Category Archives: Church Planting

Population Projections: Who’s coming?

When thinking about the future, the science (art? mathematics? guesswork?) of population projections can tell us a lot. How many people are likely to live in a particular place? What kind of housing will they occupy? What jobs will they work in? Will they have kids…and what schools are planned?

All these questions (and the associated answers) can help us think about how we join with God in mission in a particular locality.

And there’s a whole bunch of places where we can start looking for the data.  Click through for a few options to pursue when it comes to tracking down population projections for your community. Continue reading

Regional Profiles: Who lives here?

Screenshot 2014-02-11 14.06.48One of the most helpful things for a local church contemplating how to join with God in mission within the local setting, is to put together a statistical profile of their local community.

This helps us by making clear just who lives within our neighbourhoods, how the neighbourhood is travelling in terms of employment, multiculturalism, education and a host more aspects.

Here are four straightforward ways to assemble this kind of data.

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A Clear Call: UCA Mission & Evangelism Conference

A Clear Call is a national conference for the Uniting Church to have opportunity to engage in how we share our faith contextually where we each live, love and have our being. Our hope is that it will engage heart, mind and practical applications of sharing the great love of God that was first extended to us.

It is for everyone who would like to share their faith and would benefit from conversation, information and practical examples. It is for all people: lay people, ordained, teams, young adults, all cultures and the full spectrum of theology of the Uniting Church.

It will be be fun, deep, thoughtful, energetic, thought provoking and practical. It will approach faith-sharing from every angle.

This will be an excellent conference for anybody interested in exploring mission and evangelism.  it’s in Adelaide 28-30 March 2014. Head over to the website for more information and to register, or to the event facebook page to interact with others thinking of attending.

Reflecting on Australian Fresh Expressions Conference 2014

Last week marked a special occasion with the first Australian national Fresh Expressions/Mission Shaped Ministry Conference taking place.

Fresh Expressions is a term describing creativity and innovation in approaches to church and faith community. It (the term) emerged from the UK over the last 10 years after a ground breaking report (Mission Shaped Church) set the Church of England, Methodist and later the United Reformed Church on a path exploring fresh approaches.

One of the training tools developed in the UK to help local leadership groups plan and establish fresh expressions is called Mission Shaped Ministry.  The course has been trialled in Australia (specifically in Adelaide, Canberra and Melbourne) by a collaboration of churches (Lutheran, Anglican, Uniting, Baptist at least) over the past few years.

This year’s conference grew from that collaboration and drew a variety of participants including  (a) ‘pioneer’ leaders planning or leading ‘fresh expressions'; (b) ministers or leaders of the traditional church wanting to make space for fresh expressions; (c) denominational mission staff; and (d) those who have been involved in the pilot MSM courses.

The gathering was resourced by the UK’s Dave Male and Ben Edson. Dave and Ben both have broad experience in both leading fresh expressions themselves, and in supporting or training other pioneer leaders. Between them they explored a range of topics around the task of pioneering. Here’s a few of the highlights (at least from where I sat): Continue reading

Stetzer on “Going Missional”

Ed Stetzer spoke yesterday at the Transformational Leadership event hosted by Newlife Uniting Church. Along with a whole lot of interesting input around leadership and becoming churches in which transformation happens, Ed walked through the ways in which a church needs to change to become revitalised, to “go missional”.

Here’s some of his outline based on the notes I took (the good stuff from Ed, the errors in translation from me!) in this particular session:

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Transformational Leadership – with Ed Stetzer

This December 5th, Newlife Uniting church are hosting a one day event with Ed Stetzer on Transformational Leadership.

Full details over at the Newlife website, event on facebook and registration online.

Looks like a pretty interesting day for church leaders of all varieties, and a nice way to start thinking about 2014.

I’ll be there, come and join in?

Chris Elrod on Church Planting

Chris Elrod, pastor at Compass Point, Lakeland Florida, has been writing honestly about his experiences of church planting over three years with the Southern Baptist Convention. Chris has a background as a comedian and toured the United States during the 1990s. In January he wrote a four part series on his blog talking about the reframing of his leadership of the congregation that began as a Bible study in his lounge in 2004.

After three years Chris realised that he’d become sucked in to the pressure to recreate the coolness of well known ‘hip’ churches, trying to become the next Mark Driscoll or Rob Bell. Attempts to ramp up numbers through guilt messages and high profile community stunts just didn’t work, and in fact backfired. Read his posts to pick up on what he learned about integrity and compassion.

Part 1: I was heading around turn three when all of a sudden it spun out of control

Part 2: The Sound Of Screeching Tires And Crunching Metal

Part 3: Life On Pit Row

Part 4: The Conclusions.

The four part article has also been reproduced at Next-Wave Ezine.

Forge Seminars on Pioneering Leadership

Forge Missional Training Network is offering two weekends on pioneering leadership for mission in October, each with different content.

