REVITALISATION Better Together Revitalise and Release Musical and Messy One church, two locations Ways to Refresh your church When the embers reignite
HELPING AUSTRALIAN BAPTISTS SHARE JESUS
SUMMER 2017 | ISSUE 76
From the Director From the Director From the Director
Officially, according to a 2015 report by the Bureau of Statistics, Australians Church Revitalisation is about keeping our churches healthy, hopeful in full-time jobs put in 38 hours per week. But the first detailed survey and living out God’s purposes for them. a oneoffitStatistics, process or Officially, to a 2015 report byIt’s thenot Bureau Australians shows thataccording most full-time workers surveyed put in more. The Bureau says methodology that works for every church, it can happen throughsurvey many in full-time jobs put in 38 hours per week. But the first detailed 5 million of Australia’s 7.7 million full-time workers put in more than 40 hours different avenues. The stories shared in this issue PRAC haven’t been shows that most full-time workers surveyed put50 inofmore. Bureau says per week. Of them, 1.4 million put in more than hours The per week. Around without challenges, but they are processes enacted to restore churches 5 million put of Australia’s 7.7 million full-time workers put in more than 40 hours 270,000 in more than 70 hours per week. to place where God is million seen clearly work, where people are growing pera week. Of them, 1.4 put inatmore than 50 hours per week. Around closer to him and impacting their communities for God’s kingdom. 270,000 put in more than 70 hours per week. For many of us, we spend more time at work than we do at church, except of Statistics that some Baptist course forshow those employed by theChurches church. in Australia are stagnating Fordeclining. many of As us, with we spend more shared time at on work we dopages, at church, or the stories thethan following someexcept of course for those employed by the church. have shrunk to the point of facing closure. Our hope is that through the So what? I hear you say. Just this, how many of us would say our ministry stories of local Baptist churches shared in this magazine, and the varying is connected with our local church rather than focused on our workplace. So Ifollowed, hear youto say. Just this, and how many of would saymissional our processes you learn be inspired by the our way Godministry could Thewhat? balance needs bewill corrected. We need tous refocus is connected with local church rather than focused our workplace. work in your That could bethe because you are a at difficult future activities in achurch. way our that embraces reality that Godfacing is on also work in our The balance needs be corrected. We need to refocus our missional with theofcurrent sizetoand climate of your church. Or, it could be that your places employment. activities in a waywith thatvitality embraces reality that God isand alsoGod at work in be our church is blessed andthe resources at present might places of employment. calling you to consider how you share that or where you send people. In this edition of PRAC you will find a collection of articles and a book review Ifthat thisfocus issueon of this PRAC stirsofsome inspiration or raises questions for your issue ministry in the workplace. In this edition of PRAC you find aout collection articles andAssociation, a book review church, we’d encourage you will to reach to your of State Baptist that focus on this issue of ministry in the workplace. through a regional orbut your Crossover Rep. Theyin the Of course this is notconsultant an either or rather a both,Taskforce and...involvement have resources and to well guideasyou through considering missional agenda ofsupport my localavailable church, as recognising my workplace course this is not an either or but rather a both, and...involvement in the aOf process, or becoming a sending church. asrevitalisation my mission field. missional agenda of my local church, as well as recognising my workplace My prayer is that these articles will be a helpful and encouraging as my mission field. tool as we partner in ‘Helping Australian Baptists Share Jesus’.
