Church Together, Life Together Reflections of a Bi-Vocational Church Planter Living in the Village Congregational Transformation in Australian Baptist Church Life: New Wineskins Volume 1
ISSUE 70 WINTER 2015
Is it Clark Kent or Superman?
In this issue
From the Director At Crossover we talk about our three legged stool of ministry focus as we seek to help Australian Baptists share Jesus. One leg is encouraging emerging evangelists. The second leg is helping local churches refocus on outreach. The third leg is facilitating church planting.
This edition of PRAC highlights church planting. Each year, in conjunction with the State Baptist associations, church planters are invited to attend the Crossover national church planters’ conference. The articles that you will read in this edition have been written by a selection of practitioners who attended the conference earlier this year. It was John Wimber who said that he spelt faith “risk”. It is always a privilege to attend the church planters’ conference to meet with and hear the stories of some of the pioneering risk takers of our national Baptist movement. I find that they continue to challenge me to continue to take risks for Jesus. I trust that as you read these articles you will be encouraged to pray for the ministries of these church planters. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will use these narratives to inspire us in our risktaking to share the good news of Jesus within our sub-sets of our Aussie scene. Let me also take this opportunity to thank you for your generosity and partnership with Crossover as you supported the Easter Offering.
Keith Jobberns Director Crossover
By Ty Soupidis
In our weaker moments, all us church planters have had “St Paul-esque” delusions of grandeur. We all want to be Paul in some way or another. I’d like to think I look a little more like him than most Australian planters, being of part Cypriot origin. I have also always liked the bi-vocational nature of Paul’s work and sought to walk that same path when I can. Paul told the church in Thessalonica about this work. “Don’t you remember, dear brothers and sisters, how hard we worked among you? Night and day we toiled to earn a living so that we would not be a burden to any of you as we preached God’s Good News to you.” - (1 Thess 2:9). We know from Scripture that Paul was a tentmaker. My trade for the most part has been teaching and for the past 15 years I have worked in some combination of ministry and other work. Sometimes it has been unintentional bi-vocational ministry because I have only been paid a 3 day ministry wage. At other times it has been intentional bi-vocationalism. The mix of vocational ministry and tent making has changed as the years and contexts shifted, but it remains my hope and intention to be bivocational for the duration of my working life. It has required some creativity and adaptability. I have worked so many different jobs. I have learned to say yes to offers of work and then work out how to do the job later! Behind the fun and adventure of different jobs has been an understanding that God will provide and that provision will sometimes come as I do whatever work will sell the tents. But really these stories are the interesting backdrop to what I consider the main question: why be bi-vocational as a pastor?!
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Is it Clark Kent or Superman?
It is not hard to find theological and philosophical information on the net about this topic. If you are interested, I have included some links at the end. But I want to give you a mainly practical list of possible advantages to being bi-vocational:
• It is really good for pastors and ministers to be around “normal” people and their normal circumstance. Friendships and ministry opportunities arise from these connections. • This process of being with normal people normalises us as pastors. It is really good for people to know us as a person not just a ministry position. • Finances can be a heavy weight on us as pastors, and also our church community and supporters. Getting off the ground can be easier without this large financial weight - it definitely was in our case. • Having an outside source of finances can give you certain freedoms which fully funded pastors often do not have. Many pastors have made regrettable decisions navigating the difficult issue of being financed by those they serve. • Your choice to be “non-professional” as a pastor will send a great message to the rest of the church. • It is exciting to know that even though everyone thinks you’re Clark Kent in the workplace, you are really (a Holy Spirit wrought) Superman. Some of the challenges you may have to face if you pursue this line of ministry: • Time, time, time! In ministry there never does seem to be enough time and I have found as a bi-vocational minister it is even more likely to be true. • You will need to work hard on keeping the right balance, particularly that you would not neglect your family or your Sabbath. • Prioritising tasks which are not urgent but which are important. This will not come easily as you are usually doing those things which are urgent and important. • Knowing your primary calling is the gospel and that other work enables that to happen but your identity should not centre on your other work.
