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

 

 

Ministry Formation: A short History

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We have all heard about Ministry Formation, but why was this work begun, and what is it seeking to do now?

In 2003, Synod established the Ministry Formation Workgroup. This committee got to work with developing ways that local churches can better engage in the work of developing leaders and engaging in mission in their local communities.

In 2006 this work was expanded as Synod appointed a Mission Training Coordinator (Rev Jack de Vries) to spearhead this work. Jack worked hard with the Ministry Formation Workgroup to promote the Four Fold Task, adopted in 2006. The Four Fold Task had the basic mission statement “The Christian Reformed Churches of Australia are churches reforming to reach the lost for Christ.” We call this a ‘mission statement’ because it outlines the core task that we are working toward. This mission was divided into four main tasks:

Pray: To call upon God for such an outpouring of his Spirit that his people will be assured of his love through his Word, seek to please the Saviour in all things, manifest the godly life and be filled with prayerful and sacrificial compassion for the lost in all the world

Multiply: To enable local churches to expand numerically, equip and nurture their members, and become the mother-churches of as many fellowships and congregations as possible; and also to take further initiatives to create fellowships by penetrating structures of society with the gospel.

Train: To multiply the number of well-trained persons (ordained, non-ordained, full time, part time, voluntary) lovingly dedicated to the creation and development of such fellowships and congregations by proclaiming the gospel

Align: To reform continually the life of the denomination (including our church ethos, customs, church order, use of resources, denominational committees, support staff and agencies) to encourage and enable the fulfilment of the fundamental aim

Synod 2009 affirmed these core tasks, and embarked on some restructuring work that would enable local churches to pursue these tasks more effectively.

Both before and after Synod 2009, however, some thought the Four Fold Task was too narrowly focused around mission work, and that it did not give enough emphasis to important tasks like pastoral care and preaching. For reasons like these, Synod 2012 modified the tasks to include aspects of church health – which obviously includes aspects like preaching and pastoral care. The hope is that these decisions will see local churches with growing emphases on matters of

Discipleship: growing disciples is an all of life process. Whether we are talking about children, youth, young adults, middle aged or young people, we are to encouraged them and develop them as disciples of Jesus. The overall goal is to move people toward maturity in Christ (see Col 1:28). We will be working hard to help local churches find effective ways to encourage people of all ages to grow in their faith, to be positively engaged in their local church, and to develop their determination to express the Kingdom in their daily lives.

Leader training: a specific work group has been developed to provide resources to help local churches train and develop elders, deacons, and other leaders. Obviously, a decision at Synod cannot make things happen at the local level. These resources need to be embraced and fully implemented in local churches.

Growing and developing healthy churches: in addition to the core tasks of faithful preaching, proper administration of the sacraments, and faithful application of church discipline, there are many resources local churches can use to help them assess how they are going and find ways to become more healthy.

In the same way that no person can ever say that they have ‘made it’ and that they don’t have to grow any more. Local churches, too, can never say ‘we’ve arrived’ or ‘we’re doing everything perfectly. Church health, then, will only ever be relative.

With a view to assist local churches in this work, Synod agreed to establish Church Health Networks in every Classis. Jack de Vries will work with Classes to help local churches do the sort of things that will lead them to greater health.

So Synod 2012 has made a good move: the denomination has a more simple structure which, Lord willing, will help members move more effectively toward maturity, which will help train elders and other leaders, and which will result in the sort of growth that honours Christ our Saviour.

CRCA Structure 2009

2009 Structure

CRCA Structure 2012

2012 Structure

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”” (Matthew 28:18–20, NIV)

– Dave Groenenboom