NEWS 15 Mar 09

Hello planters,

This week a major study (‘All Melbourne Matters’) of churches in the city of Melbourne (Australia) was released to the heads of denominations. It contains major challenges –
• 1.1 million in the city describe themselves as having ‘no religion’.
• While the population of the city is increasing by 90,000 per year, the churches are losing 4,500 per year in attendance – equal to a congregation of 90 each week!
• Church members and church leaders are aging. 23% of current church attendees are over 75 years & 53% over 55 years – suggesting further major decline in the not distant future!
• Only 48% of Generation Y believe in God (while 79% of the population currently believes in God) – suggesting future trends in spirituality!

I have been part of the Mission Response Group – processing the information, identifying ways to move forward and speaking (at the launch) about some of the opportunities. As well as intentional mission and prayer, we featured –

1. Multicultural missional opportunities: Over 200 nations now live in the city. While these ‘scattered people’ have brought new life to many churches, many bring new opportunities to share faith with almost every nation of the world, and through them, to take faith back to their own people. Some Christians are intentionally working among these people groups – with plants to plant at least one new church in each national group!
2. Church planting and ‘organic multiplication’: The ratio of Christians and churches to population continues to decline, while established churches focus upon the ‘Bible belt’ of the city. At the same time there are growing signs of impatience – and fresh expressions of church are appearing on the pathways of household life (‘we’ll come to you’) – in homes, cafés, pubs, workplaces and schools. There is a growing ‘movement’ of multiplying church plants.
3. Releasing the next generations: While 40% of Melbourne children have a church/denominational/private school education – with associated church, school and campus ministries; most of these children and youth choose to disconnect from church. The mission Response Group urged denominational and church leaders to release the next generation to plant the next generation of churches in the city. It is like parenting. Try to keep the kids at home, doing everything for them and controlling them – and they rebel! Equip them to leave home as soon as possible to create their own homes, to have their own families – and they stay in the circle of family!

To illustrate this last point I was able to reflect briefly upon one of the plants I work with – Revive. Planted by young adults (most of whom had disconnected from church) they now support a ‘dining room’ for the homeless and operate a café for families in financial difficulties; cultivate a network of small groups; provide opportunities for mission in Asia and Africa; involve themselves in community ‘service projects’; are replanting a country church; have adopted the youth teams of another three country churches; support community houses for ‘at-risk’ youth; gather people for worship (about 100 weekly); foster ‘prayer-journaling’, etc. At the end of March they will host a church planting teams training weekend – to multiply!

As was stated at the release of the ‘All Melbourne Matters’ report this week: “it has come time for denominations and churches to equip the youth who are at church – to ‘leave’; that is to leave to plant new!” They will redefine the church. It won’t look the same. It may be more ‘biblical’! But, if the next generations are not released to be the church, there will be no church in the next generation!

Be courageous,
Peter Roennfeldt

CHURCH PLANTING NEWS – 15 Mar 09 (check out
News stories

LIFE Home Church: I caught up with Joe and Cynthia Stigora a few weeks ago in a downtown Philadelphia hotel. When I talked to them last they were leading a church plant one hour from their home – and the conference leaders encouraged them to look at planting closer to home, in an unreached population. Their home church plant is called the LIFE Home Church (Living In Faith Everyday). They organize an annual conference in a motel-conference centre – but other than this one day event, everything happens in their home. Follow-up discussions from their convention-event; ALPHA programs; community meals; social events – such as swim parties; attract friends and families. They now gather for worship on Saturday evenings (6.00-8.30 pm). Last Friday they wrote, ‘We are doing well and are grateful for you connecting us with Milton Adams. We have been taking the online training and certainly will implement some of the concepts into our group. We will be holding the Alpha Retreat this weekend.’

‘Street Pastors’ in Scunthorpe: About 120 community leaders – councillors, magistrates, head teachers, church leaders, etc – were present for the launch of ‘Street Pastors’ in Scunthorpe. Some police and council officials came from Lincoln where the initiative is working well – to encourage Scunthorpe to move ahead with it. The Anglican Bishop of Grimsby spoke on behalf of the churches, and eloquently encouraged all to work together across faith and organisational boundaries, to restore the dignity of individuals made in God’s image. Funding has started to come in – with the Bishop of Lincoln making a donation of £4000 from his diocese to help us it started! Bryan & Isobel Webster of Cottage Beck Café Church have been a catalyst but are amazed that church, council and police, working on this initiative, give Cottage Beck Café Church the credit for it happening. At the same time they are giving this initiative their fullest support for Street Pastors exists for the same basic purpose as Cottage Beck Café Church exists for: to be the church reaching into people’s lives where they are, without “strings attached”. Bryan and Isobel say, “It is an obvious extension of what we do daily in the Café.”

