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.

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

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!

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Got feedback? Leave a comment on this post!

Grace and peace,

Dave Groenenboom
Editor
Pastor: Gateway Community Church

 

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

MARCH Catalyst Out Now!

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CATALYST March is out!

The next edition of CRCA Catalyst has been released and is ready for download here.

This new edition discusses the following

  • Three recently ordained CRCA Pastors share their varied paths toward ministry
  • We visit Narre Warren’s Transit Soup Kitchen, and observe how they are bringing Jesus to the least, the last, and the lost
  • We look at the RTC’s Fan The Flame conference, and see how it works to clarify people’s expectations about study for ministry and mission
  • Joe Vermeulen writes about Cyber Bullying, and what we can do about it

We encourage you to view and download the latest Catalyst, and share the link as widely as possible.

If you want to leave feedback, please make a comment on the blog.

Happy Reading!

Dave Groenenboom

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