International Intensive for Asia Pacific Planters

Last month, church planters, church-planting spouses, network leaders and returning alumni joined together for the fifth City to City Asia Pacific (CTCAP) International Intensive in Taipei, Taiwan.

City to City Australia sent planters Jeremy Tan (Redemption Hill, Sydney) and William and Lay Huan Tjoa (mosaiXchurch, Sydney) to take part in the training program held at Star City Church Bethlehem (known as Star Church). Over 100 people were in attendance representing countries including Japan, India, Australia, Dubai, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Previously held over four weeks, the program was modified to a two-week configuration to better suit those with jobs and families. This also forced CTC trainers to be more efficient, prioritise the material and contextualise for Asia Pacific.

Katie Ellis, Program Manager for Asia Pacific and Latin America, says, “We usually start with theology, then go into discipleship and then practical ministry concepts. This year we started off with four days of gospel renewal—being shaped by God, dealing with idols of the heart, being continually renewed. This is so important".

The CTC trainers model openness and vulnerability as they share their own struggles, their successes as well as their failures and their need for the gospel to daily transform their own lives. Jeremy shares:

"It was a deeply transformative time for me personally, as we spent lots of time learning how to bring the gospel to bear on our own hearts in a way that addresses the deep-rooted idols of our hearts, so that we never stop experiencing the power, reality and joy of the gospel. I loved this emphasis on the church planter first before we even started talking about the ‘how to’s of church planting. We were also able to work through some of the practical aspects of church planting such as discipleship, evangelism, leadership development, budget and finance, and preaching, which sharpened my own thinking on what to focus on next in our own context at Redemption Hill Green Square."
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In addition: two groups of church-planting spouses participated in Parakaleo, which William says, "was one of the best things that has happened for my wife and other forgotten and unrecognised ministry partners"; some CTCAP network leaders were there to shadow and learn, so they can provide this valuable training in the future; and alumni returned for a master class.

William continues, "the encouragement from seeing so many others committed to planting disciple-making churches that plant disciple-making churches has refuelled my passion to persevere despite the obstacles".

Please pray that God will multiply the fruit of this intensive and see more churches planted in the Asia Pacific region, and many, many more coming to faith in Christ.

Two ways to be precise in applying grace

Two ways to be precise in applying grace

What does it take to reach people’s hearts with the grace of the gospel — so that by the power of the Spirit we see genuine life change?

Last week (on June 1, 2017), 45 women and men from a range of ministry backgrounds converged at Melbourne’s Ridley College to workshop this question over the course of a morning together...

Chapel Hill celebrates its 2nd Birthday

 

Chapel Hill is a new church community that loves to be in Rozelle, Sydney’s Inner West. The church was started by Michael and Amy Nhieu as keen newlyweds with a dream for Chapel Hill to be an authentic and creative church where people from all walks of life could do life together as we worshipped God.

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Now in its second year since the church doors opened in 2015, God has continued to build the church with a very diverse group of people who call Chapel Hill home. This diverse community has made the life of the church interesting, lively, fun and challenges us all to get out of our comfort zones. Through the diversity in the church, people have felt comfortable to be themselves, vulnerable to share joys and burdens and open to explore the Christian faith whilst making genuine friendships. But of course this has all taken time, perseverance and prayer!

Through the diversity in the church, people have felt comfortable to be themselves, vulnerable to share joys and burdens and open to explore the Christian faith whilst making genuine friendships.

Launching with 13 people, Chapel Hill now has 40 regular attendees of a Sunday and three active Community Bible Study groups during the week. Discipleship amongst the church congregation is growing and the desire is that organically people will connect and care for each other on this Christian journey.

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At Chapel Hill’s recent second birthday close to 100 visitors attended and provided a wonderful support and encouragement for the regular members. The celebration was made to be even more special with the induction of Ben Yee and Nate Kemp as elders, marking a significant milestone of establishing Chapel Hill’s own leadership. Renovations have begun on the church building as well as in many of the hearts of those at church.

God is shaping Chapel Hill to be a place of continued diversity and a place that we long to be a real light and ‘city on a hill’ in the community of Rozelle and greater Inner West.

Chapel Hill meets on Sundays 10:30am at 665A Darling Street, Rozelle. You can find more details at www.chapelhill.org.au

Village Church launches in Burleigh

Ralph Mayhew (left), and Ori Zacher (right)

Ralph Mayhew (left), and Ori Zacher (right)

On May 7, Ralph Mayhew and co-planter Ori Zacher officially launched Village Church – a City to City Australia affiliated church located in Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast. In this interview, Ralph shares with us about how the plant came about, and their vision for Village Church to become so focused on Jesus, that people would join them to see more of him.


