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Copyright © Dagarte Ltd 2014 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, scanning or otherwise, without prior permission of the copyright owner. All correspondence to:Dave Gilpin Hope City Church The Megacentre Bernard Road Sheffield, S2 5BQ, UK Email Some names have been changed to protect the identity of those mentioned. If you do recognise events and people, please accept our deepest apology if our interpretation of events may be at variance with yours. We are the ones who are probably misguided. We also apologise for all we hurt along the way with any harsh words, absent words and brash actions. If we could do it all again, we would certainly be more gracious and kind. We recognise our shortcomings. Thank you for not killing us! Various short excerpts of Dave’s diary were included in Dave Gilpin’s book ‘Jesus Save Me From Your Followers’ published in 2006 by New Wine Press.

This is the diary of Dave and Jenny Gilpin. It’s an honest and intimate record of their journey from arriving on British soil to them establishing a church that would become a 21 century template for a new generation of churches across the British Isles. It records all they felt, all they experienced and all of their successes and failures. It will encourage you hugely in your own journey of faith. ‘Up the Creek Without a Paddle’ covers the first 22 years of Hope City Church and it records •

The stresses and strains of pioneering a church from scratch in a new country.

The tender beginnings of the new ‘multisite’ model of church life that’s now sweeping the nation.

The history of Glyn and Sophia Barrett and the beginnings of Audacious Conference and Audacious Church.

The heart and soul of Dave and Jenny Gilpin and the sacrifices they’ve made to see their dreams come to pass.

Dave and Jenny Gilpin are Senior Pastors of Hope City Church. They are based in Sheffield, England and have one son called Ryan who is married to Esther. They’ve written many books and travel extensively across the world.

This book is dedicated to Ryan Gilpin. We used to worry that the rough and tumble of pioneering in a new country would be detrimental to you – we now know it’s been the making of you. We are the proudest parents.


In the Beginning


Chapter 2

No Going Back


Chapter 3

A Hard Day’s Night


Chapter 4

Unto Us a Child is Born


Chapter 5

Our First Winter


Chapter 6

The Fast and the Furious


Chapter 7

Full Steam Ahead


Chapter 8

The Knife Edge


Chapter 9 Ground Zero p67 Chapter 10

Picking up the Pieces


Chapter 11

Downsize to Upsize


Chapter 12

Devils, Diamonds and Dust



In the Silence


Chapter 14

Gideon’s Army


Chapter 15

Grand Designs


Chapter 16

Between a Rock and a Hard Place


Chapter 17

Hell and High Water


Chapter 18

As Days Go By


Chapter 19

Up Close and Personal


Chapter 20

The Recovery Begins


Chapter 21

The Light at the End of the Tunnel



Speaking Words of Wisdom


Chapter 23

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly


Chapter 24

Between Crisis and Blessing


Chapter 25

Are We Nearly There Yet?


Chapter 26

Onward Christian Soldiers


Chapter 27

Taking Back the Reins


Chapter 28

On a Personal Note


Chapter 29 Under Pressure


Chapter 30


Keep on Moving



Chapter 32 Liverpool Leadings


Chapter 33

Night Moves - Night of Honour


Chapter 34

It’s Not So Grim Up North - Leeds Launch


Chapter 35

Arrested Development - Media Madness p203

Chapter 36

Accident and Emergency - City Hearts


Chapter 37 Audacious Aspirations


Chapter 38

Newcastle - The Real Story


Chapter 39

The Trilogy: Birmingham, Accra and Frankfurt3


Chapter 40

The End of the Beginning


Chapter 41

A Personal Note From Dave


Up the Creek Without a Paddle

FOREWORD There are moments in your life that go a long way in defining you. Meeting Dave and Jen in 1990 was certainly that. They were a key used by God that unlocked a whole new dimension of Christian living, not only to Sophia and I, but also to many tens of thousands of people since. Having visited Dave and Jen twice in their first year of planting Hope City Church, we were excited to join them after graduating from Bible College in Sydney some 4 years after they began. ‘Up The Creek Without A Paddle’ charts the warts and all journey of planting a church in a foreign culture with no friendship group, no financial resource, and no idea of how or why these people think the way they do. It’s the story of true and faithful obedience to the call of God. It’s about how something so wrong can turn so right. Don’t think, though, that it was all blood, sweat and tears – we laughed a lot in our many years together! Dave’s faux pas are the stuff of legend. Over the years Dave has grown trendier (those glasses back in the 90’s - sheesh), more comfortable in his skin (not just his tight jeans) and more flamboyant in his creativity (Dagarte), and Jen has grown lovelier and lovelier. Having known them (and baby Ryan) for over half my life, and having seen them walk through some incredibly difficult times, they have always carried themselves with utmost integrity and passionately believe in Jesus and His House. They are in every way the ‘real deal!’ 13

Up the Creek Without a Paddle

I am thankful that God gives Grace to walk through each season and even now, five years after being sent to Manchester to build Audacious Church, I still find myself thinking WWDD - What would Dave do? Dave, Jen & Rye we ALL salute you!