Keith Jobberns Director Keith Jobberns Keith Jobberns Crossover Australia Director Director Crossover Australia Crossover
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Better Together Last week a couple visiting our church engaged me in conversation about how their church was growing smaller, because people were leaving to go the larger churches. I’ve had similar conversations over many years – tales of woe as big churches grow even bigger at the expense of small churches. But is it true? For some demographics, Yes. Youth and Young Adults do seek peers. Churches that don’t have critical mass find it difficult to build momentum among Youth and Young Adults. Data also suggests that people who come to faith in large churches often find their way later into small churches. They bring vitality and hope into struggling contexts. More importantly, the 21st century focus upon Church Health rather than the late 20th century focus upon Church Growth shows us that vitality is about more than numbers. There are several dynamic factors that interplay in creating dynamic, life-giving churches. Growing healthy churches is complex, but not difficult. In this brief article, I want to focus upon one aspect: inter-dependence. I’m often nonplussed by the high levels of independence and autonomy that local churches display as a badge of pride. We don’t get that from the Scriptures. Perhaps we do get it from our Aussie culture, from the divisiveness of denominationalism, and from an over-realised emphasis upon a Baptist distinctive of autonomy. I have always loved team work and unity. I think it is a theological imperative with spiritual blessings. Here are three brief stories, from the past five years, illustrating why we are Better Together. A few years ago, in addition to my fulltime denominational role, I stepped into a short term, unpaid, Interim Pastor role (during a pastoral vacuum) in a small church of “Aussie battlers”. They were salt of the earth, good hearted folk with little leadership experience and very few financial resources. They served in a socially and economically disadvantaged suburb of Melbourne next to an immigration detention centre. A faithful ministry among refugees and asylum seekers saw many converted and baptised. When released into the community, many continued to attend the church and the church grew in numbers but not in finances. Soon
By David Chatelier
after I left, a building project was undertaken to remodel their dilapidated building. Finances ran out before Council approval to reoccupy could be granted. Like the proverbial tower in Luke 14:28 – 30, the building sat fenced off and unoccupied until a larger Baptist Church heard of their plight and took up a single, special offering of nearly $30,000. Not only was the building completed but a new relationship was cemented, with ongoing blessings for both churches. Better Together. A new church plant, again in a socially and disadvantaged suburb, was determined not to have a Sunday Service focus, but a more holistic, all-of-life focus. The Baptist Union of Victoria, with Urban Seed (a community development ministry that began out of Collins Street Baptist) and a local Baptist Church, strategically put together a team. The team included community development workers, interns, and church planters to live intentionally, discern where God is at work, and bless the community. Better Together. A declining church with an ageing congregation in a wealthy suburb asset rich and cash poor, engaged an experienced and wise Elder from a large church to walk beside their new, enthusiastic Pastor. Complementary giftings came together to create synergy. Better Together. Revitalisation can seem complex, and it is! Books have been written, strategies formed, denominational experts employed, all in an effort to revitalise a community and a church. But sometimes simple steps and strategic partnerships are enough. Or, at least, they are a good beginning. Particularly when large churches and smaller churches work together. There are so many mutually beneficial outcomes, such as people deployed to serving in settings where their gifts can be released and multiplied, and where spiritual blessings flow (Psalm 133). Let’s break dividing walls by praying together, planning together, working together. We are Better Together. David Chatelier reflects on his role as Mission Catalyst, Baptist Union of Victoria. He currently serves on the pastoral team of Bracken Ridge Baptist Church, Queensland.
PRAC SUMMER 2017 | 3
Revitalise & Release Rostrevor Baptist Church (RBC) is a worshipping community (including children) of around 850 people in the eastern suburbs of Adelaide. It is multicongregational and multicultural with Chinese, Tamil, Korean and African congregations as well as three English congregations. As we prayed, there was a strong sense that God was calling us to ministry in the inner north-east/city fringe of Adelaide. As a first step, RBC has recently adopted Broadview Baptist as a Campus of RBC. Broadview Baptist Church (BBC) was an ageing worshipping community of around 25 people. They had a long-established location in the heart of Broadview with a chapel capable of seating 150 people, a café, manse and halls. In 2014, Rev. Darryl Bishop was called to BBC with a vision of transitioning BBC towards a vibrant, fruitful church that welcomed and discipled people of all cultural backgrounds. In the meantime, RBC were praying into a call of God to extend ministry beyond the current walls of RBC and the City of Campbelltown. One Sunday morning in November 2016, I put a call out for people who were interested in stepping out on an adventure of faith into church planting. Around 30 people took up this call and we began meeting together to pray and seek God’s leading. This group became known as the ‘Adventurers’. Pastor Ian Elliss (former Senior Pastor of RBC) and Pastor Darryl are long-term 4 | PRAC SUMMER 2017
By Dan Beasy
friends. They began to meet to pray. In doing so, there was birthed within them a growing sense that God was inviting both Churches to work together to see a vibrant and life-giving Baptist Church released in the north-eastern city fringe of Adelaide. With the encouragement of Baptist Churches SA, the leadership of both Churches gathered together to talk about how this revitalisation might work. It became clear that the way forward was for BBC to extend an invitation to RBC to adopt them as a campus of RBC. On July 2, in a spirit-led meeting, the members of BBC voted unanimously to invite RBC to accept formal responsibility for all aspects of the leadership, life, ministry and mission of BBC.