How did you become a church planter?

I’ve been in full time ministry for 14 years, first pastoring a beautiful group of churches in Victoria and then leading the youth and young adults of Newlife Uniting Church on the Gold Coast. As my role was increasing and changing I felt a strong call from God to dream about church planting.

As I did a vision of what could be began to grow in my spirit as I pondered how we, the church, might more effective to win people to Jesus. The question of discipleship is huge for me. How do we help those who have no idea who Jesus is, journey to a place where they are making disciples who are making disciples? This is the approach which has shaped a lot of our thinking about Village Church. Trying to create a church that is true to the Gospel and culturally relevant as it evaluates the benefit and detriment of all that has been church before us.

So, after working closely with the leadership at Newlife, and feeling an enormous amount of support, Ori and Bec came on board to co-pastor and it’s been amazing. A year ago, we had no idea we would be doing what we are, but we’re so thankful God has called us to this. So, we gathered a team together, developed a culture, prayed through our vision and on May 7 went public to the people of Burleigh.


How did the church plant come about?

At the start of 2016 I sat with the statistics, that by 2050 the population of the Gold Coast will double and most of that will be up (multi-story) not out (land footprint). When you think about it, that means that to just sustain the number of people currently going to church in the Australian population (7-8%), our city would need 250 churches of 200 people or more in the next 35 years. This is frightening. It also doesn’t take into account anyone new following Jesus.

At the time I was also wrestling with the tension that people feel part of an intimate movement until the numbers exceed 150. When that happens people begin to feel disconnected from each other and the vision. What if a church could grow to that number and then multiply, each time inhabiting a new postcode, including multiple expressions within the same postcode. Pretty soon we would see a movement of church plants, enabling people to meet Jesus, connect with each other and go out into the world.

With that dream bubbling away in my spirit I approached Newlife’s leadership, spoke with the elders, worked with our Presbytery, and now we are seeing the birth of what we hope will make more and more disciples of Jesus.

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?

Burleigh is an extremely diverse collection of people. It is a health centre on the Gold Coast, with a huge focus on good eating and fitness, it has a large community of people who engage in New Age Spirituality, there are a number of homeless people throughout the postcode, the housing prices are souring, leaving families struggling, 40% of the population is retired, there is a massive number of international students and visa holders who find their way to Burleigh. It really feels like a modern-day Athens that the apostle Paul preached to.

There are a number of challenges including how does the church offer something different (of the Gospel) than the multitude of community services already present in Burleigh. An obvious question we face is, how do we help the homeless and those with mental illness find life and hope, when we have very limited physical resources? A further challenge is not just connecting with people but discovering ways in which we might bless and love them deeply.

We believe that the only thing we have to offer people is Jesus and if that is first expressed in our love, then the Holy Spirit will be at work in the exchange.


Who's involved in the church plant?

To date it is led by Ori and I and we have a team of 33 adults and 15 children. That’s our team, which is different from our church. Our church would attract between 48 and 100 or so people who we are doing life with, loving, blessing and connecting with. We understand our church as people who we are journeying with in some form or another.

We have been well supported by Newlife Uniting, our sending church and also the Presbytery of South Moreton, who have been walking beside us.

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What are your hopes for the future?

One of our goals is to be the church who, when asked about by anyone in Burleigh, will be explained as the Church who love us. We believe that the only thing we have to offer people is Jesus and if that is first expressed in our love, then the Holy Spirit will be at work in the exchange.

We want to plant other churches and other gatherings in and around Burleigh, which we know requires God to bless us richly and us to be obedient to what God is asking of us.

One of the other cries of our heart is that we would become so focused on Jesus, that people would join us to see more of him. That Jesus would completely define who we are, that those who don’t know Jesus would be driven to him by intrigue alone.
 

How can we be praying for you?

Please pray:

  • That our passion for and devotion to Jesus would become all consuming. May we be so focused on Christ and the grace he gives us, that we might lose our lives to find his and in doing so give that life to others.
  • For financial blessing. We have made the decision to never ask someone who we are reaching out to give to us, so the mission of the church is entirely supported by the team and their giving.
  • That our team would be spiritually protected so that they may continue to make disciples and equip those they love for the kingdom.

To find out more, visit the Village Church website:
https://www.yourvillage.church/

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.