Glyn Barrett Senior Pastor, !Audacious Church


Up the Creek Without a Paddle

PREFACE Amongst the debris of our past and present lie all the seeds to our God given future. It’s the mystery that lies behind the great Australian bush and the fires that ravish them. The heat releases the seeds that create the beautiful new habitats of the future. Our story, and your story, is no exception. ‘Up the Creek Without a Paddle’ records some of our darkest days, and yet buried a few inches within the soil of our troubles were seeds that would grow to create our brightest future – leaders of movements, congregations and ministries. Even though they came in young and inexperienced, they have become huge bastions of strength for the kingdom of God. Our lives have been shaped, fashioned and marked by our past. We’ve become bigger people. Our enemies have provided the landscape to really know what love is and our mountains have provided the food to really learn how to trust. Our rebellion and pride have been eroded by trouble and trial! And I have a hunch that it was our own smallness and annoyingness that created our enemies in the first place! Sorry about that! This book is for you. Diamonds are created from coal. Pearls are created by irritation. If you keep the scripture, ‘all things work together for good’ tucked closely into your heart, your future will be as massive as your difficulties once were.

Dave and Jenny Gilpin (February 2014) 15

Up the Creek Without a Paddle

INTRODUCTION Dave was born in 1960 in Birkenhead, just across the Mersey from Liverpool. His family then moved to Ascot just outside London and in 1965 they moved to Australia. Jenny was born Kym Anne Salter in 1966 in Brisbane, but was immediately given up for adoption and after 10 days, found her new home with her new Christian parents Enid and John Stewart. At 16, Jen’s father John died and her world was shattered. Clinging to God and feeling a call to ministry, she applied to the one year Bible training college at her home church. She told God that she would not entertain a relationship until her Academy year was complete. On the night of her last day, she met Dave. At 18, Dave left his home in Canberra to attend Sydney University. Driven by a desperate need for affirmation, his association with a certain group of students led him to being expelled from his residential college. This led him to both think seriously about God and do some serious apologising to the college. He was allowed back in, and within six months had become a Christian. After completing his Engineering degree, Dave found himself working in Central Queensland in a town of 4000 people, attending a Pentecostal church with a fair share of farmers. With their passion and love for God, Dave’s heart was melting and upon being transferred to Brisbane, he applied to a one year Bible college similar to Jenny’s, at his new church. It was at this time that he met Jen. He was 24, she was 18. After 13 months, they married and became Youth Pastors at Dave’s church. In 1989 they saw the Hillsborough Stadium 17

Up the Creek Without a Paddle

disaster televised from England where almost 100 people died, and felt prompted to plant a church in England, specifically in the north. While on a ‘spying the land’ trip at the end of 1990, they felt a confidence in choosing Sheffield as their starting place, completely unaware that the Hillsborough disaster actually happened within a few miles of their history making decision. In March 1991 with Jenny four months pregnant, they left for England. This is a record of what happened next!



Up the Creek Without a Paddle

22 AUGUST 1990 (THE RECONNAISSANCE – SIX MONTHS BEFORE LEAVING AUSTRALIA.) I am writing from an unusually quiet place. Dave has just gone away to a Youth Leaders camp for 3 days. Boy, will I get a lot done. Someone rang us last night and said they would pay my airfare to England so I could go with Dave for 3 weeks at the end of the year to spy out the land! Unbelievable! I am going there in 3 months! I asked at work today and they said it was fine. Just before the person rang, I was reading the Word and I felt the Holy Spirit say to me that He was going to bless us financially! But I never in my wildest dreams guessed God would move so drastically. We wondered why God was sending me early but Dave seems to think it may decrease that real culture shock when we finally get to live in England. To add blessings to blessings, I was walking past Vinnie’s (charity shop) and thought I’d have a quick look. I got a hip length English coat made of wool with flannel lining and a hood (really nice) for $18 (£9). A lady walking through the shop said she had lived in England and the same jacket was worth £100 in London. Mate. God is so good! 21