“A great door for effective work has been opened to us.” 1 Cor 16:19 After a month of information and prayer, RBC members met on August 8 and also unanimously voted to accept the invitation from Broadview Baptist to adopt them as a Campus of RBC. A few weeks later we prayed for and commissioned the ‘Adventurers’. They formed the core team that joined our Broadview Campus and services officially began on September 10. From the beginning the heart of both churches was to see the Broadview Campus revitalised and then released as an inter-dependent, vibrant and healthy member church of the Baptist Churches of SA. In order to see this happen we adopted the following Four Phase Model which serves as our Roadmap of Revitalisation: • PHASE 1 – One Church, Two Locations. This phase is about birthing culture and missional DNA. RBC accepts
formal responsibility for revitalization, oversight and operations of Broadview and its ministries. • PHASE 2 – Local Ministry. This phase will see the fostering of local ministry teams & leadership. • PHASE 3 – Governance & Senior Leadership. This phase will see the birthing of effective Governance & Senior leadership capacity. • PHASE 4 – Release. The release phase will see the birthing of a revitalised, autonomous, life giving Church on mission, planting new churches while enjoying an ongoing, supporting relationship with RBC and Baptist Churches of SA. Key indicators are in place to guide us on this journey. Since launching on September 10 our Broadview Campus has been averaging around 65 people on Sundays. Most weeks there has been new people visit. Activities for kids have commenced and with nearly a dozen kids we are hoping to begin a Children’s program by the end of the year. Seven weeks in, we participated in a major community event with over 3000 people present. A range of other initiatives are also in the pipeline as BBC re-connects with its local neighbourhood. A Street Breakfast is planned for Sunday mornings. Pastor Darryl continues to provide pastoral care to the Broadview people whilst transitioning into a specialist role on the Pastoral Team of RBC. A new Campus pastor will begin at BBC in January 2018. Please keep this revitalisation in your prayers! Rev. Dan Beasy is the Lead Pastor at Rostrevor Baptist Church and mad Carlton supporter.
Musical and Messy Revitalisation Julie Hunt with Stan Fetting
Setting the scene... East Doncaster Baptist Church (EDBC) was established in 1964. Like many neighbourhood churches of the time it grew as the suburb expanded with young families. By the 1980’s the church Sunday school was over 100 children. During the 1990’s these children grew into young adults. Many left for university, work or housing affordability. The church decided at that stage to care and focus on the regular attendees, in their 50’s and older. By 2012 when Rev Grant Stewart was called as senior pastor the church still had no young families. It found itself in the position, like many of our Baptist churches, to revitalise or slowly die out. There were many conversations about revitalisation between the diaconate and Rev Stewart. It was decided to call an ‘associate pastor - community ministries’. This role was to engage with the local community, developing missional entries for local people to connect with EDBC. Understandably this decision wasn’t fully supported by some in the congregation. There were concerns about financing the role, and whether it was needed. It was hard for some to imagine what the church could look like in ten years’ time if nothing was done. At a church meeting in 2012 the final decision was made to call Julie Hunt to the community ministries role, commencing in 2013. The church has been assisted financially with Missions Grants from the BUV and Rev Stewart’s willingness to reduce his time by one day per week.