Simple Church: Adventist leaders in Florida are fostering Simple Church. The coordinator (a practitioner) is Milton Adams. Check out for ideas and on-line training opportunities. Milton recently wrote an article about Simple Church in Adventism for ‘Best Practices’ – a great resource:

Innovation in the open: Monte Sahlin writes: ‘Michael Temple is a pastor in South Dakota and he recently obtained the use of a 3,400-square-foot commercial space in the shopping mall in town and is experimenting with various kinds of outreach. He started a blog where he tells you precisely what he is experimenting with and then gives you the raw data on outcomes of his experiments each step of the way, even if the results are zero sometimes. Very honest; very useful information! Check out his blog: Also, the ministry in the mall has a web site of its own:’

REACH in City Square & Children’s Hospital Ward: The Watering Hole plant puppet team REACH spent three hours on a recent Saturday afternoon in Southampton’s third largest shopping square. Rosemary Lethbridge reports, “People adjusted their shopping schedules, security guards took a break from looking out for shoplifters and joined other members of the public to enjoy the performance!” REACH have also volunteered their time and skills to start REACH UP, a puppet team for junior school aged children. Both teams have been asked to visit the children’s wards at the local hospital.

Funkydz club (also from the Watering Hole) is now regularly attracting 20 children from a variety of backgrounds. Several children who have attended funkydz club are now starting to attend funkydz church.

Jyouth – putting together a team for Church Planting Teams Training: Jyouth is a teen initiative associated with Living Waters Community Church (western Melbourne). Chonty Amiss – one of the teen motivators – is putting together a team to attend Church Planting Teams Training at Revive on March 27-29.

Passover Brunch: On April 11 (Easter Saturday and Passover) Living Waters Community Church is hosting a Passover Brunch. Barry Buirski from Celebrate Messiah will guide attendees through the great themes of Passover – celebrating Jesus Christ as Messiah and Saviour. The leaders and members of the Anglican, Wesleyan Methodist and Melton Adventist church plants will join Living Waters for the day of celebration, reflection and fellowship.

Resources, websites & equipping

Church Planting Teams Training 2009: March 27-29 at Revive, 17-19 Surrey Road West, Croydon (Melbourne, Australia).

Grant McAllister visiting Melbourne – Mar 20: Grant has seen it in action in China, being a catalyst for thousands to come to Christ, and hundreds of churches planted. He will be sharing principles of Church planting movements on Friday, 20 March. This is not to be missed if you are a Church planter, or want to see an explosive disciple making movement.

Cultivating & equipping others to plant churches – Principles:

1. Encourage all potential planters to read the book of Acts. The Spirit of God will work through this to empower and equip people.
2. Constantly focus attention upon the Spirit’s fellowship and his work.
3. Practice and teach conversational prayer (and a variety of approaches to prayer) – providing the basis for God to work his miracles. In planning church planting training events we put aside at least 1 ½ hours each day for prayer.
4. In training events, only involve ‘teachers’ who have planted or are planting – and keep all instruction practical. (Some ‘specialists’ have not practiced what they ‘preach’.)
5. As soon as you see a planter or church planting team developing a skill, engage them in sharing their story. This sharpens the work of those planters and affirms their ministry.
6. Have participants contribute to their expenses for training. This affirms those committed and also affirms zero-dollar planting.
7. Encourage the next generation to be involved. God’s Spirit gives visions to young men and women.
8. Always work with and cultivate teams.
9. Encourage core teams to involve unchurched people with them to the training. The key leaders for God’s work are still in the harvest field.
10. Build spirituality – with agape meal, prayer and anointing times.
11. Encourage teams to meet regularly to eat, pray, plan and encourage.
12. Be a ‘Barnabas’ – release others (don’t control)!

Peter Roennfeldt

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