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Transformation Through Partnership In Word and Deed Interview with Stephen Baxter Harnessing the Power of Viral Video





C a se S tu d y





In this edition there is an eclectic mix of articles about how effective mission is done in our twenty-first century. There’s a challenge about bringing together the presentation of the gospel in both “word” and “deed,” which somehow have tended to drift to polar opposites – when God intended them to work together. There’s an example of how one church in particular, partnering with others nearby, are expressing the love of God in caring for the poor and marginalised. And there is an interview that tells the story of Baptist Churches in Hobart working to achieve a great vision and new church planting goal by the year 2020.

and posters have recently been sent to every Aussie Baptist Church about the “Crossover Christmas YouTube Challenge.” We’re inviting the video techies and creative types in your church (youth ministry, children’s ministry, small groups, etc.) to pull together a video clip that tells the story of Christmas in less than three minutes. There are some great prizes (check out: www.crossoveronline.come.au for details), but we’re also hoping to launch a bunch of video stories that go “viral.” If you want to see an example of what one local church has done in the past, have a look at: www.youtube.com/ watch?v=JSGNJnAGCOc

Can I also draw your attention to the article by Stan Fetting that explains an exciting new project from Crossover Australia. Information

Also coming out later in September will be a suite of Christmas resources that Crossover is producing. Watch this space for further details . . .

Crossover’s newest resource release is a leaflet designed for use in situations of bereavement. Samples were sent to churches in August. Funerals and occasions of bereavement are special times of pastoral contact with people who otherwise might not darken the doorstep of the church. They are also times when people think about and evaluate their life values and eternal future. While they are not an occasion for exploiting people’s pain and loss, they are an opportunity for gently pointing people to the hope found in Jesus Christ. This resource, designed as a potential insert in a funeral order of service, aims at gently inviting further investigation of Christian faith. Check it out on www.crossoveronline.com.au. It has been authored by Rev Peter Francis (Brisbane) and is sold in packs of 100. Please also note that ordering and payment for this, and future Crossover resources, is shifting to “online” and ‘upfront.” More details on the Crossover website.


Community transformation through partnership Emma Wyndham Chalmers The varied and complex issues associated with poverty, both here in Australia and around the world, are often talked about in terms of the numbers: the number of homeless Australians on any given day (105,0001), the number of children dying before reaching their fifth birthday (8.8 million in 20082), or the number of people struggling to exist on less than $US1.25 per day (1.4 billion in 20053). They are numbers that can overwhelm us with their magnitude or simply numb us with their distance from our everyday experience of life. But for the congregation of Seaforth Baptist Church in NSW, together with other churches in the Manly area, poverty is no longer just about statistics. Poverty – in all its forms – has become intimately connected with the practice and witness of their faith through their involvement with the ManlyManado Partnership. The Manly-Manado Partnership, founded by Manly resident Jim Goddard, began in 2005 with a vision to facilitate the mutual transformation of two very different communities: Manly, an affluent suburb in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, and Manado, a town on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. The Partnership provided a platform for neighbouring churches to come together, witnessing to and working in partnership with the local community, to relieve the material poverty of a community overseas, while at the same time awakening an awareness of the social, emotional, spiritual and relational poverty that is prevalent in Australia. The idea for a Christian-led community partnership grew out of Jim’s experience meeting his Bolivian sponsor child, Luis. It was an experience that revealed much about the nature of poverty and broke down the somewhat artificial divide that is often created between Christian social justice and evangelism. As Jim so aptly puts it, “It is only through making oneself vulnerable and having direct relationship with the poor that we truly see God’s heart for his people.” And it was this heart for God’s people that captured the attention of the team at Seaforth Baptist. Vikki Howorth, who led the Partnership for the last two years and now heads up missions at Seaforth Baptist, says that the concept of integral mission is at the heart of all their mission and evangelism activity. Whether it is “over the seas or over the fence” evangelism is both proclamation and demonstration of the gospel.

