N A TIO N A L M A G A ZIN E O F THE L U THE RA N C HU RC H O F A U STRA LIA
VOL 54 N03
Print Post Approved PP100003514
CHURCHES We plant, but God makes things grow.
1 C O RI N T H I A N S 3 : 6 â€“ 7
CHURCH OF AUSTRALIA
Editor Lisa McIntosh
Before international travel was discouraged due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Lynette and Grant Pinder took Lynette’s mum Joyce Gower (pictured) to Las Vegas in the US, to celebrate their daughter Natalie Pinder's 21st birthday. Just a few weeks short of her 83rd birthday at the time, Joyce, a member at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church Nuriootpa in South Australia, also enjoyed a helicopter ride into the Grand Canyon. While in Las Vegas, the family attended Reformation Lutheran Church and gave Pastor Jason Adams a copy of The Lutheran in exchange for its American counterpart Living Lutheran,, which Lynette says ‘is also a great read’. Lutheran Lynette, who with Grant is a member at St Paul’s Lutheran Church Sydney, took the photo.
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When I heard that the LCA/NZ’s New and Renewing Churches department was committing to plant 23 churches per year for the next decade, I thought it was a crazy idea! Ridiculous. It would take a miracle! Then again, I also thought the goal set for Australian Lutheran World Service’s (ALWS) the GRACE Project in 2019 – supporting 40,000 refugee children to go to school by raising $1,040,000 in less than a year – was nuts. But not only did our Lutheran family achieve that target, you exceeded it! And, as the need is ongoing, we continue to support children’s education in refugee camps through various ALWS projects. That reminded me to look beyond my narrow, shuttered human view of what is possible. These outrageous achievements aren’t due to our efforts; they happen thanks to the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who calls, gathers, enlightens, sanctifies, keeps us in faith, and motivates and enables us to be God’s hands and feet on earth. As Jesus told his disciples in Matthew’s Gospel, ‘with God all things are possible’ (Matthew 19:26). This encouragement applies to church planting as much as to anything else he calls us to do. And it is certainly reassuring in times of uncertainty and distress like those we’ve been facing because of the COVID-19 crisis. We know God wants everyone to be saved and, yet, most mainstream western churches – including ours – are shrinking. Going to church is no longer ‘the done thing’. Whether we like it or not, we live in a post-Christian era. We can no longer just expect people to come to us. In response, we can sit safely in our sparsely populated churches and blame anything from seven-day trading and Sunday sport, to multiculturalism and child sex abuse scandals – or we can take the gospel to where people are, with God’s help. Just as the apostles did in the early church; just as missionaries have done for centuries; just as Jesus did in his earthly ministry. And that’s what church planting is all about – reaching out into our communities; building relationships with those God leads us to and sharing his all-inclusive, redemptive love.
What is church planting and why do it?
The Beyond Church journey
Reaching out for miracles
Sharing Jesus is Messy … in a good way
Dwelling in God’s word
Go and Grow
The inside story
Notices Prayer calendar
29 & 31 30
Through this edition, I pray that you’ll be blessed as I have been in learning more about life-changing miracles already happening in church plants and different worship settings in the LCA/NZ. Read, too, how we can all be involved. And there’s a bonus copy of Border Crossings, Crossings, from LCA International Mission, with yet more stories highlighting the power of the gospel to save and transform lives. I think you’ll agree it’s the type of good news and encouragement we can all use right now.
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JES U S I S G OD'S LOVE. HE G IVES U S NE W HE ARTS TO L AY AS IDE O UR OL D WAYS, TO B EL IE VE AND FOL LOW HIM, TO L IVE WI T H HIM E VERY DAY.