Julie joins EDBC During that first year we tried to connect with the local community through a weekly community meal. This didn’t work. Tunstall Square is a shopping precinct 5 minutes’ walk from the church. After conversations, with permission from the Retailers Association and funding through Baptcare, I became chaplain to the traders and customers. Strong relationships were built and it was a privilege to journey with folk in their lives. This included a trader whose son committed suicide, and involvement in a regular customer’s wedding ceremony. Young families were moving back into the Donvale area. Much prayer and discussion went into how we could connect with them. It was decided that we would commence a mainly music group. This required a team of at least six and I wasn’t sure how this could be done. As we spoke to the congregation, people came forward volunteering to be on the team. Others who felt they were too old to join offered to bake delicious home-made goodies for the weekly morning teas. We started mainly music in May 2014 with 5 local families. This group grew and it was wonderful to build deep relationships with those who attended. The group grew so much that we started a second group in 2017, with more volunteers from the congregation. We now have connections with 25 local families who see EDBC as their home church, not through Sunday activities, but through what we’ve built together at mainly music. The next challenge was to offer these families somewhere they could come and learn more about God. In 2015 we started our Messy Church congregation. This congregation meets on the last Sunday of each month. We are starting to get more and more mainly music families, and other
local community families coming along. Messy Church is seen by these families, who don’t go to church any other time, as their congregation. Revitalisation of EDBC was on its way, but we felt that we needed to have a weekly congregation for other families, something more ‘churchy’ and regular. In 2016 our 11am congregation was birthed. Our original congregation worships in a traditional way with hymns and liturgy. We wanted to offer something a little more contemporary. It’s an intergenerational style of worship, where children and adults worship together and are involved in the services. This new congregation is struggling with low numbers, but we believe that God will grow this young church into a place of fellowship, community, relationships and spiritual maturity. What does the future now look like for EDBC? We will continue to build relationships with local families through mainly music and Messy Church. It is hoped that in a few years’ time the two Sunday morning congregations will be able to merge, and continue to grow as a multi-generational community of believers. It is exciting to see hope for EDBC to continue to be God’s presence in our local community – connecting, building and reaching out. Julie Hunt is the Associate Pastor Community Ministries at East Doncaster Baptist Church, VIC
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One church in two locations In January 2015 I was asked, by Nick Scott of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, if I could be a part of God’s plan in leading a new campus. There was an opportunity for a thriving church to help a struggling church. The concept was “one church in two locations”. After prayer and discussion, we sensed God was at work in our hearts. Coolbellup is a suburb of Perth, named after the Aboriginal name for the nearby lake. There are two churches in the suburb, a Baptist and a Uniting. During the late 1990s a suburb revitalisation project began. It converted and upgraded buildings and improved roads, parks and sporting grounds. With this, came a growth in the church until approximately seven years ago. The Baptist church in Coolbellup declined to six members. It was realised that the church was no longer making an impact in the community. The decision made to hand the property back to BU WA. A period of prayer and seeking the Lord’s direction began six months before hand over. The result? New zeal, the support of Mt Pleasant Baptist Church and a new vision for “One Church in Two Locations” was birthed. After much anticipation, prayer, and planning, Mount Pleasant Baptist Church opened its doors at Coolbellup on Sunday, 23 August 2015. What a wonderful morning, a testament of the Lord’s faithfulness! It was an unbelievable meeting of people, giving praise and honour to God, with much anticipation of what lay ahead. Having recently celebrated our second anniversary, I am delighted to see how God has been with us. The congregation is a mixture of different people, but all come together and are united in their praise to the Lord. Some families have come to support and serve from MPBC Booragoon Campus. Others have joined from the old Coolbellup Church. Many have come from the surrounding area. There is a great buzz about the building. From the initial six people of the “old Coolbellup Church”, we have seen steady growth. We now meet with about 80-100 people. Two years in, we now feel “the right to speak” into the community. We have served and blessed people in the local school, the neighbouring suburb’s school, but mostly in the
6 | PRAC SUMMER 2017
By Dr Peter Christofides
community. We’ve helped people clean their properties, supplied meals, visited the skate park, visited people in the neighbourhood, and more. This has allowed us to make friends and foster trust amongst the local community. We’ve also made inroads into the community through a stall at the local markets. We served free tea and coffee and did face-painting. This created interest from parents wanting a play group, so we created one and added a playground to the church grounds. This has seen over 20 children with their carers on a weekly basis. We’re involved with the local primary school and have developed a strong relationship with the school chaplain. She lets us know when there are needs, so our church members can meet them. People in our church are excited to do something in the community. Although it only took about six months to bring about revitalisation of the church, we feel it has taken two years to gain the trust of people in the community. To realise we are there to serve and love. We believe this is our Kairos Moment. A time to launch with Alpha, Christian films, fun family events etc. We want our church to be a facility where the community will feel welcome, to make use of the church and be challenged to serve God. Under the unity of “one church in two locations”, we endeavour to promote meaningful relationships among believers, expressions of sharing, caring for and loving one another, warning, motivating and encouraging one another to, love and good deeds. We have had a few break-ins and graffiti but despite that resistance, we have seen God’s Hand at work. Our vision is Calling, Equipping and Sending Disciples for the Glory of God in the Coolbellup area. We endeavour to be the “presence” of a healthy church for the Coolbellup community. As we agreed two years ago, God has called us, a new congregation, to seek Him and “ignite” Coolbellup! Dr Peter Christofides is of Greek ancestory, grew up in South Africa, and moved with his family to Australia in 2009. He was previously the New Testament lecturer at Vose Seminary (WA). Peter is now Campus Pastor for Coolbellup Campus of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church.
