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

Pentecost, Prayer and Planting

On Pentecost Sunday we remember that Christ sent his Spirit into the world to invigorate the mission and build His church. This Sunday we can be reminded that we serve a Lord who is busy redeeming the lost, conquering regions in the Kingdom that do not yet bow the knee and turning rebels into worshippers. This is therefore an appropriate Sunday to pause on the work of church planting. 

We celebrate the great work so many church planters and core teams are doing all over our country – building and expanding God’s Church by preaching the Gospel to the lost, perhaps in areas our current churches have not been able to reach.

We also celebrate church planters like Ben Murphy and his team at Wilson Christian Church who have become an officially instituted church earlier this year! Have a look at their video to hear their story.

This Sunday please pray for our church planters, their families and all the volunteers who gladly take up the mission into which the Holy Spirit is leading us.

KJ Tromp
CRCA Church Planting Taskforce

Looking at planting a church? We can help…

image001

Church Planting: God’s Faithfulness in Action

mcm-1024x6821

A reflection…

After volunteering to write this blog I got writer’s block and a bit of anxiety: “why did I offer to do this??”

Truth is: I don’t really have much expertise. I have never been part of a church plant, nor has our church been overly successful at planting churches. And yet I continue to find myself captured by the work of God as I see new churches planted, take root and grow.

As a member of the Christian Reformed Churches of Australia’s Church Planting Taskforce (CPT) for the last number of years I have had the pleasure of hearing the stories of God growing his bride and forming communities of Christ followers and gospel proclaimers all around the country. From the shores of WA, Tasmania, Victoria and Queensland come the testimonies of how God continues to grow the Church as new local churches are birthed.

Whenever a CPT meeting approaches, reports start to filter in from all around the country and there rises within me joy and praise at hearing of God’s work in and through His people. As Church planters share the highs and lows of beginning their new work in a new community God is truly glorified. I love reading the testimonies of God’s grace as he slowly forms teams – calls planters –empowers his people – saves the lost – grows his people spiritually and numerically.

In our church we have realised how hard it is to plant churches and keep it as a part of the ongoing planning and development of the community.  I have seen attempts fail and have been part of many discussions that in the end seemed to go nowhere.  In recent years our church at One Hope Community has been involved with seeing PC3 established in Pakenham. It was great to see God work through 3 mother churches to bring this about and then see them grow. I have seen from the sidelines the tough work, persistence and dedication it has taken for the church to continue and have been overwhelmed by God’s faithfulness and work in people’s lives.

the one thing that keeps echoing in my head is that, ‘God will grow his church and the gates of Hades won’t stand against it.’

Through all of these struggles, the ups and downs, the successes and failures, the meetings and long conversations the one thing that keeps echoing in my head is that, ‘God will grow his church and the gates of Hades won’t stand against it.’  In a culture that seems so hardened to the gospel and so antagonistic toward the church, God continues to grow his church – often slowly but surely, and always through the power of his Word and Spirit.

I will continue to urge the denomination to pursue church planting as a way of reaching the lost for Christ as we engage this Australian culture with the words and love of Christ. I will continue to spur on local churches and Classes to work together to see new CRCA churches multiply through the land. May our churches see a growing dependence on God in prayer, a renewed love for people, so that His bride may radiate His Glory.

Pastor Glenn Dekker
One Hope Community Church
Scoresby, Vic

 

 

Catalyst is Changing

You will have noticed it’s been almost a year since an issue of Catalyst has been released. The last year we have not had sufficient contributions to compile the newsletter. No doubt, it takes time to write, and we’re all busy. It could also be that the idea of a physical publication is not working for us. Maybe the 15 minute news cycle just does not work for a quarterly publication.

We have considered a few options. One was to make it more a curation site: where material gleaned from other sources is republished via Catalyst. But then we thought we all see so much stuff coming down the pipe, and who needs more of other people’s stuff? If you want that, you will already be receiving it, no doubt.

Another option was to move to a simpler blog format. This would mean the Catalyst material would not be compiled into a quarterly .pdf release, but each post would be published as soon as received. This would mean a more immediate circulation of single news items or articles. You would hear about thins more quickly and – contributors cooperating – more frequently. This is what we’ve decided to do.

The downside: it may be more difficult to print off articles for those who do not have computer access. It’s not impossible of course, but everyone’s system is different, and you will need to work out how, or whether, to do this locally.

The upside: You will receive posts more regularly and hopefully stay more informed. Also, you can simply copy the Catalyst link for helpful articles into your newsletter or enews locally.

For future contributors: keep an eye out for what’s happening in your local church. Are you trying a new resource for your home groups? Tried something new in evangelism? Are you doing the “Reading Your Bible Together”? How is that working? What can you share with others? Write it up. It doesn’t have to be long or involved, just let people know how it’s going. They will be encouraged by your words. Write it up, send it through, and we’ll get it out for everyone.

For Catalyst subscribers: you will get an email every time there’s something new published. We’ll also put an advice on Facebook, Twitter and email throughout the CRCA.

Remember, if you like what you read, or want to add some thoughts, the easiest way is simply to leave a comment under the relevant article.

Thanks for your time!

Dave Groenenboom

Catalyst June/July – Download now!

The latest edition of Catalyst is ready for download!

Click here to download the latest issue.

In this issue:

  • we hear the voices of three South African migrants sharing their stories and offering their advice on how to make the move to Australia
  • Zac Hicks, music pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church shares an excellent review of Hillsong’s latest album No Other Name. A must read!

This issue will be great reading for any church with South African attenders. It would also be good material to share in South African churches, and with anyone thinking of migrating. Share away, friends!

CRCA Catalyst June 2014 -p.1

 

Got feedback? Leave a comment on this post!

Grace and peace,

Dave Groenenboom
Editor
Pastor: Gateway Community Church

 

Catalyst March – Download Now

Catalyst March is ready for download!

Click here to get the latest issue.

This issue has some great input looking at aspects of pastoral care, church planting from the planting church’s point of view, with the other perspective coming from Pakenham Christian Community Church’s Sean de Kretser.

Crca catalyst march 2014 p1 lite

We also introduce the work on International Justice Mission, an inspirational evangelical mission doing a truly transformational work, soon launching their partner office in Australia.

My prayer is that the Lord will use this for your encouragement and to stimulate you to engage with his mission.

Finally, my apologies for the lateness of this issue. We encountered some technology woes at the end of last year when Apple radically changed their Pages software, dropping some 200 features, many of which were integral to Catalyst. Our work around involved accessing (with some difficulty) and installing the previous version of Pages. This put us so far behind at the end of the year we scrapped the November issue. Thankfully, we’re all back to together again. Once again, thanks for your patience.

Dave