A Gospel centred, transcultural community for Monash

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Stephen Tan, together with his wife Kallie, will be leading a new plant within the City to City Australia network, Renegeration Church. Being sent out by Mentone Baptist Church, Stephen shares with us about how he became a planter, and their hopes for reaching the ethnically diverse suburb of Clayton and the City of Monash.


How did you become a church planter?

I grew up as a pastor’s kid in Malaysia. While I had seen a lot of my dad in action I didn’t grow up wanting to be a pastor. What I was keen on was evangelism. When I came to Melbourne to study at Monash University (Peninsula) I got involved in a church plant and in uni student ministry. Over time I became convinced that church planting is the best way to accomplish the great commission. I joined Mentone Baptist Church to be trained by Murray Campbell to be a church planter. I went to Ridley College to do my Master of Divinity and then I contacted City to City to do a church planter assessment and intensive.
 

How did the church plant come about?

I sought God for direction regarding what kind of church to plant and where. I was challenged at a conference to plant a church to reach the many migrants that were coming to Australia. My pastor and trainer Murray was passionate about reaching the students of Monash University (Clayton). So, we decided to combine both visions and plant Regeneration Church for the city of Monash. As a migrant and former international student at Monash myself I feel particularly equipped for this task.

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Give us a description of the character of the community you’re reaching out to. What are some of the challenges involved in reaching out to this community?

According to SBS, Clayton is the most diverse suburb in all of Australia with 112 nationalities represented. We want to be a transcultural community that welcomes migrants from every nation some of whom have never heard the gospel or met a Christian. We also want to welcome the students at Monash University. There is already a lot of good work being done there by parachurch organisations and we want to come alongside them to both evangelise students as well as integrate them into a healthy, gospel-preaching local church. The biggest challenges that we face are finding a suitable venue that is close enough to the university that students living on or near campus and who have no cars can walk to. Secondly, students and migrants are a very transient demographic. We will face challenges in establishing a core community that are in it for the long haul as well as a sufficient financial base to make Regeneration Church financially self-sufficient.
 

Who's involved in the church plant?

Our core team is made up primarily of people from our sending church, Mentone Baptist Church, some students from Monash University as well as some friends who I and my team members know through our personal networks.

Regeneration Church's Preview Service #1, 21 May 2017

Regeneration Church's Preview Service #1, 21 May 2017

What are your hopes for the future?

I like to say that I have a goal for everyone I meet. For every non-Christian, I want them to come to know Christ as Lord and Saviour. For every Christian that I meet I want them to grow in Christlikeness and to be a disciple who makes disciples. From a practical standpoint, we would like to be self-sustainable in five years’ time and in future be a church that plants churches too.


How can we be praying for you?

Please pray:

  • That God will provide us with a suitable venue that is walking distance from the university
  • That God will provide for our financial needs
  • For unity and wisdom for us as a core team
  • That God will work by his Spirit so that many will hear the gospel, repent, believe and be saved
     

Regeneration Church will be holding a second preview service on Sunday 25th June in the lead up to their official launch in July, and they'd love for you to join!

To find out more, visit the Regeneration Church website:
http://regeneration.org.au/

A New Church for Bondi Beach

Blake Hatton, one of our affiliated church planters, leads a team which is starting Bondi Beach Church Plant, a new church of Bondi Anglican. Together with his wife Sarah, they want the good news about Jesus made known at Bondi Beach. Blake recently shared with us about this new project, the community they're reaching out to, and their hopes for the future.


How did the church plant come about?

It really feels like the gospel is on low here at the beach. At least publicly, there isn't much here. With that in mind, I set out asking all my Christian friends and contacts to come help start something here. Everyone thought it was great but were tied up serving God elsewhere. We ended up with just a tiny team but then as soon as we began to meet, locals started coming out of the woodwork. One of my prayer partners commented, "you've bust your gut inviting people to move house to Bondi and got no one and now God is sorting you out with local Christians". So that was fun. Also, in the background, our senior minister is a champion. He has done a whole bunch of hard work and rallying to give us the opportunity to plant at the beach. Having planted fruitfully in the past, I think he knows the kind of challenges that a plant faces and so has gone and done his best to take out a bunch of these challenges from the get go.


Give us a description of the character of the community you’re reaching out to. What are some of the challenges involved in reaching out to this community?

Bondi Beach is super mixed, obviously backpackers but then locals who've been here since the 50s, Brits and Zealanders here to work for 3 or so years, then there are young creative professionals, housing commission, the rich and the famous and the just rich. We are trying to focus on locals who are planning to stay for more than 5 years so that we'll have a sustainable church in 5 years time, at which point, God willing, we can start reaching all the people who pass through Bondi as well.