Up the Creek Without a Paddle

4 MARCH 1991 (THREE MONTHS AFTER RETURNING TO OZ, WE PACKED OUR BAGS AND SAID ‘FAREWELL’ TO THE LAND DOWN UNDER! I HAD JUST TURNED 25 AND DAVE HAD JUST TURNED 31.) We got to Heathrow at around 4.30am and caught a train into London, a taxi to St Pancras Station and a two and a half hour train journey to Sheffield where Janis (who we’d met three months ago in a church near Barnsley) picked us up. It took us about 5 days to get back to normal sleep. We’ve been so tired. We went to church in Darton (near Barnsley) yesterday. I got an attack of the ‘lonlies’. You don’t feel at home without all your friends. Alongside our mixed emotions we have bought a car - A ROVER!! Posh eh! It’s a 1988 reg and only done 30,000 miles. It’s burgundy with pin stripes and all the extras - velour seats etc. We had a bit of a miracle with it. The car only came with a radio and Dave really wanted a cassette deck. Anyway, when I was praying the morning before we picked it up, I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be funny if they lost the radio while fixing it and had to put in a tape deck. That is just what happened; Dave got his tape deck. It has been really depressing looking around for rental houses. Rent is beyond us. We’ll have to buy something with the diminishing money we made on our small house in Australia to be able to afford to live. To get a loan Dave has to get a job. That is going to be really hard too. We need a miracle. The houses we could afford are mostly revolting, overlooking gas tanks and look onto sewerage works, I’ve exaggerated slightly, but you get my drift! God has to be in control somehow. It would have been much easier to take on a church somewhere in Australia than to step out cold turkey like this I can tell you. It wouldn’t be hard at all to return home but God must be with us in all our impossibilities. We found out that a house contract takes 3 months here before you own it, so if we buy a house with the deposit we got from 22

Up the Creek Without a Paddle

selling our Brisbane house, we won’t have a house till I’m 7 months into my pregnancy.

11 MARCH 1991 (AFTER BEING REFUSED A MORTGAGE BECAUSE DAVE HAD NO WORK, THE BARCLAY’S MANAGER FROM BARNSLEY CALLED US A FEW DAYS LATER SAYING SHE’D CHANGED HER MIND. A MIRACLE – ME THINKS!) This afternoon the lady from the Real Estate rang and said it looks like we will be able to buy this little house we have fallen in love with. Actually, after we had seen it we got a peace not to look any further. It has 3 bedrooms, a downstairs toilet as well as a bathroom upstairs, built in wardrobes, is centrally heated and has double glazed windows, double doors to the back yard, a sensational kitchen and lounge - and backs onto an open field. The bathroom needs doing, but that is all. It is only five minutes drive away from the youth hall Dave has found for church. He only found it this arvo so it is hot off the press. It will only cost £5 an hour! I have put on 2.5kgs but am rapidly developing a pregnant shape. My body is changing fast! You don’t worry about it as much here as you hardly ever show your legs. This week, I have walked for 2 hours and done 2 aerobics sessions at home. I swam a kilometre last week. It cost about £2.50 to get in - a bit expensive!

24 MARCH 1991 (TWO WEEKS BEFORE MOVING INTO OUR MIDDLE OF THREE HOUSE IN AN ESTATE ON THE EDGE OF SHEFFIELD AND JUST BEFORE LAUNCHING THE CHURCH!) I feel really alone. I even had to walk out of the church we’re temporarily attending. You know when you are open to God sometimes you just want to cry. It is easier to be hard than to soften yourself and be real about how you feel. I have resorted again to mild panic over a few things which I know I shouldn’t. Dave hasn’t got a job yet and we have to start paying the mortgage in 2 weeks. No doubt it will work out. 23

Up the Creek Without a Paddle

It always does doesn’t it. I hate being squeezed all the time but Antoine (the Pastor of a Brisbane church that graciously included us on their missions budget) rang this morning and is sending some support over for next month. It’s not huge but will certainly be appreciated. We are not buying an awful lot for the house yet as we are trying to be careful. We did buy a new bed in faith and bought a solid teak table and six chairs out of the paper. It’s really nice. You can take a leaf out of the table so it becomes round instead of oval. There’s a few dog eaten legs but overall it’s fabulous. We are having two rooms carpeted because there is no carpet. I said to Dave I would rather have carpet than furniture. It just feels more homey. Oh, by the way, I went to Sheffield Hospital yesterday and I have put on almost 5 kilos! I thought I was having twins. I don’t seem to be any fatter in myself so it all must be baby. They took a scan and the baby has grown a lot (and waved to us). All is perfectly normal. I used to be really scared of having an abnormal baby. God took away the fear but it is good to know all is A OK. I am walking every 2nd day for an hour or so as pools are hard to come by. We are starting the church this Sunday and I have to take communion, lead the worship, smile at the door, pour tea etc etc. More than a bit scary I can assure you.


“It wouldn’t be hard at all to return home but God must be with us in all this.” JENNY GILPIN

Also available from Dave and Jenny Gilpin @

Sacred Cows Make Great BBQs - Dave Gilpin

Jesus Save Me From Your Followers - Dave Gilpin

The MindMap Series - Dave Gilpin

Boost Your EQ (DVD) - Dave Gilpin

Think! (Two Books in One!) - Dave Gilpin

A.D.H.A (Audio Book) - Dave Gilpin

Manboobs - Dave Gilpin

Classic Lines - Jenny Gilpin

Heaven Sent - Dave and Jenny Gilpin

Up A Creek Without A Paddle  

The untold story from the diaries of Dave and Jenny Gilpin whilst pioneering Hope City Church.

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