God may be opening new doors. It seems the stage is being set for opportunities –
Millions of people are moving across the globe – and ‘scattered people’ are in God’s heart (check out the book of Acts, where they are both receptive – and ready to share the gospel).
With the information deluge no one knows what to trust – except for those they are in relationship with (and this is the New Testament model for sharing faith – not packaged faith or programs).
Few trust manipulative, controlling hierarchies and institutions for truth – but rather their conversational networks (and this more closely represents Jesus’ status-reversal and the New Testament way of sharing ‘truth’).
Financial pressure and recession is challenging believers to take faith closer home (rather than driving great distances to performance/spectator ‘church buildings’) – and ‘household faith’ on the pathways of life is very New Testament.
Many believers are gaining the courage (and the compassion and mercy) to stand against injustice in society – and in the church (where it distorts the ‘body’/’image’ of our holy righteous God).
Fundamentalism (an extreme ego-centric ‘I am right & everyone else is wrong, in everything!’ attitude) is gaining ground as a reaction/force in society and the church – providing a milieu for the heart and grace of God, from whom true mission is birthed, to be seen in its beauty and contrast!
Our postmodern, post-Christendom world presents the greatest opportunities ever, for sharing the gospel – and for church plants to be ‘keys’ to open the kingdom of God to our communities (Matt 16:17-19).
Be courageous and daring for God’s kingdom.
CHURCH PLANTING NEWS – 4 May 09 (check out www.newchurchlife.com)
A number of these news items (not all) come from recently visiting church plants in Western Australia –
ACTS Church @ Curtin University: Each Wed members of the ACTS Club meet to pray and encourage each other. As well as being a regular ‘student club’ – they are planting a church on the campus of Curtin Uni (Perth, Western Australia). Relationships are built through small groups, offers of free Christian DVD’s, bread distribution for ‘economically strapped’ students, invites to nearby homes for meals and participation in student life. A monthly ACTS afternoon worship attracts about 40. A weekly Sat morning worship is also inviting students into a relationship with Jesus.
An Example of Conversational Prayer: Sven Ostring – leader of the ACTS Church plant on Curtin Uni campus – identifies the story of Matthew 11:25-30 (also Luke 10:21-24) as an example of ‘conversational prayer.’ Jesus naturally shifted from speaking to the crowds, to ‘praying’ to his Father, back to speaking to the people and with his disciples.
Book-clubs: Opportunities for Witness: When Phil Brown (church planting coordinator in Western Australia) and I visited the ACTS Club at Curtin University, one student told us how she has become a member of a ‘reading club’ on campus and this has opened the opportunity for her to suggest a book on spirituality that the group has decided to read. We also agreed that ‘The Shack’ – an allegorical story of Mac spending a weekend with God – could be another ‘good read’ that would engender significant spiritual dialogue with friends!
Munchy Morish Monday: Each Monday The XChange planting team in Kariong (NSW) provides morning tea for teachers and staff of the Kariong Public School. ‘They love the goodies we provide,’ says planter Laurel Ansell – and have labelled it ‘munchy morish Mondays’.
SRE Opportunities: Laurel Ansell (The XChange planting team coordinator) now teaches SRE (Special Religious Education) at the Kariong Public School. In the first week of school she asked her 20 kindergarten children how many of them knew who God was. Only two! Now, at the end of term all 20 children eagerly listen and participate in the Bible stories – and sing the songs.
The Watering Hole – Baptism! The Watering Hole plant is very active – Creative Arts for Everyone (C.A.F.E), involvement with Street Pastors, Life Groups, Easter Egg Hunts, puppet workshops, etc. But a highpoint over Easter was ‘the first baptism that we have celebrated since we became a church plant two years ago,’ reports planter Rosemary Lethbridge. ‘Every person in our church plant team contributed in some way or another to ensuring that this event was a memorable one for Stormee.’
Simple Church Praise Report: On Saturday I received a brief newsletter from Milton Adams – who is cultivating a growing Adventist network of simple church. Among other items he mentions –
Teenager baptized last Sabbath – this is why simple church exists, to reach unchurch people.
Fourteen new people have started the simple church training, phase 1.
Three Adventist church pastors have asked simple church to train some of their members to become simple church planters.
Last week a new simple church was started up north in the cold country. (I live in Florida.)
SEEDS 09 @ Andrews University will host a house church summit. Simple Church will be shared. I hope you can be part of this. Take a look at: http://www.nadei.org/article.php?id=165 .
Are you ready to become a frontier missionary in your neighborhood? Simple Church can train and mentor you no matter where you live in the world. Check out www.SimpleChurchInfo.com .