RE V JOHN HENDERSON
Bishop Lutheran Church of Australia
GOD’S LOVE OUR ONLY SECURIT Y ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever’ (Hebrews 13:8 NRSV). Have you ever tried to ‘fix’ something, only to end up having more problems than you started with? It can happen to anyone, whatever we are trying to ‘fix’ – machinery, computers, antiques, cars and even organisations and relationships. In Genesis 1:28 and 9:1, we read how God told the people he had just created to go out and fill the earth. They soon discovered, however, that doing what God wanted would mean being scattered all over the place. Since they would rather stay together, they settled down to build a city. It was the first time anyone had done such a thing and it was a remarkable technological achievement. They invented fired bricks and stuck them together with tar. This was a brilliant fix for their problem, but
TH E O N LY TH I N G I K N OW TH AT IS SECU R E AN D I M M OVAB LE, W H ICH CUTS TH ROUG H ALL TH IS U N CERTAI NT Y, IS TH E LOVE O F GO D I N J ESUS CH R IST.
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it didn’t get them what they wanted. Instead, God confused their language and scattered them anyway (see Genesis 11:1–9). What happened at Babel is synonymous with present-day human defiance of God and pride in our own solutions. When we devise fixes for our problems, we so often fail to consider the small things that bring us undone. It might be something that we take for granted or have not noticed before. The people who built Babel probably hadn’t realised that they could lose their common language, but that was all it took to bring them unstuck. Our modern society, with its economic, manufacturing, societal and legal systems, can be just as fragile. Who of us factored in an outbreak of coronavirus when we made our plans for 2020? So much is coming unstuck because of a microscopic germ. Businesses are cutting back, people are not being paid, supply chains are threatened, stock markets are falling, recession looms, and the income and security of so many people are at risk. And that doesn’t include the many people who get sick and those who could die of a disease against which we have no immunity and, so far, no vaccine. If we who live in developed countries are affected, what of those
who have far less protection than we have? We know this isn’t the first time such a thing has happened, and probably it's not the worst disaster ever. History has plenty of examples. If it’s not a disease, it could be an earthquake, a bushfire, a flood, an unexpected shift in the climate, a war, an act of terrorism, or something else people had not considered when making their plans. Over the centuries we have learned a great deal, and maybe we might think we know how things work and how to fix them. But there is still so much we do not know. Life, our planet, society and our own nature are complex and interdependent in ways we can barely begin to grasp. The only thing I know that is secure and immovable, which cuts through all this uncertainty, is the love of God in Jesus Christ. No matter where we might be scattered, in Jesus God our creator is in direct personal contact with us (see Isaiah 43:1). That brings us security, peace and certainty of life. We confess that Christ is our only firm foundation and that he comes to us in his word, his church, and his gifts of baptism and holy communion. Even when our fragile human fixes and plans come unstuck, this truth does not change. Praise God for that!
CH U RCH PL ANTI NG
and why do it?
The LCA/NZ’s New and Renewing Churches department exists to serve the kingdom of God by facilitating church planting and renewal. International research indicates that denominations need to plant new congregations at a rate of three per cent per year, just to remain constant. The LCA/NZ’s goal is to grow, not just to maintain its current size. New and Renewing Churches’ desire for a five per cent growth in congregations equates to 23 new churches per year. The LCA/ NZ’s Executive Officer – Local Mission Dr Tania Nelson puts that target in perspective. ‘Is that ambitious?’, she asks. ‘Absolutely. But let’s not underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit!’
W H AT D O ES N E W A N D R EN E W I N G CH U RCH ES D O? •
Assists churches to begin, evaluate or progress their journey in church planting.
Works with local church leaders and pastors to build church planting capacity.
Provides resources, training opportunities, conferences and a supportive network for church planters and missional communities. The aim is to mobilise the whole church in the work of seeing new believers come to Christ – and to see mature churches that plant churches as the norm.
Works with local congregations and agencies of the church to help them assess opportunities for church planting and provides mentorship for church leaders and pastors on this journey.
Walks with missional communities and church planters as they establish new groups of believers.
Aims to help local congregations and agencies discern what the Spirit is saying as they seek to follow him.
W H AT D O ES CH U RCH PL A NTI N G LO O K LI K E I N T H E LC A / NZ? •
Our approach incorporates three key elements: a sending church, a church planning team and mentoring in the field.
Experience and international research both show that these elements are essential.
W H AT I S A S EN D I N G CH U RCH ? •
A sending church is a ‘mother’ church.
It both nurtures the missional communities from which the church planting team is formed, and supports the ‘toddler’ church until it is formally launched as its own entity.
