting PowerPoint Presentations and a Facilitator’s Guide.
Is there a most proven method of successful church planting?
During the 80s and 90s the emphasis was on planting community churches. This involved complex programming and community centre type properties – both expensive.
Since the late 90s the model has been smaller groups and more relational activities – rather than programs. The environment has also changed – but small groups and relational activities are proving more successful in reaching unchurched people today. This includes small groups dedicated to Bible reading.
The most successful models will focus upon the priority of making new disciples – leading new people to Jesus. Make new disciples – and when there are new disciples in a number of small groups, bring them together into a new gathering (church).
Having been asked a series of questions about church planting, I thought the responses may generate other helpful comments. The questions are relevant to all, although this time raised by Adventist planters.
How successful have Adventist church plants been in Australia? If successful – Why? If not – why?
In most States church planting has not been a strategic focus for Adventists. New churches have started – when members moved from an existing church (perhaps because of tensions), or if a number of members found they had settled in a suburb or area far from an established church – and, most of these have developed into viable churches. In the early 1990s there was an initiative to plant churches in the State capitals with the specific goal of reaching unchurched secular people – but this was not fostered into the 2000s, as society became more post-Christian. Some were effective, a couple derailed.
Since 2006 WA has strategically focused upon church planting. It is not that planting was prioritised ahead of other ministries but it was put on the agenda – in the mainstream – along with education, youth ministry, aged care, personal ministries, etc. With other ministries, the State denominational office fostered church planting as a main arm of evangelism and mission! A planter was appointed to coordinate planting State wide. This strategic emphasis has resulted in new disciples – and viable new churches. During this period of time, the Samoan churches in Melbourne (VIC) have strategically multiplied churches. Hopefully other States implement planting strategies, and more local churches become multiplying planting hubs. Research demonstrates that only when churches are being planted that growth is seen in global north environments. I think we need to be planting the equivalent of 10% of the number of existing churches each years for effective growth. That will only happen when there is a strategic focus upon disciple making – and planting!
Easter Saturday the SOS plant at Southend went out onto the streets – singing, sharing; providing an 8-point health check, ‘citizen’s advice’, an ADRA water pump demonstration (popular with the children), hot drinks etc. One of the organizers, Dr Colin Gordon, says: ‘An estimated 3,000 people benefitted from the day’s program!’ See SOS
Great observation from Peter Hobbs (e/m), Salvation Army planter on the Bellarine Peninsula, (Vic, Australia): ‘After nearly 4½ years of sowing with unbelievers in the community we are starting to see these “unchurched” believers stepping up in leadership roles within our plant. Now with a majority from outside church culture our ‘church’ looks nothing like a church most would recognise, but like an extended family spread out around the Bellarine with older brothers and sisters looking after young ones. We want to praise God because we had no idea this is how God would build his church and what this indigenous church would look like’. Check out Bellarine Salvos.
FIJI Pacific Reach Church Planting Movement – 13-19 July 2014 at Fulton College, Sabeto, Fiji: I will join other facilitators, equipping young adults to plant churches in villages across the Pacific. The vision of the Adventists in the Pacific is for each local church to have a planting project. There are only limited spaces available at the conference – so hurry and apply now: Maveni Kaufononga MaveniKaufononga@adventist.org.fj
Your opportunity to visit Jordan and Israel – and walk where Jesus walked. For more information!
Some thought missional might be another fad – but, it is not proving to be!
Yes, some terms pass their use-by-date. Emerging church was a great term – church from below, connected with the past and also the future! However, it was damaged from within and without – even negatively impacting the term emerging missional church. So we might be back to missional – and this could be a good thing!
Missional does not prescribe forms and practices – nor is it enamoured with postmodernism (or post-postmodernism). Rather, it is a movement shaped by
• God’s mission heart
• Christians being missionaries in western cultures
• Gospel proclamation – an imperative in any missionary environment
• Scripture reading – through the eyes of urban missionaries
• Faith communities (ecclesia or churches) engaging their cultures as contrast societies – called-out by God, witnessing to his values and reign
• Missionary faithfulness – from a marginal position in the culture, rather than the historic, dominant position at the centre of society. (Hill 2008:254)
It is shaped by three ‘overarching principles’ – Jesus shapes everything we are and do; we take church to people rather than expect them to come to us, and every believer is a minister! (Frost, Hirsch 2003:6-12)
These principles define our church planting today – equipping, resources and news! This mission flows from the heart of God – who so loved the world he died for us. (John 3:16)
On Saturday I spoke at the Adventist church in Benalla (VIC). A great little town, a neat country church – close to the town centre; and a warm welcome given to all who came near the place! A simple Bible study and worship experience – singing led by a little family, with the husband/father playing a guitar; enthusiastic and sensitive Bible reading (reading whole chapters about how Jesus related his goodnews to wealthy people like Levi Matthew, Zacchaeus, etc); a kids’ zone; a kids’ story – for 12-15 children under 6-8 (I would guess!); hymns sung to the music of an organ (yes, an organ! I know, it’s a while since I’ve done that, but it was upbeat and enjoyable!) – and I preached! But three features really attracted my attention -
1. The announcements. It was evident this gathering was connected – involvement in community events, a water ski day on the Murray River for friends, a Bible reading group in a home for neighbourhood women, a DVD afternoon, support for the elderly, prayer for a friend diagnosed with cancer, etc.
2. The friends. Some introduced friends they had brought to worship. ‘My friend is part of my ladies’ Bible reading group’, one elderly lady told me. ‘We’ve been getting together for years!’
3. The food. There was variety. Some families had ‘a kid’s birthday party to go to!’ Others were visiting friends in the community – but, 20-25 stayed for lunch. A great meal. Mostly elderly, some not well – some broken. This was family for them. A weekly meal shared – and they’ve been doing this for 6 years.
This little country church is missional. Yes, they meet in a church building – but they are not waiting for people to come to them, they are taking church into the community!