“If we ignore the world we betray the Word of God, which sends us out to serve the world. But if we ignore the Word, we have nothing to bring to the world,” she says. And they have put their “talk” into “walk”…literally. The annual ManlyManado Fundraiser Walk, which Seaforth Baptist organises for the Manly community, will take place for the sixth time this year on 18 September 2010. To date the Walk has raised over $100,000 and more than 1,000 walkers have taken part. While the formal operations of the Manly-Manado Partnership concluded in May this year, their involvement has ignited a passion in the people of Seaforth Baptist that continues to burn. Vikki says, “People’s lives have been turned upside down. They are going on mission trips, getting involved with Micah Challenge, sponsoring children, and even changing their careers paths.” But the transformation hasn’t just happened within the walls of the church. In its five years, the Partnership has had a powerful impact both in Manado and amongst the Manly community. Together, the churches and the community have raised funds for 1,378 family business loans, 225 child sponsorships and major community development projects in Manado. It has united people from 8 schools, 9 churches and 185 businesses in Manly. Working together through the Partnership has paved the way for the churches to build positive relationships with people at all levels of the community – people in business, in the schools, in the local council – and opened the door for further street ministry opportunities. A community for whom extreme material poverty was such a distant issue has been stirred to action. A generation of young people has been awakened to the possibility that consumption and material wealth don’t hold the key to abundant life. Like poverty, like so many things, this sort of transformation can’t be measured with numbers.

crossoveronline.com.au facebook.com/crossoveroz


To read about the Manly-Manado Partnership in detail, go to www.manly-manado.org.au If you are interested learning more about the concept of Christian-led community partnerships go to www.gcpnetwork.org

twitter.com/crossoveroz youtube.com/crossoveraustralia


Reported in 2010 by Homelessness Australia www.homelessnessaustralia.org.au.

Annual global deaths of children under the age of five, reported in 2010 by the World Health Organization, www.who.org.



The Millennium Development Goals Report 2010, published by the United Nations, www.un.org.

Emma Wyndham Chalmers works with Crossover on the production of PRAC and other resources. She lives in Sydney with her husband James and Gilbert, their labradoodle.


Mal Sercombe

His last task at night, before the community’s generator was shut down, was to go to the camp and make up fires for the old people. Most slept on the ground next to their fire, so Dad would put an old shearer’s bed – a steel tube frame with a wire mesh base – on its side, between them and the fire, to keep them from accidently rolling into it during the night. On one such night, an old man known as Paddy pulled Dad down close to speak to him. He didn’t have much voice and spoke little English but he managed to whisper the words, “I love Jesus.” I’ve often wondered what Paddy understood of Jesus. He wasn’t literate. His worldview was that of a tribal Aboriginal man. He had probably heard stories but I wonder whether, in some way, his understanding of Jesus took the shape of my Dad.

There was no food bank in the NT and good, usable food was going to landfill. Foodbank Northern Territory was formed and negotiations with retailers commenced. Just before Christmas 2009, Foodbank NT began “rescuing” food and distributing it to community service organisations. Since then, Foodbank NT has distributed more than 20 tonnes of food (equivalent to over 15,000 meals) to more than 20 agencies in the Darwin region. And this is just the beginning.

A few days later, Dad’s regular visit to the camp was delayed. When he arrived he found that Paddy had rolled into the fire. His burns were severe and sadly he died in hospital soon afterwards.

I was born in Devon, England, the fourth of eight children. Dad ran a successful business, small but growing, in sales and service of agricultural machinery, including a John Deere franchise. Our journey to Australia began when a visiting missionary showed a picture of an elderly Aboriginal man in the Western Australian desert and issued the challenge, “Who will go and help this man?” Dad, moved by what he saw and heard, whispered a prayer, “Lord, I’ll go.” In June 1966, Dad, Mum and six kids arrived at the port of Fremantle, Western Australia, ready to begin life at Kurrawang, an Aboriginal community near Kalgoorlie, about 600km east of Perth. It was no small journey from Devon to outback WA, from English businessman to faith missionary. One of Dad’s first jobs in the community was tending the veggie garden. Despite his farming background and a career in repairing, servicing and selling agricultural machinery, working the veggie patch wasn’t his favourite activity. While in the garden one day, thinking about his call and the huge changes that had taken place, he took off his hat and talked to Jesus, “Lord, I can’t really love these people unless you love them through me.”