WHAT IS A SENDING CHURCH? (cont.)
FACTS A N D FI G U R ES 14 people are currently being coached in church planting in the LCA/NZ.
LCA/NZ congregations which have completed Sending Church training • The Ark Salisbury SA • Bethany/Tabor SA • Living Faith Murrumba Downs Qld • Our Saviour Rochedale Qld • Living Word Ashmore Qld • LifeWay Newcastle NSW • LifeWay Epping NSW • Immanuel Woden ACT • St Luke’s Albury NSW • St Phillip’s Werribee Vic • Mountainside Auckland NZ • Palmerston North NZ
And at that time, the ‘daughter’ church is already planning to plant again! (As, we hope, will be the ‘mother’ church!)
The first phase of sending church preparation is all about the missional leadership of the congregation; the second phase rolls that out to the wider congregation; and the third phase develops missional communities from which the church planting team(s) will be formed.
Research also shows that sending churches receive an enormous benefit from the church planting venture.
The sending church journey is described in the booklet Church Planting: Plant Water Grow, Grow, which you can access through the department webpages (www.lca.org.au/new-and-renewing-churches www.lca.org.au/new-and-renewing-churches)) on the New Churches page.
Congregations in the process of completing Sending Church training • Rockingham/Mandurah WA • St Petri Nuriootpa SA • Holy Cross/Christ Church/Unity College Murray Bridge cohort SA • St John’s/Our Redeemer/St Paul’s/Geelong Lutheran College Geelong cohort Vic • Bethlehem Bendigo Vic • St Paul’s Box Hill Vic • Central West Parish (St Paul’s Parkes & St Peter’s Orange) NSW • Bethlehem and chapel Jindera NSW • St John’s/Bethany/Grace Ipswich Parish cohort Qld Church plants • Beyond Griffin Qld • Arise Springfield Qld • LifeWay Newcastle NSW • Pakenham Lakeside Vic Congregations in the Church Planting team formation stage • The Ark Salisbury SA • Our Saviour Rochedale Qld • Immanuel Woden Valley ACT • St Luke’s Albury NSW Congregations in the Strategic Mission Planning stage, as part of the NSW District’s Sydney Future Directions project • LifeWay Newcastle NSW • LifeWay Epping NSW • St John’s Wollongong NSW • Concordia Yagoona NSW • St Matthew’s Woy Woy NSW • Good Shepherd Sutherland NSW • Living Waters Liverpool NSW • Good Shepherd Campbelltown NSW • St Paul’s Sydney NSW • Redeemer Narraweena NSW • Our Saviour Springwood NSW
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W H AT IS A PA RTN ER CH U RCH ? •
Not all congregations are able to be a sending church. So partner churches are just that, partners in the mission of church planting.
That partnership is expressed in prayer, practical support, personal relationships and participating in ministry support of the new churches.
Our goal is to see every congregation in the LCA/NZ understand itself as either a sending church or a partner church.
For more information about partner churches see ‘Partner Churches’ via this question on the New and Renewing Churches webpages.
W H ER E D O TH E PEO PLE W H O M A K E U P TH E N E W CH U RCH ES CO M E FRO M ? •
By the Lord calling people into faith through the gospel.
Currently, LCA/NZ churches have a low newcomer rate compared with other Australian denominations. We’re not generally used to seeing large numbers of new adult believers join our churches. We believe this will change.
We believe that a movement is underway to see that change; so we ask you to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers, because 'the harvest is plentiful; the workers are few'.
PL A NTI N G 230 CH U RCH ES I N 10 YE A RS . IS N ’ T T H AT A M B ITI O US? •
Actually, no. It’s impossible.
That’s why we need your prayers, participation and the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
The vision is as bold as it is because it needs to be. Let’s not underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit in this.
A missional culture change is underway and we are confident that the LCA/NZ will see a growth of sending churches and partner churches and a corresponding growth of church plants.
W HY IS EQ U I PPI N G T H E L A IT Y I M PO RTA NT? •
Many pastors may wish to spend their time evangelising; however, the nature of congregational ministry means that they spend much of their time in pastoral care.