Would I recommend this path to everyone in vocational ministry? No, I wouldn’t actually. Some people are better suited by their context for full time vocational ministry. But I do think all of us should think about combining ministry work and other work. For me it has been so valuable to be at the coalface in a regular job, seeing people outside of a church setting and praying for God’s blessing there. It has also released our church and supporters from a large financial burden, especially early on. I have had to give up on the delusions of grandeur most days, however, I feel privileged to walk some of the same path as the saint to the Gentiles, working hard in lots of ways to see the light break in for spiritually homeless and lost people. Some helpful articles to look at: A great short read by Chuck Lawless, encouraging to both full time pastors and bi-vocational ones: http://thomrainer.com/2014/08/12/10-reasons-bivocationalministry-matters/ Ray Gilder - The Demands and Benefits of the Bi-vocational Minister: http://www.lifeway.com/Article/pastor-bivocational-ministerdemands-benefits A short podcast where a bi-vocational minister in the US is being interviewed: http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/bi-vocational-ministry! A slightly more sober and “negative” article about bi-vocational work, and making sure we don’t devalue ministry in the process: http://sojo.net/blogs/2014/07/30/dangers-bi-vocational-ministry Ty is “specialising in not specialising”. He and his wife Sarah moved to Gloucester in 2011. Church on the Hill was planted in 2013, a simple church space to connect with the “spiritually homeless”. Ty is a school and guitar teacher, a Pastor, a dad and the cultivator of the most rad dreadlocks in Gloucester. PRAC WINTER 2015 | 02
Church Together, Life Together By Julie Williams
The beautiful suburb of Balmoral is situated on the river about 5kms from the centre of Brisbane. The heart of the area is the café/ restaurant strip of Oxford Street, which is always teeming with both locals and visitors enjoying the village atmosphere, shops and the wide choice of eateries.
Their buildings and land were handed back to Queensland Baptists at the end of 2012, the former congregation asking that the church property be used for the sole purpose of ministering in the local area. The vision of New Heart is to be “A pioneering movement of reproducing disciples, life groups and churches” so when we heard about the opportunity to start a new work in the Balmoral area we approached Queensland Baptists and hence began our journey as New Heart Balmoral!
The surrounding suburbs have all undergone substantial urban renewal over the last 15 years leading to a radical change in the demographics of the area. Today this area has a high number of young families with children in the early or primary age group. These families are earning a combined income of between $120,000 and $170,000 per year (2011 National Census figures). New Heart Baptist Church (NHBC) Balmoral is positioned in the heart of this area and this is a snapshot of how a church that had a vision to plant churches has pioneered a new work in one of Brisbane’s inner suburbs.
Our first event at Balmoral was a churchwide prayer meeting on the site which we called “Light on a Hill”. At this Paul Butler, our Senior Pastor, met our first person of peace (Luke 10:5-7). She was a young mother who had a desire to find a church in the local area that she would feel comfortable bringing her friends along to discover more about the story of Jesus. So we invited her to join us so that we could help her do just that. We set to work on the old buildings. We cleaned, painted and decorated to create a homely coffee shop feel where groups could meet in an atmosphere that was welcoming to those who are not yet followers of Christ and/or “unchurched”.
Our current building at Balmoral is the old Carey Baptist Church where the congregation had been ministering in the local community for 150 years.
Our first “Coffee and Kids” was launched in August 2013, with about 12 mums and their children attending to share life together and, of course, drink coffee.