Paddy had “heard” the gospel. I’m not absolutely sure, but perhaps he had heard it most clearly in the conduct of a man who asked the Saviour to love through him: a man who embraced the Apostle John’s injunction not to love with “words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” Later, in my youth, I was surprised to discover an uneasy theological tension between the gospel in “word” and the gospel in “deed.” By some kind of osmosis I grew up understanding that each lent eloquence to the other and that both were indispensable. In Darwin, a few decades later, as Pastor to one of the city’s Baptist churches, I felt, as did other Baptist church leaders in the NT, that we were proclaiming The Word but falling a bit short on practicing in deed, at least in any strategic or collaborative way. We needed to redress the imbalance, acting cooperatively rather than independently. With generous financial support from Baptist Care Australia, the visionary support of its Chair, June Heinrich, and the auspices of the Baptist Union of the NT, a needs analysis was undertaken to gauge community needs in

This project seems to capture people’s imagination without needing too much explanation. A hire firm now provides our food collection truck for the cost of fuel consumed. A Christian businessman supplies a warehouse at vastly reduced rental rates. Volunteers from our churches have locked on to the project and have responded with energy and passion. Feeding the hungry? That’s a no brainer! This has been, and continues to be, an exercise in applied faith. Cash flows keep us on our knees. The Territory’s needs are so great while the donor base is small. Nevertheless, we keep getting assurance that we’re on track. At one particular low point, a businessman donated over $70,000 worth of shelving and pallet racking for the warehouse and a state Baptist care organisation donated an additional $25,000. Individuals can donate on-line at www. givenow.com.au/baptistcarentfoodforlife. (Pardon the pitch!) Foodbank NT is now a ministry of the newly created company, Baptist Care NT. In its next phase, Baptist Care NT will open Food 4 Life outlets where people can receive encouragement, friendship, care, counsel and food: more opportunities for our churches to ‘do the gospel’. As I write, the words of Jesus keep resonating in my head: “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these … you did for me.” Mal Sercombe is Senior Pastor of Darwin Baptist Church and Chair of Baptist Care Northern Territory. He is married to Ellen and has 3 children and 3 grand-children.


word and deed

the greater Darwin area. The intent was not to duplicate what others were doing but to identify gaps. It was crucial that whatever emerged would be embedded into the life of the churches and not simply an adjunct. Research identified two major unaddressed or inadequately addressed needs: food and housing. The housing challenge loomed way too large for this embryonic entity with a zero capital base. The logical beginning was to explore how to respond strategically to the need for food.



Dad’s original call was to help elderly Aboriginal people and I have clear childhood memories of him bringing some of the old men from “the camp” about half a kilometre away to our house. He would run a bath for them, wash and cut their hair, trim their beards and give them a clean set of clothes. He’d take them back to their camps – quite basic shacks – and if they were frail he’d push them home in a wheel barrow. There was nothing as luxurious as a wheel chair.

P R A C I nterview with


Stephen Baxter Pra c rece nt l y c au g ht u p w i t h R ev. S tep h e n Bax te r. Ste p h e n is em pl oyed by t h e Bap t i st C h u rc hes in Ho ba r t, Tasm an i a to h e l p co o rdin ate an d f ac i l i t ate 2 0 2 0 Vis io n , th e i r st r ate g i c c h u rc h pl a nting an d m i ssi on p roj e c t. .

What are some of the strategies you are employing within the 2020 Vision?

I grew up going to Baptist churches and, after studying Graphic Design, started working for “On Being” magazine and attending Hawthorn West Baptist Church. Jenny, my wife, and I were at Hawthorn West for 23 years. During that time our five children were born and I had stints as pastor of the church and managing director of the company running the magazine. I was, for a time, Chair of the Melbourne Prayer Breakfast committee and also helped to set up Servants in Hawthorn Inc., an organisation that ran a local rooming house. We moved to Tasmania in 2004 and worked in youth and community work with Fusion for 5 years, heading up their Registered Training Organisation. I commenced my work with Baptist Churches in Hobart in late 2009.