Ways to refresh your church: quick case studies from NSW
By Ian Altman
the church chose to embrace a revitalisation process to assess its capacity to restructure and enter a new season of growth and mission. We examined their history, values and community options, and embarked on a learning process of what it means to be a missionshaped church. Some read books like “Surprise the World” by Mike Frost and “Fruitful Church” by Andrew Turner, others visited some of our new church plants and reported what they had learned. After almost 12 months the church had gained a new sense of vision and posture towards mission. The church began to grow. Earlier this year they were able to call a new pastor with a strong gift of evangelism to lead and equip them as they seek to engage missionally with their community.
As a movement of churches, the Baptist Association of NSW & ACT has embraced a vision to grow to 1000 healthy churches. We refer to this vision as Gen1K – 1000 healthy churches in a generation. This means a commitment to planting over 600 new churches in the next generation. It also means investing and engaging in the healthy development of our existing 340 churches, along with a commitment to multiplication. Our commitment to healthy churches has led to the intentional rebirthing of some churches. Some churches have been in decline for so long, or have become so depleted that they no longer have the people resources or energy to function effectively. Rebirthing, which is essentially closing the existing church and restarting or replanting a new church, becomes the healthy option for these churches. One of our churches in Sydney’s South West had declined to eight people and would soon be reduced to four after two couples made the decision to leave. While a difficult decision for the remaining members, the church closed and remained closed for nine months. A few suburbs away one of our church planters had planted a church and was using space in an existing church building. Through some negotiation and planning, our church planter relocated to Sydney’s South West and rebirthed the church that had closed. After three months we held a celebration service where 120 people gathered as part of the rebirthed church. South of Sydney another of our churches had declined to 15-20 people and the pastor moved on. Rather than close,
Another example of churches engaging in our Gen1k vision and the commitment to developing healthy churches is through larger churches sharing their resources, through partnership. One of our well-resourced larger churches has made the decision to come alongside one of our churches that needed revitalising. We have identified one of our inner west churches which is open to assistance and willing to enter into a partnership. The larger church will provide resources, leadership, release people to join the smaller church (some even moving from one side of the city to the other) and potentially employ a pastor to lead and grow the smaller church. There are now several of our larger and well-resourced churches considering ways to engage in our Gen1k vision including partnerships, multi-campus, and church planting. Not only are our churches engaging in the Gen1K vision, churches are coming together in our regions to develop a vision and strategy to grow and multiply their churches. In the far north of our state, a region which currently consists of nine churches has developed a vision to grow to 30 churches and raise up 30 leaders. The Hunter, Sydney South and Western Sydney have all embraced a vision to grow to 100 healthy churches in each of their regions. In addition to our existing regions, new regions are being established with a strong emphasis on church planting and multiplication. Some of our historic regions are restructuring and developing their own vision around Gen1K. Underlying all the regional strategies, as well as our Gen1K vision, is a strong commitment to prayer, discipleship and leadership development. We know that we will not reach 1000 healthy churches without raising up a strong commitment to leadership development across all levels of our movement. Ian Altman works for the Baptist Association of NSW & ACT as the Associate Director – Church Development. Ian consults and supports churches through church health, vitality revitalisation processes.