Friday/Saturday 12/13 October Goodlife Community Church, Buderim
Friday/Saturday 26/27 October Bracken Ridge Baptist Church, Bracken Ridge

Speakers are Stephen Hinks (ACOM), Randy Edwards (ACOM), Lloyd Martin (Praxis New Zealand), Duncan Brown (Capacity Builders), Beatriz Skippen (UC Prison Ministries), Dave Chatelier, Brent Sweeney and Brett Swan.

Steve Turner will be running Saturday afternoon workshops for the Uniting Church’s U-Turn initiative, encouraging the development of small groups that engage people outside the church environment.

Cost is $45 per day. Download the registration form here.

Forge seminars on Spirituality Discipleship and Sustainability

Forge Queensland is offering two weekends on sustainable models of spirituality and discipleship, over two weekends, 9 – 5 pm on the Friday and Saturday. Previous ‘intensives’ were held over four days, Friday – Saturday, Monday – Tuesday.

This Spirituality Discipleship and Sustainability unit focuses on the specific spirituality issues faced by people involved in pioneering mission to emerging global cultures.

In relation to spirituality, it relates to finding God outside the church and in strange places. Christian spirituality has been so tied to a Christendom mode of church, and as a result of that we have become dualistic in our understanding of God, church and world. Life is divided into sacred and secular, and God is found in one but not the other. This unit seeks to address this issue directly and help the student to re-conceive his/her relationship to God and the world in a more holistic and biblical way.

The nature and essential character of discipleship will also be explored in relation to contemporary cultural situations and alternative religions. The unit will focus particularly on consumerism as a major religious alternative to Christianity today.

Finally, because missional work is difficult, the unit explores the whole concept of sustainability – staying in there for the long haul. Appropriate disciplines and structures for sustainable mission are developed.

Forge Intensive Heading

This unit presents new models of spirituality, consistent and sustainable for mission in a post-modern context.

By the successful completion of this unit, the student should be able to:
• Demonstrate a thorough knowledge of models of sustainable mission in ‘edgy’ missional contexts.
• Demonstrate a well-developed understanding of ways in which prevailing forms of Christian spirituality can move to being more actional and concrete rather than passive and conceptual.
• Display a well-developed ability to describe and analyse the prevailing consumerist model of church and faith in the West and propose new models of discipleship and spirituality.
• Present a critical response, demonstrating well-developed skills in evaluating how churches worldwide are reinterpreting worship in a missional mode, and how this draws on the history of worship.
• Value and critically regard sources of spirituality outside the church and the opportunities that provide for deepening faith.
• Value radical discipleship over consumerism amongst the people of God.

1) Spirituality outside of the church.
2) Sustainability and mission.
3) Leadership and character issues.
4) Mission and the Spirit.
5) Community.
6) Discipleship & growth.
7) Hebraic foundations for a missional spirituality
8) Justice and a spirituality of activism.
9) Discipling “twenty somethings”.

June 15-16
Goodlife Community Centre Sunshine Coast

Session 1 & 2 Dave Andrews – community as the discipling process
Session 3 & 4 Ken Baker on Hebraic foundations for a missional spirituality
Julia Verdouw on sustainability with finances

July 13-14
Bracken Ridge Baptist Church

Stephen Said, Duncan Macleod, David Chatelier will work through issues surrounding spirituality, consumerism and generational leadership.

The cost is $40 per day or 2 days for $60. Students and unemployed – a donation.

Download the registration form here.

Mission Shaped Church

Mission Shaped Church book coverChurch Planting and fresh expressions of church in a changing context

Parish churches alone are no longer able to meet the needs of the highly mobile society of today. We need a range of expressions of church to engage with the variety of networks in our communities.

Mission-Shaped Church is a Church of England report, published in 2004. At the heart of the report is the need for a ‘mixed economy’ of parish churches and network churches in active partnership across a wide geographical area.

Most people do not naturally build their friendship circles on the basis of geography, choosing instead to rely on informal networks. In many cases people live in isolation, becoming consumers without community. ‘Fresh expressions’ of church are needed to connect such networks with Christian faith.

‘Fresh expressions’ generally occur outside the normal Sunday morning worship service. Most connect small groups and relational mission and relate to a particular network of people. Examples given include alternative worship communities, café church, cell church, churches arising out of community initiatives, school-based and school-linked congregations, traditional church plants, new monastic communities and youth congregations.

The Mission-Shaped Church report strongly recommends that fresh expressions become legally recognised by the wider church rather than be treated as an interesting experiment or project. Bishops (read Presbyteries?) are urged to broker the sending of fresh mission teams to cultures or areas where mission presence is thin or non-existent. The report pushes for the identification, selection and training of pioneer church planters, both lay and ordained.

Mission Shaped Church is available from Koorong or can be downloaded as a free PDF file from or bought at the Planning to Plant conference in Brisbane, February 15.

Also available: Mission-shaped Church: A Theological Response by John M. Hull, and Building the Mission-Shaped Church in Australia, by Alan Nichols.