Starting from Scratch: Church Planting in the West of Ireland

mayo-ireland-ballina

 

Our God is passionate about growing His kingdom in this world. God is passionate about church planting. Glenn Dekker commented in a recent post that church planting is ‘a way of reaching the lost for Christ as we engage this Australian culture with the words and love of Christ’; but this is not only true in Australia but for the rest of the world.

We have been in the west of Ireland for five and a half years now trying to engage with a post-Christian Irish culture with the truth and love of Christ. Our sending mission agency, Pioneers; which has church planting as one of its core values; have helped us set up a team in Ireland that, in partnership with local churches and networks, started a new church plant, Calvary Church, in our small town Ballina in County Mayo, over four years ago. We have recently been on Home Assignment in Perth, raising support for our third term on the field in Ireland.

Ballina

Why Ireland? This is a question we always get asked when we talk about our ministry. Despite its strong religious history and that almost 90% of its population call themselves Catholic, Ireland is under 1% evangelical. Basically Ireland is an unreached people group, there are simply not enough evangelical Christians to reach its own nation with the gospel

How do you plant a church in a town where you know no one, have a tiny core group and very little resources or money? Firstly, in a nutshell, it hasn’t been easy but we have been thankful for strong partnerships with local churches and networks. We are partnered with a reformed indigenous church planting network called Calvary Mission that have supported and mentored us as we began our church in Ballina.. Since our time in Ireland, Calvary Mission has grown to plant 3 more churches & is in partnership with other churches too, enabling our support network to grow.

Secondly, we work in a team. Our core group is very small, two Australian families, but we support and encourage each other to share the load. Being small means we work very closely together but also makes us reach out into our community since we don’t have the busyness of a large church family. Our main focus is to ‘live out loud’ our Christianity in a community where religion is often very private. Building relationships is our main goal as we find that developing trust with our friends and neighbours gives us opportunities to share the love of Christ in meaningful and powerful ways.

Thirdly, we have needed to develop a deep relationship with God to guide us and lead us as we seek to do His work in Ireland. God is not just passionate about saving souls, He is also passionate about changing and growing us!  When life gets too hard in Ireland, when we are in tears when the time spent journeying with close friends bears no fruit, when members of our tiny little church decide to leave due to things outside our control….those are the times when we have had to rely heavily on our compassionate loving God to hold us in tightly in His hands and guide us through. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12: 9, ‘But (the Lord) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.’

 

Meyerinks

L-R: Arwen, Ryder, Brendan, Carinne, Rory & Kian

 

Lastly, prayer! We know people are praying for us here in Australia and all around the world. We are so thankful to our sending church, Gateway Community Church for supporting us these last 5 years and encouraging us in our ministry. We are also partnered with four other churches who are passionate about mission and church planting, here and overseas. We are so grateful that God has surrounded us with faithful, prayerful partners who continue to pray for us, our church, for Ireland and for the world.

There is always a tendency in mission and church planting discussions to talk about our successes, i.e. how many souls have been won for Christ and just how well we are doing. But the truth is, our church plant is tiny and fragile; our friends in Ireland still seem so hard to the Gospel; raising support for our ministry in Ireland has been really difficult; and we seem to have nothing to boast about. But another great truth is that God uses us in our weakness and the power of Christ is resting upon us! Even through jars of clay like us, God is fulfilling His kingdom work in Ireland. He is compassionate towards our struggles. And He knows what He is doing. God is passionate about growing His Kingdom in the world, we can definitely boast about that!

If you would like to know more about our church planting ministry in Ireland, would like to receive ministry updates, or would like to become a financial partner, please email us at brenandcarinne@gmail.com

Brendan & Carinne Meyerink

About davidgroenenboom
Follower of Jesus, husband of one, father of three, grandfather of one, Pastor at Gateway Community Church

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