Hobart is an interesting city, heavily influenced by its remoteness. As a capital city, it has its own parliament and a number of corporate headquarters, despite a population of only 200,000. It is also the second oldest city in Australia after Sydney and my guess is that the convict past is deeply etched into its DNA. This has never been fully explored or appreciated but I believe this past still influences community attitude to the church as well as the church itself.

I am working to a three-year strategic plan produced by a team working with Dr David Jones of Baptist Rural Support Services of which my engagement was one outcome. A key component of the plan is to develop a “Hobart Baptists” identity, both structurally and relationally. This involves the creation of a logo and web site and conducting events to promote the fact that we are working together, for example, corporate prayer times and seasonal gatherings. Later in the year we will have a tent at the Hobart Show and this will be undertaken as an initiative of Hobart Baptists rather than just one congregation. Another aspect of the plan is encouraging those who live in areas where there is little Christian activity or witness to work towards a missional activity in the area. We have a couple of teams who have taken up this challenge and are actively working at reaching out locally from their homes.

What exactly is 2020 Vision and what does it aim to achieve? 2020 Vision is a dream to see the Baptist Churches in Hobart collaborating and growing together such that by the end of the decade we have grown from 6 congregations to 20 worshipping communities and from about 400 people to 2000. How did the idea for this come about? It grew out of eighteen months of collaborative effort by representatives from Baptist Churches within the Greater Hobart Region. During this time they looked at the current missional health of Hobart’s Baptist Churches and the result was a real wakeup call. Their finding showed a lack of missional intent, a lack of evangelism training, a lack of creative engagement, and a failure to consistently provide missional opportunities across our churches. They concluded there was no reason to expect a reversal of the current decline in attendance and membership numbers unless something significant happened. It was in response to this that the 2020 Vision was born.

The church in Hobart started out as a state church (Church of England) and clergy were paid from England up until 1896. The remnants of this past can be seen in the profile of the Anglican Church and are felt by leaders of other denominations. Generally speaking, Baptist Churches appear never to have been all that strong in Hobart, although there have been some exceptions to this at times. Baptist Churches are normally a pretty independent lot. We stand on our autonomy and aren’t renowned for doing things together. How come the Baptists in Hobart are working together? One of the reasons we are beginning to collaborate is our dwindling numbers, which are creating a growing consensus that we need to do things differently and together. An added incentive was that money from the sale of a church building a few years ago was set aside for mission activities in the Hobart region. We needed to work together so that this important resource could be put to good use. Our young people have led the trail in this regard: they have been working together and across the churches for a number of years now.

Why is there a desire to plant more churches or congregations? Why not simply build up the existing ones? Building up our current congregations to a total of 2000 people would require each congregation to be around 400 people. There are very few churches able to sustain that number in Hobart. What is more, there are people who don’t want to belong to a larger church. In fact, the average church size in Australia is around 50 people. That is not to say larger congregations are not important, they are. However, I believe we need diversity and a smorgasbord of different sizes and forms of fellowships: from large multi-congregational buildings to small groups in homes. We need existing churches to grow, but we also need new fellowships. Do you reckon there are some principles that could be drawn from what the Hobart churches are doing and applied to other centres around Australia? It would be great to think so but we are still in the early stages and are still to