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This group still meets on a Thursday morning during school term and from this group we have seen 3 young women come to know Jesus. Last year we added “Heart to Heart”, a fun dance class for children aged 3-5 years. This has become another point of contact with young families in the area. New Heart is following a multi-site, one church strategy and so one of our early key strategies was to engage a foundation team from our Rochedale campus to commit to pioneering a new congregation for a period of at least 18 months. This group initially consisted of 10, including my husband Paul and myself. We began meeting weekly to pray and seek the Lord’s direction. This was an essential part of the early days of our congregation and established a solid foundation in both building a strong team and staying in step with the direction that God wanted to take us. Whilst the majority of the initial start-up team has returned to the Rochedale Campus, we now have a core leadership team made up of those that have joined us over the last year and are living in the local area. In October 2013 we began fortnightly life groups with the focus being to train and equip everyone to lead a life group with at least one other person and disciple new believers. Our church uses a simple pattern for our life groups that we refer to as “TripleS” - Share, Scripture and Send. This pattern is easy to reproduce and can be put
into practice in any setting with any amount of people. Our Sunday mornings were focused on equipping and training those who attended (both followers of Jesus and those seeking) in this simple discipleship model. We also explored the Scriptures together through a New Followers Bible Study that covered the basic commands of Jesus: knowing God, walking in freedom from sin, walking in new life and showing the fruit of love. Our Sunday gatherings are now held every week and since the beginning of this year we have seen 4 people become followers of Jesus and be water baptised. The group has grown to over 30, with over 50% of the congregation living in the local area. Our newest follower of Jesus was brought to our Sunday gathering by another very new Christian! So we now have new disciples discipling others; which means we are starting to see second-generation disciples of Jesus. Our Church Mission is: To make Disciples who make Disciples based on Matthew 28:19, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. Seeing new followers of Jesus sharing their faith and reproducing so quickly is very exciting and highly motivating for the entire congregation at NHBC Balmoral and Rochedale. We believe we are at the beginning of a pioneering movement and as such there are
many challenges that we face with starting a new work. One challenge I have faced is keeping the core leadership focused on what our call is and encouraging them to think “outside the box” for ways to share their story and God’s story with those that don’t yet know Him. It is easy to become comfortable with what is happening and how we do ‘church’, so putting our vision constantly before people and sharing stories that celebrate the goodness of God is essential. As we say at Balmoral, “We are not only doing church together we are doing life together”. This has become a reality in our people as we share life together and empower everyone to be a disciple of Jesus who disciples at least one other person. The other challenge we face is connecting with a community that is not in need of many material things. Most people in this area have everything they think they need but most have never had a relationship with the one person who can give them a secure hope for the future. Just doing life with people is such a wonderful way to share Jesus with them; this means being real, showing love and acceptance of where they are in life. This idea flows on to creating spaces where relationships can be built and developed in an authentic and relaxed way. Over the last few years we have seen this in action and it is a continual prayer of ours that we have our eyes, ears and spiritual senses open to divine opportunities to share the story of Jesus with as many people as we can.
Being involved in pioneering a new work at Balmoral over the last 3 years has been an amazing and faith building experience for me. I have learnt to seek God’s guidance on how we are to build His church in this area and to be always open to try different things. I love the way God has provided the best team of people I could have ever asked for to help with pioneering this church; with everyone coming to join us so willing to take up the challenge of running the race together and to see the vision come to pass. As this vision is centred on building a pioneering movement of churches, our hope is that New Heart Balmoral will reproduce and begin another work in a suburb close by in the next 3- 5 years (or God willing sooner). I look forward to seeing what God does next! I hope that our story has inspired you to seek God and ask Him to reveal innovative ways to pioneer new works that build the church and ultimately the Kingdom of God. “Enlarge your house; build an addition. Spread out your home, and spare no expense! For you will soon be bursting at the seams. Your descendants will occupy other nations and resettle the ruined cities.” - (Isaiah 54:2-3) Julie is an Associate Pastor of New Heart Baptist Church and with her husband Paul they oversee the New Heart Balmoral Congregation.
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Reflections of a Bi-Vocational Church Planter By John Bethell
Bi-vocational (literally “two callings”) is not the same as “tentmaker”. Tentmaker tends to refer to using a trade or job as means of income, or platform or even disguise for another ministry which is actually the main event. Bi-vocational is about pursuing two vocations, or two callings, at once. In my case, paediatrician and church planter. My story is one of walking away from medicine twice to train as a church pastor. Both times, I subsequently felt that God actively wanted me to work in medicine. Equally, the itch for theological and pastoral study, and an enthusiasm for the local church on mission with God in the world, wouldn’t go away! It became clear that God wants me in both medicine and church planting. He won’t let me drop one or the other. In 2012 we moved with our kids to Port Augusta, a town of approximately 13,000 people, 300km north of Adelaide, to work as doctors and plant what is now Travellers’ Well Church. Working in a trade beside “church pastor” has many advantages from a missional point of view. For example: • An income that is independent of the church gives flexibility. • Practicing a trade that makes a visible and valued contribution to the community meant that we felt welcomed into the town. 05 | PRAC WINTER 2015
