Starting from Scratch: Church Planting in the West of Ireland

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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.

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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.’

 

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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…

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Church Planting: God’s Faithfulness in Action

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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

 

 

Another Church Planted: Hope Community Church (Baldivis)

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On 8 September Hope Community Church Baldivis, held its first weekly service in the newly built Baldivis Secondary College (BSC). We praise God for his provision through this school community.

With very little public infrastructure in the Baldivis area, meeting space is difficult to come by. So we are delighted to use this new facility. We are currently meeting in the Media Centre Music Room (access via  school carpark on Pleasantview Parade, Baldivis) and are blessed to have access to some musical equipment, and an additional large room for running crèche and Sunday School.

Pastor Peter (above) has begun meeting with the chaplain at BSC to plan a Dad’s & Kids Campout at the school in November. The intention is to extend an invitation to dads of year 6 and 7 students at the local primary schools to join the year 8 children at Baldivis Secondary college. Hope CCB will provide assistance to run this event including set up, games and cooking a large breakfast for all in attendance.  Please pray for the Lord’s rich blessing and provision on this event and for the families that partake.

In addition to this outreach strategy, the ladies at Hope have been running a weekly Toddler Jam, involving dance and play for mums with young children. We are delighted that a number of community mums have joined us and good friendships are being built, not to mention the great fun the kids are having!

Plans are now also underway to run an Introducing God course for our friends who would like to know more about our God and his Son Jesus Christ. This relaxed and conversational approach to sharing the gospel has been a real blessing for many.

Join us in praying that the Lord will draw a good number of friends to come. This will run during term four.

We recognise that it is the Lord who builds His church, so please join us in thanking God for His wonderful provision. Please ask Him to draw to us those whom He is calling into relationship with Christ and to serve in His Kingdom.

Peter Smit

Summerleas Christian Church (Tasmania) How God is using a church to show he is real

[The ministries of the CRCA come to expression in many different contexts. In many instances, ministries supported by the CRCA come to expression at the level of the local church, so while many things receive denominational funding, it’s the local church which benefits most. In the following article, Clinton Berends, Chairman of the Church Planting Taskforce, writes about one of the CRCA’s latest church plants, Summerleas Christian Church. As you read about lives impacted by the Gospel, be encouraged to see CRCA denominational funds supporting wonderful Gospel ministry. – DG]

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Summerleas’ Pastor Dave Lynch baptises a new believer at Kingston Beach, Tasmania

Just over six years ago, in line with the four-fold task, the CRCA established the Church Planting Taskforce (CPT) with the mandate of encouraging and resourcing the work of Church Planting throughout the denomination. At the most recent CRCA Synod it was reported that, under God’s grace, four new churches have been instituted in the last three years and many more church plants are underway or in the planning stages.

“…God used people here to show me that he’s real…”

One of the churches is Summerleas Christian Church, in southern Tasmania. Summerleas was planted in 2008, and since that time has been blessed greatly, growing from just over 50, to nearly 100. It has been exciting to see the Lord at work in the lives of people.

Pastor David Lynch says “It has also been exciting to see our vision begin to take shape and to actually work as we seek to disciple one another and reach out to others. It has taken a good 3 years or so (and we’re still working at it) to get our heads around what it means for us to live as a Gospel centred organic community (our vision) and so to see this finally start to happen is such a joy.”

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Summerleas people relaxing and building community – the smiles say it all

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While some of that growth has been transfers from other churches, there have been conversions and reconnections to church and Christ that had been dormant for some time. While we don’t want to get hung up on numbers, it’s worth remembering that every number is a person who has come to life in Christ. Here are some comments by those who have come to faith in Summerleas:

I realise that God knew exactly what I needed – to be overwhelmed and surrounded with Christians, not just on a Sunday but every day, all the time, so that I didn’t have a chance to not think about it, or let it slip into the background.

When [my son] was in grade 1 [a friend from S’leas] talked to me about her church (now ours) … and how kid – friendly it was.  [my son] had been to church a few times with my mother but not with me.  I took the chance and came along to church. I guess that’s when I started being more aware of my sinful nature and I am different from the person I was.

I also believe that God used people here to show me that he’s real. I have met so many genuine, generous, kind people since I’ve been here, and every one of them has been a Christian, and it got me thinking that if these people are Christians, and this is how good they are, there must be something to it!

Joining in … on rhythms and family meals was a great way to get to know the members of the church better. I have met lots of Christians who have an active relationship with God – it is not a once a week event…it is their life.

The impact has not just been felt by those who have come the church in that time. There has been great benefit for those who were involved in the original core team. David Lynch says

“(this impact has been) huge, everyone has grown immensely and I would say that almost all of them are more active in making disciples than before. Many have grown into wonderful church leaders, and others have stepped up in ways that they would not have done had they not been part of a church plant.”

As a denomination we have much to give thanks for, including the ministry of church planting, as seen in places like Summerleas. We ought to continue to pray that God would continue to raise up leaders, church planters and church planting teams as he continue to draw the lost to himself through his people.

Clinton Berends

CRCA Church Planting Taskforce

Note: you can also read more about Summerleas Christian Church on the CRCA Ministry Formation Website – DG