PRAC SUMMER 2017 | 7
When the embers reignite By Colin Christian
Imagine watching a little, almost black, ember slowly glow red again. Then, it fans into flame. This is the story of a small country Baptist Church in south-east Queensland. Boonah has an elderly demographic. Its churches, across all denominations, average a weekly attendance of 40. Boonah Baptist, one of the last German Heritage Baptist Churches, recently celebrated its 130th Anniversary. Our recent history Since 2003 Church attendance declined. The church became dysfunctional and disillusioned. For fifteen years it had no permanent pastor. Numbers dropped to approximately 8 people. There was no formal church leadership, but an executive committee in order to function. They felt discouraged and came to desperation. The church turner to prayer, and a tiny seed of faith was planted. They learnt that when everything is stripped away, all we have and need is Jesus. In 2014, with the help of their Regional Consultant, the idea was birthed to reach out to Beaudesert Baptist Church for help. A similar process had been undertaken 11 years prior. Beenleigh & District Baptist Church had helped revitalise the work at Beaudesert. A significant historical link was found between Boonah and Beaudesert! At the beginning of WWII, the Beaudesert Baptist Church had closed. Rev. EV Keith from Boonah Baptist Church felt burdened by God restart the work there. Now, 76 years later, discussions commenced about the possibilities of the daughter church reciprocating to the mother church.
We have focused on three major areas. They may seem basic, but they are key and core to help undergird the church. Foundation The Lordship of Christ and Loving Each Other. Both were in great need and this was a strong focus for the first 6 months. “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.” Luke 10:27 Structural We began to work through the book of Jeremiah. At the same time there was a stirring to look at membership, and re-establish church leadership by introducing deacons. “You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5 Authentic Testimony To be real and genuine in our relationship with God, which overflows into our relationships with each other and those around us in our family and community. This authentic testimony would be as shining Lights in a dark world. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” 1 Peter 2:9
Meanwhile, God was at work in Colin and Rebecca Christian, members of Beaudesert church residing in VIC. They sensed God’s call back to QLD and into Pastoral Ministry. Returning to Beaudesert, the opportunity arose to connect with Boonah church and serve through preaching. Partnership resulted and in January 2016, Colin and Rebecca were inducted into the pastorate at Boonah Baptist Church, part-time.
We thank God for all that has happened so far, and sense life in the church again. We’ve seen Baptisms, funerals, prayer breakfasts, mission nights, luncheons, Life Study groups, picnics, men’s and ladies fellowship, friendship club, Food pantry Ministry, Nursing Home Services, and we’ve joined a combined churches youth group. People are taking care of each other and becoming more outward focused.
It was realised through this process that the church doesn’t belong to anyone. It is God’s church and ultimately in His hands. This mindset became necessary for the growth and revitalisation that would slowly take place.
The agreement with Beaudesert was renewed for a further three-year term. There has been a ½ a day increase to the Pastorate. The church has had 52% growth in twelve months and membership increase to thirty. The greatest treasure has been seeing people grow in their relationship with the Lord, watching little sparks ignite.
Where we are today We didn’t set out with a pre-planned program on church revitalisation. There was a heart cry and desire to see the Lord work and each day inquire of Him. We very much feel that we are still in the early stages. Twenty months in, we’ve been amazed to find that the Lord was guiding and unfolding His plan along the way. 8 | PRAC SUMMER 2017
Colin Christian has been the Pastor at Boonah Baptist Church for almost two years. He is a husband and father who loves reading, cooking, travelling, gardening and breeding English Budgerigars.
Church Revitalisation is about keeping our churches healthy, hopeful and living out God’s purposes for them. It’s not a one fit process or m...
Published on Nov 29, 2017
Church Revitalisation is about keeping our churches healthy, hopeful and living out God’s purposes for them. It’s not a one fit process or m...