A good friend, Dave Lawton, is quietly cultivating a network of church plants in Melbourne. He writes:
You have to check out a great ministry that the workers call 'HR' (House of Restoration). Although they are a charity, it sure looks like Church planting to me! Tommy (the founder) told me 'we don't want to be called a Church … Most of the people we minster to have had some contact with some kind of Church before and they want nothing to do with that'."
Rose met me as I was trying to draw a group together to plant a Church in the West of Melbourne. She invited me to their Tuesday night family gathering. The door was open and the house was filled with people from different nations and backgrounds.The food was warm and plentiful, and the house was filled with lots of laughter and people who obviously loved one another. I was told numbers were down a bit as a team was out ministering in the NT. Usually the group meeting in Box Hill is between 40 to 60 people people.
At 7:30 the whole group moved to another one of their houses. There the meeting opened in prayer and anyone who wanted to wanted to shared testimonies. People who had 'found God' shared what God was doing with them that week. This was then followed by everyone having to bring a word of encouragement. Someone would start by saying 'I praise God for your life…' and then either bring a word of encouragement or prophesy to another person. People cried and laughed, and everyone participated. The evening finished with tea with scones and muffins (Made from scratch of course… no packet mixes allowed here!) It sure looked a lot like 'Eat talk Pray' to me. Lindsay, who had first come to do a placement with HR from Canada and now is living in Aus as a student and part of HR said 'I have really changed what I think Church is'.
What struck me was the amount of people from broken backgrounds who had encountered Jesus. Transvestites, Prostitutes, people on, and coming off drugs, and the list goes on. Tommy tells me that they have seen hundreds come to Christ. Their workers (leaders) were people who had been saved through the ministry of HR (great movement priciple here… your leaders come from the harvest). They were not a cosy Christian huddle, but a group that existed entirely for mission. It was what defined them. They run houses for the homeless, teaching cooking and computers for new immigrants, they are multiplying in Melbourne and beyond. The 'beyond' part includes minsitry in aboriginal settlements and in Mt Hagen PNG.