put runs on the board. If what has happened already is an encouragement, then that is great. What are some of the specific issues you face in proclaiming the gospel in a place like Hobart? Firstly, I think the church in general has been caught off guard by the changes in society over the past 50 years and, in many ways, we are still playing catch up. In Hobart, and this is a generalisation, our Baptist Churches have been in survival and maintenance mode rather than actively engaged in mission and evangelism. Then, as I said earlier, I believe we still have to come to grips with how the city’s convict past and the “state” church has shaped community attitude to the church. Hobart is a deeply secular city and, despite what the rest of Australia thinks, it has a very mild climate (compared to most European cities and even Canberra!). It is a very beautiful city and its slower pace and remoteness breed a feeling of confidence, contentment and comfort. So I believe that both a “comfortable community” and a “complacent church” are the biggest challenges we face in working out how to present the gospel to this city. What are the big issues or opportunities facing the Baptist movement in Tasmania in the coming years? I’m not sure about the rest of Tasmania, but I guess it will be the same. Across Hobart we have a dearth of potential leadership from which we can grow 20 faith communities. This is a great concern. Those in the 30 – 49 year old age bracket are almost completely missing, even if their parents are in our churches. They are either in more charismatic churches or totally dechurched. It is difficult to see how we are going to achieve our dream of 20 communities of worship by 2020 without recruiting leadership from the rest of Australia or other parts of the world. If anyone has a sense of call to Hobart, I’d love to talk to them! For more information on the 2020 Vision project go to www.tasbaptists.org.au or email Stephen Baxter at sbaxter@tasbaptists.org.au. Photos left by Adam Selwood, middle by Mugley and right by Aschaf. Photos made available through Flickr and are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0


What is the Christian scene like in Hobart, amongst both Baptist Churches and other Christian communities?


You’ve been involved in Christian ministry for a number of years. Tell us a bit about what you’ve been doing?




Viral Video S ta n F etting

Increasingly, advertisers are turning to the Internet to spread their message in a way that traditional advertising could never achieve or afford. Once digital content (usually a video) goes “viral,” Internet users become the marketing medium. 

For more information on prizes and entry details, as well as tips and ideas to get you started, visit Crossover’s website www.crossoveronline.com.au

Stan Fetting has been a Baptist Pastor for 15 years in both Darwin and Brisbane, is married to Julie, and currently works as Communications Manager for Crossover Australia.

will open on 1 October and end on 28 November. The top ten submissions will be decided by an Internet poll and a panel of judges will award the top three positions.  Judges will be looking for creativity, innovation and, most of all, clarity.

The Rules Are Simple: explain the Christmas Story to a non-Christian audience in less than 3 minutes. This is a missional challenge.  All submissions will be uploaded to Crossover’s YouTube channel.

First Prize: valued at $1,000, consists of a Green Screen portable studio kit including 10ft X 15ft Chromakey Green Screen, portable frame, plus three 750watt continuous lights on stands for the complete green screen package to enhance your video production, a set of video mics including boom, lapel and hand held plus a set of commercial green screen video backdrop images.


This Christmas, Crossover hopes to harness the power of viral digital content and unearth the latent creative talent in our churches through a competition to create an effective video explanation of the Christmas Story. By stirring up the creative genius in our churches we hope the end result will be some excellent digital content that can be shared via e-mail, social media, blogs and websites.   On a daily basis, Internet users are exposed to a range of viral and advertising messages as well as content shared by friends and peers.  By encouraging the creation of new digital media that is missional in nature, we seek to inject content with a difference that can spread far beyond the walls of church.  There is every chance that some of the videos will become viral, seen by hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people. 

Competition Submission:


Most of the world is familiar with Scottish spinster Susan Boyle, who shot to fame after an astonishing audition on Britain’s Got Talent in April 2009. Websites such as YouTube and Facebook were central to her rapid rise to fame. The most popular YouTube video submission of her audition garnered nearly 2.5 million views in the first 72 hours.  Within a week, the audition performance had been viewed more than 66 million times, setting an online record, and within nine days, it reached a total of 103 million video views on twenty different websites.  In December 2009, her audition was named the most watched YouTube video of the year. It reached over 120 million viewings, more than three times higher than the next most popular video.   Old Spice is currently breaking records with the amount of interest in its viral advertising campaign. The campaign uses humorous videos and incorporates viewer suggestions for each new rendition of its content. Political parties in the Federal election have found great traction through humorous videos designed to lampoon their political opponents.

Profile for Crossover

PRAC Magazine - Spring Issue #61  

In this edition there is an eclectic mix of articles about how effective mission is done in our twenty-first century. There’s a challenge ab...

PRAC Magazine - Spring Issue #61  

In this edition there is an eclectic mix of articles about how effective mission is done in our twenty-first century. There’s a challenge ab...