Let’s allow pastors to do what they do best – to pastor and shepherd the congregation. It is the role of the lay people (of all people) to share the hope we have in Christ.
It clearly reflects the New Testament pattern: the spontaneous expansion of the church through the ministry of the ‘non-professionals’.
Clearly the pastors have a key role in this – not least in the sending congregations, where they become facilitators for equipping and training as well as key agents in the missional leadership of the congregation.
W H O IS GO I N G TO LE A D O U R CH U RCH PL A NTS? •
The leaders of the church plant will emerge as a result of the training and support provided to the sending church.
The LCA/NZ is actively developing pathways for new leaders, identified by gifting, to receive training. They also receive on-the-ground mentoring.
The sending church retains oversight of the church plant until such time as the church plant wishes to be a congregation in its own right.
We’ve already seen a significant number of young church planters identified within the LCA/NZ and we expect that to increase in the coming years.
H OW C A N M Y CO N G R EGATI O N G ET I N VO LV ED I N CH U RCH PL A NTI N G? •
In the first instance, speak to Pastor Noel Due (Pastor for New and Renewing Churches) via email@example.com
The B E Y O N D C H U R C H journey BY CHRIS PODLICH
What a wild ride it has been! Later this year Beyond Church will turn five years old. Over the past five years we've had the joy of watching the Holy Spirit grow Beyond from one service to two; one connect group to nine; one youth environment to now having kids, junior and two senior youth environments; a single team of eight leaders to multiple teams that have more than 50 leaders in them; and GO Beyond service projects that started with just 10 people serving having grown to involve more than 30 people serving in them. A little more than 18 months ago the leadership team of Beyond Church stepped out in faith to follow God's calling again and, with a group of leaders whose average age was 21, relocated from Murrumba Downs in northern Brisbane, into the heart of the community at Griffin State School at nearby Griffin. That story in and of itself had God's handwriting throughout, with financial backing being provided and the sheer fact of a state school community welcoming a church with open arms.
As Beyond begins to mature, our focus has never been more locked in on continuing to create a church that unchurched people love to attend. We consider it a privilege that God is using us in his service and, while things might look a little different to the very first day we began, our mission is still the same: to go beyond church and lead people to become fully devoted followers of Jesus. Chris Podlich, pictured above, is an LCA/NZ church planter and lay worker. Beyond Church was planted out of Living Faith Lutheran Church at Murrumba Downs in South-East Queensland in 2015. The Lutheran A P R I L 2 0 2 0
F O R M I R AC L ES BY LISA MCINTOSH
For Susie Taylor, the LCA/NZ church plant at Pakenham’s Lakeside College in Melbourne’s outer south-eastern suburbs is an answer to prayer – and a place where God is working miracles in people’s lives. Pakenham Lakeside Church is a fairly small church – with an average attendance of about 25 per Sunday – but it’s seen as very friendly. At Pakenham, Susie has found a community where she and her family thrive on belonging. Having grown up in the Orthodox tradition and having been formerly involved with both Baptist and Pentecostal churches, she had been looking for a way to reconnect with a church family in regular worship. When she met her partner Vince, whose background was in the Lutheran Church, he considered himself an agnostic and, Susie, says, wasn’t a ‘churchy person’. For years she prayed that they could be part of a church community and practise faith together. Vince had tried going along with Susie to a Pentecostal church but he didn’t feel comfortable or keen to continue attending.