• We get to meet and work with people who would never come near a church. • People see you as a normal person with a normal job, which can be quite reassuring to them! • Being skilful at your trade (any trade) earns respect from people who are otherwise antagonistic to Christianity. However, all that doesn’t mean that it is easy! The main challenges, for me, have included: Balancing Time I found that I got sucked into attending to the role with the loudest, most urgent and exhausting demands (in my case, medicine) and neglecting the church. With medicine getting the best of my time and energy, I tended to be overly casual and underprepared for church gatherings and neglected praying, dreaming and scheming about church. We need to defend time for prayer, play and listening to God. Drifting Travellers’ Well is a fairly “simple” house church style gathering. Mostly this is to reduce cultural obstacles for people with no church background to join us. It also enables others to easily lead parts of our gatherings, keeps us flexible and financially nimble, with no paid staff and no buildings to power and maintain. We enjoy the messy informality and seeing the Holy Spirit lead. However, this style can easily allow comfortable drifting on our part. Spiritual Warfare The opposition I (and others in our church) have experienced during church planting has been nothing like when working in medicine or studying alone. I underestimated the importance of other people praying for us
and the issues at stake. It’s been bruising and eye-opening. Reaching Beyond the Fringe Most of the new people joining our church have had some contact with some kind of church at some stage in their lives before. We long to see non-Christian never churched people of varied social backgrounds encountering Jesus. Is it worth it, is there any fruit so far? We are making disciples with a wide mixture of age, background and spiritual experience in the group, and we’ve had one baptism. We’re actively involved multi-culturally with a monthly meal gathering with the local Chinese community and others, and running English as a second language classes having established that as a need in Port Augusta. We pray that we are giving them a taste of the Kingdom of God. We have also had the opportunity to fund a primary school chaplain in a school from a less-resourced part of our town and helped run a kids’ club. Additionally, we were able to contribute to the ecumenical Easter morning service on the foreshore. As a group living locally with the attitude that we’re here to stay and to contribute, we are involved in various schools and organisations around the town. We’re praying that we will be incarnating God’s love and presence in our lives, and sharing the gospel with words. John Bethell, wife Amanda and their two young kids live, work and minister to Travellers’ Well Church in Port Augusta, SA.
Living in the Village By Tim Giovanelli
My wife Victoria and I moved to Manly Beach three years ago to plant a new Baptist Church. We had always loved this area on Sydney’s northern beaches. How could you not? As a surfer I had always spent my spare time down at Manly Beach, so when the doors seemed to be opening to start a new church we went for it.
Moving to Manly changed all of that for us. Before we launched the church two and a half years ago I joined the local swimming group called the Bold and Beautiful. This group swims 365 days a year at 7am from Manly to Shelly Beach and back, in pink swim caps. It is a local institution with over 8,000 people now having swum at least once. Slowly but surely this group of people became my best friends in Manly. We would swim, have coffee and do life together. Although I am bald and fat, swimming used to be my main sport, so coming in the first few swimmers each morning gave instant credibility! And then the God conversations began…
Although we only had a small group of people who were keen to go on the journey with us, we had the support of local churches, a place in the heart of Manly to live and a strong sense of call to the area. But how do you reach this area for Christ? Several churches in the area had closed or were in decline and it was known as a graveyard for church planters.
Two and half years on from launching the church, Manly Life faces all the normal challenges of a church plant – venue issues, the transient nature of the area and discerning what to do and what not to do. Of the 200 or so members, about 40 of them are from the Bold and Beautiful swim group, with another 30 or so swimmers having come to church once or engaged in something we have done. Someone once said disciples are handmade, not mass produced. Put simply, unless you just want to grow your church by people coming from other churches there is no short cut except through being involved in people’s lives.
Manly has a real village feel. If you come in on a ferry from the city, you are immediately greeted by hundreds of cafes, restaurants, pubs and shops. While it is a big tourist attraction, it also has a strong local atmosphere. People take great pride in being from Manly; belonging to the local surf clubs, sports teams and even being born in the local hospital. If you want to be a part of a community, Manly is a great place. In the previous churches I had worked at, I had always meant to get involved in the community but never quite got around to it. Church life got too consuming and talking about being missional was easier than actually getting involved in people’s lives.
most committed church members; they have been there for us through illness and we have seen lots of transformation in their lives. Manly Life Church is now made up of a number of groups from within the village. There are Christian Surfers leaders and kids, the local university students (where I work as a Chaplain one day a week), the Bold and Beautiful swimmers, the young professionals who catch the ferry to the city, the young Lululemon clad mums, the retirees… and we all come together on Sunday to worship together. Victoria and I never quite know what is going to happen next, but we are grateful to God for planting us into the Manly Beach community and the people we get to do life with. Tim, Victoria and their two kids live in Manly. Tim has lived in Kenya with African Enterprise and has gained experience both as a business consultant and within the church at St Paul’s Church Hammersmith, London and Northside Baptist Church, Sydney.
