Pete and Liz Wood are in the second year of their church plant in the Sydney suburb of Ropes Crossing. Pete was asked by an Anglican church to reflect on the lesson’s he’s learned from planting in a new subdivision. He’s passed on a brief summary of his thoughts for all of us to reflect on:
A while ago I had the privilege of speaking to a men’s breakfast at Gungahlin Anglican church about church planting. Gungahlin is interested in what we’ve learned from our new suburb church planting experience because their whole area is made of new suburbs and they are trying to establish churches in them.
We’ve found church planting in a new suburb offers some unique challenges, the biggest being that the launch group must to be made up of local Christians. A launch cannot be parachuted in from a neighbouring, established suburb. The first issue with being ‘local’ then is that the buy-in price to join the launch group is the price of a new house. This cuts out many mission-minded Christians who might be prepared to come but cannot afford to relocate, and frightens off those who lack the faith to take such a step.
So not only is the planter trying to attract the interest of people who don’t yet know Jesus, he also has to build a launch team with people he has only just met and get them to gel as cohesive group with a solid mission goal and common theology. This can create a situation ripe for misunderstandings, hidden agendas, personality clashes and theological disagreements.
Added to this is the state of many Christians to whom church planting is attractive. Many are in some way disillusioned with their current or previous churches. They carry baggage of one sort or another – including the planter and his family! At best they are disillusioned by a perceived lack of mission at their previous church, but many are more serious issues. So the church planter needs to help these Christians deal decisively with their past while training them for mission in a new and changing setting.
The sub-division church plant can also produce another common struggle: a lack of financial commitment from many of its members. The cost of their new household alongside of the lack of familiarity with the planter makes them less prepared to open their wallets to support mission. So the planters finds themselves under extra pressure from every direction.
Pray that God can raise up wise planters to help Gungahlin with their new mission field.
Thanks Pete! If you’ve got some helpful notes about church planting that you’d like to pass on to Geneva Push community, fire us off an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the meantime if you’re preparing prayer notes for a service this weekend, don’t forget to keep in mind Pete and Liz who have returned from a short break and are busy building up their Kids’ Church service with the assistance of Minchinbury Anglican member Mick Bullen. Pete and Liz are asking us to particularly pray for an indoor space for the children to meet and that they can continue to care well for regulars, welcome newcomers and still be forming and developing relationships with other people in Ropes Crossing.