Then, about three years ago, Vince’s daughter was invited by a friend to worship at Pakenham. Going through a divorce, she felt welcomed and cared for by members of the church, which was planted by the Victorian District of the LCA in 2015. She decided to have her young children baptised there and invited Vince and Susie to come along. Around that time, Vince had some health problems. Pakenham’s Pastor Nathan Hedt visited Vince in hospital, ministered to him and prayed for him, which Susie believes was critical in Vince coming back to the church. ‘I think that appealed to him that there was someone out there who really cared’, she says. ‘He started getting to know Pastor Nathan and became friends with him. I think the fact, too, that when Vince was younger, he went to a Lutheran church was important. I think he just wanted to get back to his roots.’ Gradually, Vince and Susie got to know Pastor Nathan, who is also College Pastor at the school, his wife Yvette and other members. Building relationships created connections for Susie and Vince, and church worship at Pakenham became a regular thing. ‘It’s been a real answer to prayer; a big, big answer to prayer’, Susie says. ‘I never, ever thought I’d see Vince in church, ever. So for me, it’s been a real answer to prayer. And when I see him at church, I have to pinch myself because I can’t believe it’s happening. When I first met him, he considered himself an agnostic, whereas now he’s a Christian. ‘We also wanted to go to church, too, to support his daughter and the children – to encourage them with what they were doing. It’s been wonderful that they were introduced to the church, too, because they didn’t have any previous involvement with the church at all. So it’s been a miracle, it’s amazing. God is at work, definitely.’ Now Susie and Vince volunteer at the church and are part of the service roster, helping to prepare the space for Sunday worship. They also hosted a Bible study group at Susie’s house last year and she is keen to increase her volunteer service with others from Lakeside, taking meals and friendship to members of the local community. ‘We’re trying to introduce more things into the community that help the community’, Susie says. ‘It is different
Opposite page: Susie Taylor and her partner, Vince, who was not ‘a churchy person’, have found a friendly and welcoming community they love being a part of at the LCA/NZ’s church plant at Pakenham in outer suburban Melbourne. Left: Pakenham Lakeside Church ‘endeavours to be “salt and light” in the world as we walk with the risen Jesus!’, says Pastor Nathan Hedt.
‘ F O R M E, TH IS N E W CH U RCH H AS B EEN A REAL
PR AYER . TH E FACT TH AT MY PA RTN ER A N D H IS from how many people have experienced church, because instead of just preaching to people, you’re showing your love through making meals, befriending people and visiting people who may be lonely. You are extending love by doing things for people, being there and ministering to them. I think there is a real need for that and I think it does change people’s perspective of a traditional church because it makes it more personal.’ For Susie, worship at Pakenham is generally more traditional and ‘structured’ than she had experienced before. But, for Vince, it’s less formal than he’d been used to, with interactive, family-friendly elements of worship, different types of music and an ungowned pastor! Still, Vince appreciates the liturgical nature of services there. The couple has also really enjoyed the welcoming nature of the people at Pakenham. ‘It’s a very friendly place’, Susie says. ‘It’s also a small group, so it’s not so daunting to introduce people to the church. It’s very welcoming. It definitely appeals to me to be part of a smaller church, because in a big church you are lost and it’s not personal. However, I still would like to see our numbers grow.’ Especially after her own experience with a church plant, Susie believes the LCA/NZ’s goal of planting 23 new churches per year for the next decade into largely unchurched communities, is exactly what the church should be doing. ‘I think it’s the right thing to do because you’ve got to move with the times and you have to do things that are going to appeal to people, otherwise you’re going to lose people’, Susie says. ‘If that means it’s got to be less structured, then I think you’ve got to go that way. ‘For me, this new church has been a real answer to prayer. The fact that my partner and his family are going to church is nothing short of a miracle, so God is at work in this church.’
FA M I LY A R E GO I N G TO CH U RCH IS N OTH I N G S H O RT O F A
SO GO D IS AT WO R K I N TH IS CH U RCH .’
A BO UT PA K EN H A M A N D L A K ESI D E CH U RCH • Pakenham is in one of the fastest-growing urban areas in Australia. It is located about 60km south-east of the Melbourne CBD. • On average, more than 6000 people have moved to the Casey Cardinia region, of which it is a part, each year since 2003, including many young families. • Pakenham Lakeside Church, which is based at the Lutheran P-12 school Lakeside College, was one of the pilot churches for the LCA’s church planting mission. It has been supported financially by a church planting grant from the LCA/NZ Local Mission department, the Victorian District and Lakeside College, as well as local congregations and individuals. • You can find out more about Pakenham Lakeside Church at its website at www.pakenhamlakesidechurch.org.au,, including www.pakenhamlakesidechurch.org.au information for congregations about becoming a partner church with Pakenham.
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