It means that Manly Life Church can be pretty messy. A lot of our members are new to faith and come with all the normal baggage of life. I remember after one night at the Alpha Course a bunch of the guests ended up kissing each other and hitting the bars until 2am in the morning. The next day at the swim they were all joking about it being the greatest church thing they had ever been to! Despite the challenges, the guys and girls from the Bold and Beautiful have become our PRAC WINTER 2015 | 06
Congregational Transformation in Australian Baptist Church Life: New Wineskins Volume 1 Review by Stan Fetting
Australian Baptist churches are traversing a period of significant change. This is seen in the context into which we minister and also the life cycle of many churches which have reached the crossroads of terminal decline and closure or regeneration and revitalisation. What does it take for congregations to remain spiritually vital, practically engaged, missionally relevant and theologically authentic? In this book a diverse range of authors share their perspective from a range of different ministry settings, all of which provide important perspectives for Baptist churches that engage with an increasingly secular context. The hope of the editors (Darrell Jackson and Darren Cronshaw) is that this series will catalyse a wider conversation and stimulate practical ministries among the many church and agency leaders. This book arose out of the New Wineskins Symposium co-sponsored by Crossover and the BUV Mission Catalyst team. The first half offers eight case studies of transformation, discipleship and missional innovation. The studies represent a wide array of vastly different contexts but there should be something for everyone. The examples are all vastly different from one another. We see the journey of an experimental inner city outreach to the marginalised from within a historic traditional church. The key message from this first chapter was how an inner city church woke up to the possibility that God could be found in people that everybody else walks hurriedly past. Brian Harris explores an intentional co-location of a school and church in Perth, initiated by a group of young adults. There is an evaluation of the missional strategy behind the venture. Baptists in WA in particular have seen significant church growth come through these types of ventures in new growth corridors. Covering ground where few pastors dare tread Peter Francis outlines his findings on research into what factors help or hinder city churches to engage their exponentially growing, neighbouring residential communities. Peter took on the enormous challenge of the missional regeneration of Brisbane’s City Tabernacle Church. Another challenging task is the joining together of two Baptist churches with distinct identities into one new singular church. Ian Hussey reflects on the successful merger and subsequent revitalisation of two Baptist churches into the North-East Baptist Church in Brisbane. He discusses theological background and processes for mergers, and helpfully identifies factors that led to 07 | PRAC WINTER 2015
its success and issues that almost hindered the effort. Baptists aren’t usually good at closing things they’ve started, especially churches. This case study is therefore a standout in how to manage important transitions that are being forced on Baptist congregations. In contrast to the notion of churches in traditional buildings Robert Morsillo unpacks the new possibilities emerging in the transformation of inner-urban Moreland Baptist Church as a network of communities practicing open hospitality. In a chapter dedicated to unpacking 3DM discipleship and mission system David Wanstall describes the journey of Stonnington Baptist that became Encounter Baptist Church. It is interesting to note his own journey of transformation as a pastor and the growth of his connection to his local community. Most readers would have noticed Simon Moyle, a name often in the news for anti-war activism. Simon’s chapter on prophetic activism provides a background to the headlines. Darren Cronshaw explores a congregational timeline and church history mapping exercise that have helped Auburn Life to understand its story and values. Many churches lack a coherent history which can be understood and cherished beyond the few gatekeepers of the stories. This chapter provides a helpful process to uncover the hidden gems (and sometimes painful realities). There is a change of tack in the second half of the book, which consists of seven chapters of theological frameworks and practical tools for congregational transformation and consultancy. These are quite detailed and don’t make for easy reading but provide some rigorous material for those interested in the topics on offer. These articles demonstrate the rich diversity of Baptist congregational ministry and the theological underpinnings that have motivated and guided the authors. New Wineskins Volume 2 is due out in October and it will have a broader mission and missiology focus. As each volume is added this series will provide a rich resource for our movement of churches as we navigate our way through the tectonic shifts in the contexts into which we minister. Stan is Crossover’s Operations Manager part-time, and a local gym and fitness club owner and trainer.
This edition of PRAC highlights church planting. Each year, in conjunction with the State Baptist associations, church planters are invited...
Published on Sep 1, 2015
This edition of PRAC highlights church planting. Each year, in conjunction with the State Baptist associations, church planters are invited...