Bondi Beach is super multi cultural but not like the other parts of Sydney. We have few Asian and Middle Eastern neighbours but a bunch of German, Dutch, American, Irish, English and Scandinavian people. So Caucasian but not from around here.

Related to this, I reckon Bondi Beach is several years ahead of the Sydney culture and so if Sydney is post-Christian, then Bondi Beach is leading the charge. This means people are spiritual but not religious. Most aren't going to check out church off their own bat. We need to find ways to engage that. We think it will involve being on the ground together in the community, actually asking everyone we get into contact with if they would like to hear the good news and having gospel gathering that really engage you and enliven you for your week.
 

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What are your hopes for the future?

Our hope for the future is to grow into a church full of people, engaging with Jesus and being changed for good. To do this, the team are meeting on Sundays to develop our site, our plan and our team.

In terms of the site: We've been set apart for this project by Bondi Anglican and part of that is having a great space down here near the beach. But it isn't in good condition and so we're slowly working away painting, growing flowers, patching holes in the walls, resurfacing stuff so that we'll have a good space where we can enjoy the gospel together.

In terms of a plan: We're thinking hard about how to engage the beach area with Jesus. We're in the process of 1) describing and naming the demographics, 2) building that into a worldview, 3) noticing how that worldview intersects with the gospel as well as goes against it, 4) translating those observations into culturally helpful forms of evangelism and discipleship.

In terms of people: We're not public yet, but we're inviting locals who church far away or locals who are Christians but haven't landed anywhere to join us. We need to get to a size where we could sustainably work together as a gospel community. That means a number of certain gifts and abilities but also spiritual maturity. And so as well as renovating our site and making plans, we have bible talks and gospel fellowship.

As soon as we have developed the site, the plan and the team (in numbers and spiritual maturity) we'll open publicly.

How can we be praying for you?

We want to move our contacts along a pathway toward Jesus: 1) interact with our church community, 2) hear and respond to the gospel, 3) partner with our gospel community, 4) get grown by the gospel. Interestingly, we have a fair bit of the first step. One of the benefits of being set aside by an existing parish is that you start with connections in the local community. SRE, kids club, toddlers groups etc. So we actually have some good connections in the area. We also have a great team who are Bondi Beach locals, God already has them connected in Bondi Beach. The change is to move our contacts along to hear the gospel and then, invite new Christians to partner with us in the ministry.

Therefore:

  • Thank God for the connection he has already given us
  • Ask God to grant people repentance and faith as we lay out the gospel
  • Ask God to grow the new Christians to partner with us in the plant

Find out more about Bondi Beach Church plant on their website:
https://www.bondichurch.org/bondi-beach-church-plant

Can a Christian run an offshore detention centre?

Greg Lake shares his experience as a manager of offshore detention centres and reveals how he had to decide whether he could honour God while continuing to fulfil his responsibilities.

Greg's story throws into sharp relief some thorny problems related to a Christian perspective on showing mercy to those in need, especially Refugees. This particular issue, together with homelessness is being tackled in a practical workshop hosted by ADM and Hope for Sydney. The details of the workshop are:

These are such important issues and hope that many attend this workshop.

Workship: How to use your Work to Worship God

Kara Martin is the author of a new book about Christian faith and work, “Workship: How to use your Work to Worship God”.

Kara explains that the Hebrew root word for "work" is also the root word for "service", particularly service to God in worship. "By combining the two words 'work' and 'worship' I hope to challenge people to integrate their faith and work. Work does not just refer to what is done in paid employment. I believe that God sees work as any purposeful activity requiring focus and effort."

A "Workship" forum and book launch will be held in Sydney on Saturday 29 April at Macquarie Chapel Presbyterian Church, Eastwood NSW, at 2:30 pm. Full details can be found here.

Australian author Kara Martin speaks with Life@Work director Andrew Laird about her new book "Workship: How to use your Work to Worship God".

Everyday discipleship

On Monday 3 April, City to City Australia had the privilege of hosting a workshop led by Todd Morr on Everyday Discipleship. Todd, who is one of the leaders of the Saturate program associated with the Soma Family of Churches, took us through the dynamics of missional communities in the local church and how mission, church and the fellowship of believers combine to offer a vibrant means of reaching out to those who are outside of Christ. The key message is that being called to Christ means my discipleship, including my outreach, is best expressed as part of a community and not as a lone believer.

Todd Morr shares his thoughts on missional communities with members of City to City Australia's network of churches.

Todd Morr shares his thoughts on missional communities with members of City to City Australia's network of churches.

City to City Australia hopes to work more closely with the Soma Family of Churches in the future. More details to come. 

(To learn more about how the Soma family see everyday discipleship, watch the video below from Jeff Vanderstelt, another one of Soma's leaders.)