Two plants in Landsdale: Some get concerned over the proximity of churches. In New Testament letters we read of multiple church plants within walking distance – and that was in an environment of very small household church. (See Col 4:13-15 as an example). In Landsdale – a suburb of Perth – there are two new plants. Café 7 is a business started by Sharyn & Lou. It is a great place to eat – postmodern décor, outstanding cuisine (I enjoyed a salmon & avocado pasta with semi-dried tomatoes, pine-nuts etc in a mild garlic sauce!), and ‘value added’ interest from staff to management. Sharyn and Lou seek every opportunity to share faith – and provide regular gatherings for dialogue and worship. Within a short distance is the meeting place of Linc – a church plant that started at the same time, in homes. They now meet (with gatherings of about 40 people) at the local Adventist school. Brad (a chaplain at the school) says there is a great relationship – between school, community and church.
XChange – Worship & Small Groups: For XChange at Kariong (NSW) weekly worship takes place in homes – called Barneys House Church. ‘Our homes are getting very full with an average of 18 people attending Barney’s weekly,’ says coordinator Laurel Ansell. Small groups provide opportunities for discipleship, leadership and multiplication.
KidzXChange: ‘We now serve the children breakfast for the first 20 mins of KidzXChange, which they love,’ says Laurel Ansell. ‘Our average attendance is 20 children a week – the majority being unchurched.’
Love Links Jamboree: Love Links is a plant by ‘aboriginal people for aboriginal people’. Last year when I visited gatherings were in homes and parks. Now they regularly meet in a multipurpose child-care facility for worship times (a gathering of 40+ people) – and regular interaction with their people happens through a –
· Monthly Jamboree – with plenty of music, including from Rodney Rivers.
· Social events and days – BBQs, boating etc
· Yearly Jamboree Camp at Busselton – on the beach!
In May, they will conduct an evangelistic outreach program in their Midland community. They are also finding that migrant families – especially from Africa – enjoy their fellowship.
Church Planting Summit – Western Australia: I first met Glenn Townend – now leader of the Adventist church in Western Australia – when he was a high-school student in Lae, Papua New Guinea (the son of missionaries). I was conducting gospel outreach meetings being attended by hundreds of student on the university campus – resulting in a church plant that became the parent of multiple plants throughout the city and across the country. Glenn has planted three churches in his ministry – and cultivates an environment of planting. In 2006 I had the privilege of being involved in the first annual ‘church planting summit’ in Western Australia – and have been to each since (including this last). Glenn knows the value of church planting – cultivating an environment for it, equipping and releasing pastors and members, ensuring support systems (with Phil Brown as the WA church planting coordinator) – and always attending and teaching at the state ‘church planting summit’ himself.
Resources, websites & equipping
www.FireYourPastor.org: Check out this website for a free download of Lonnie Wibberding’s new book, Fire Your Pastor. Lonnie and his wife Melanie are planting churches in Huntingdon, and the surrounding counties in Pennsylvania. Lonnie’s book is easy to read, dynamic and passionate – with good illustrations and research – and makes an excellent contribution to the growing practice of every believer a minister and what is now called simple church.
Call to Intentional Mission in Melbourne on U-Tube! Rob Isaachsen is passionate about mission to the millions of Melbourne. This is worth listening to – wherever you live: www.youtube.com/watch?v=elIN-oACWEk . What he shares in backed up by massive research – brought tother under Rob’s coordination. This research exposes serious issues – and reveals great opportunities for the church in Melbourne –
# About 300,000 out of a population that will pass 2 million this year attend church weekly
# Under 34 year olds make up 48% of the city’s population (1.2million) – but only 4% (48,000) ever relate to church
# Those over 75 years old make up 6% of the city’s population (221,000) – but 22% of all attendees in church each week (65,000) come from this age group
# About 5000 people come to faith each year – but about 9000 people leave the church each year (giving a net loss of 4,800 people per year, while city population continues to increase by 90,000 new people each year!)
# The 5,000 (maybe) people converted per year – means less than 3 people per church come to faith each year!
# More than 2.9 million people in Melbourne have little or no contact with a church!
A Discipleship Guide for New Generations: In the fertile soil of your church plant, GODencounters may serve as a relevant disicipleship resource, especially with young adults. Check out GODencounters: Pursuing a 24/7 Experience of Jesus. Chris Bullock, FUSIONchurch [a young adult church plant in Atlanta, Georgia, USA] planter says, “It opens up divine possibilities where religion and institution fall short, by getting real and becoming vulnerable to holy influence. As a result, young adults are being transformed by GODencounters, experiencing and pursuing GOD’s presence in their daily lives.” Contact http://www.adventistbookcenter.com/GODencounters to order.
CHURCH PLANTING NEWS