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

 

 

September Catalyst is ready for download

Hi Everyone,

September Catalyst is all ready to go!

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We have stories about a new church plant in WA, some advice for Christian fiction writers, stories from the Reformed Theological College, and some prayers from generations past.

Our hope is that you’ll be encouraged by what you read, and the the Lord in His grace will drive you deeper into living to the glory of Jesus his Son.

Get your copy by clicking on this link

And don’t forget: you can print copies off for those who do not have access to a computer or internet. Catalyst is formatted for A4, so it’s just a matter of sending it through to your printer!

Happy reading, folks – and as always – happy to have your feedback, so leave a comment!

Dave Groenenboom

Editor

June Catalyst is ready for download!

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Hi everyone,

June Catalyst is ready for download. There are great stories about mission in Burma, about training events held in various states, and plenty of other news about good things happening in CRCA Congregations all around Australia and in overseas mission contexts

Get your copy by clicking on this link.

And don’t forget: you can print copies off for those who do not have access to a computer or internet. Catalyst is formatted for A4, so it’s just a matter of sending it through to your printer!

Happy reading, folks – and as always – happy to have your feedback!

Dave Groenenboom

Editor

PS. This file has been edited to include the correct email address for Rev Gerald Hanscamp. (Jul 02)

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CRCA Ministry Share – and why it’s a very good thing…

Ever wondered what your church’s ‘ministry share’ actually achieves? Is it really just a ‘church tax’? It may be time to think again. Tony Deenick tells us why…

[This material is being circulated so local churches and pastors can encourage their members to give generously to the CRCA Deficit Reduction Appeal, which is being held this coming Sunday, August 19, in many CRCA congregations – DG]

As individual churches there are often things we would like to do which we can’t afford or can’t easily do on our own. Alternatively, we may simply want to do some things less expensively or do them better by being part of a group. So every three years at a meeting of representatives of all our churches, called the Synod, we decide what things we can best do together as a denomination. To pay for these ministries churches agree to pay a “ministry share” based on membership. In practice the ministry share represents around 6% (±3%) of a church’s budget, depending on size and levels of giving.

So what does your church’s Ministry Share payment accomplish?

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Well, it is used to cover administration and denominational legal obligations, such things as setting minister’s salary levels, providing for long service leave, collecting and disbursing superannuation payments, paying copyright fees and providing financial advice. Some of the money goes towards maintaining the denominational website and web addresses and publishing the annual church yearbook. Other funds are used to provide for the cost of Synods and the work of synodical committees which provide oversight over the joint activities and denominational workers. Some committees undertake research on behalf of the churches in areas of common interest. For example, the last Synod set up a committee to look into the salaries of ministers and ministry workers and another to investigate the best alternative to replace the 1984 version of the NIV for church use. All these activities are provided or supported by the denominational Treasurer and Administrator.

The largest proportion of ministry share funds goes towards providing leadership, mentoring, training and support to local churches through our denominational workers

A significant proportion of the money goes towards supporting the work of the Reformed Theological College in Geelong and the Candidacy Committee as they prepare people for ministry in our churches, monitor their progress and provide them with a vicariate (a year of “on the job” training in a local church under the guidance of a senior pastor). In addition some funds are used to help cover the costs of leadership training in churches and in-service training and support at ReCharge (Ministers & Wives) conferences. A small part of ministry share also goes towards supporting the denomination’s mission in the Solomons.

The largest proportion of ministry share funds goes towards providing leadership, mentoring, training and support to local churches through our denominational workers: the Ministry Development Coach and the Youth and Children’s Coordinators. They also help promote the vision of the CRCA and coordinate joint activities by the churches.

In particular, the Ministry Development Coach is responsible for resourcing churches for growth, health and development, promoting collaborative approaches in this and other training initiatives, promoting the CRCA vision including producing newsletters and overseeing the denominational website, and generally assisting and coaching ministers, church planters and other church workers.

The Youth Coordinator is responsible for assisting with training in youth leadership, development of youth evangelism and nurture in the local church, oversight of regional and national youth programs such as the ministry internship program and convention planning, management of the Resource Centre, and general coaching, support and encouragement of youth workers in our churches.

The Children’s Coordinator is responsible for promoting effective children’s ministries in the local churches, providing resources for these ministries, overseeing and providing training in the ChildSafe program, maintaining a healthy network of children’s workers and providing them with advice and support.

By working together through a relatively small ‘ministry share’, contribution, each local church helps to provide substantial services and support to all the churches corporately.

Your generous support through ministry share helps the CRCA continue to deliver good leadership and helpful resources to local churches.

– Tony Deenick Building & Finance Committee (previously known as The Synodical Board of Management)