Refresh, turns out to be truly refreshing

Greetings all,

This last fortnight 17 planting couples from around Australia were Refreshed for the hard work of planting new churches in Sydney at the Vibe Hotel. It was a very encouraging time where couples benefited from the wisdom of Paul and Sue Harrington on marriage and ministry, were given time to reflect on their marriage, learn from experts on sex, money and health and be encouraged by hearing planting updates from couples from all over. 

Peter and Audrey Hughes (planted in Macquarie, Sydney) write: ‘Thankyou for supporting the Geneva Refresh. The last two years my wife and I have arrived feeling emotionally beaten up by our work of church planting. Refresh helped us regather and feel like there were more people on our side so we can keep going in the work.’

And from Renae Godden (and Dan – planting in Wollongong in early 2012), she writes: ‘Just wanted to say a huge thank you for refresh! We had an awesome time and really appreciate your organisation of the two days and the generosity of Geneva and its donors!’

Thanks again for your partnership in the gospel.

Pray for our planters!
Please pray for each of these couples, some of whom are nearing year 3 of their plants and for others who are about to move their families to new places (particularly, Tim and Belinda Grant (Box Hill, Melbourne); Dan and Renae Godden (Wollongong, NSW); Rowan and Sarah Hilsden (Auckland, NZ) and Aaron and Gaby Boyd (Clifton Hill, Melbourne).

You can hear from these couples on our vimeo site:

Tim and Belinda
Dan and Renae Godden
Rowan and Sarah Hilsden
Todd and Laurel.

Pray for National In the Chute – Melbourne 26-28 November
Please pray for much wisdom as we assess 12 couples at this years National In the Chute in the Melbourne. Ask the Lord of the harvest to raise up more gospel workers for the hard work of starting new ministries and seeing new churches started.

I’m looking forward to seeing God continue to build His church across Australia.

In Christ

MAKE or break

If you have a moment to pray, spend it bringing Jai and Jay-Ellen Wright and their team before God. They’re fighting to make the most of every contact in Mackay and it’s slow going at present.

Jay-Ellen also shares in her latest prayer letter how they’re having to guard their family from evil influence even as they seek to bring the light of the Gospel to lost Aussies. Few parents feel ready to give the talk about the birds and the bees; even fewer whose kids are 6 and 7.

If you haven’t seen it already, have a look at Scott Sanders’ interview with Jai on the The launch – and what happened next…

In the meantime, Jay-Ellen has these prayer points to share:

– For the bully who has been worrying their daughter to come to know Jesus and have his ways changed
– For us to help our girls process what’s gone on and for their protection
– For a godly framework on sex and marriage to be instilled in the girls hearts & wisdom for us to know how to teach this
– For wisdom and grace for Jai and I at: home & church & with each other
– We are feeling the ‘small and slow’ grind of parachute church planting, please pray for perseverance for us.

Keep them in your prayers!

“Mackay, we have lift off”

Weeks after the launch of their new church plant in Mackay, QLD, Jai and Jay-Ellen Wright report that things are going as well as could be expected. Here’s what they’ve passed on:

The first Sunday after the launch we had 4 new adults come! Praise God! And lots of conversations during the week about the flyers, newspaper article – we’re on the map! We also had our MTS trainer and his wife stay during the week, it was lovely to have them around, we LOVE visitors!

A couple of weeks after the launch Jai headed to Sydney for ten days for a couple of conferences. He needs some head space, so it’s good timing. Jay-Ellen also went to the Sydney Anglican Wives Conference, which was a great encouragement, even though it was crazy timing after having just launched it was God’s timing through and He taught both Jai and I heaps!

Please pray

That God would sustain Jai and I and grant us all wisdom
That God would work through us to love those who have come to church bringing them to maturity in Christ through the preaching of the word

So don’t forget to keep the Wrights in your prayers this weekend if you’re planning a service. And if you’d like to get updates from Jai and Jay-Ellen straight to your inbox, you can contact them at

– Ed.

The launch … and what came next

Here’s an edited extract from an email conversation Scott Sanders had with Toby Neal (Vine Church) and Jai Wright (Mackay Evangelical) in the weeks after their successful plants in Surry Hills, NSW and Mackay, QLD…

Hi Toby and Jai. How’s things t

ravelling at weeks 2 and 3 after launch? How’ve you gone following newcomers up?

Toby: Going really well. Over 50 people there on Sunday. Feels like we’re gaining momentum. Everyone is very excited. We need more space. We’ve got two options: move or start a second congregation in a local pub (my preference).

Follow up is ok. We’re looking at getting Church Community Builder to help out with it a bit more. We’re not doing great at getting comment cards filled in though, and we need to start taking a collection.

Scott: Jai, Jay-ellen’s prayer wrote to us, “The first Sunday after the launch we had four new adults come!  Praise God!  And lots of conversations during the week about the flyers, newspaper article – we’re on the map!

Jai, you had 40 the first week and 35 next week for MAKE. Toby, at Vine Church – 140 then 50. Was it a larger supporter base? More people known in Sydney (a large city) vs. Mackay (a regional city)?

What can we learn from both MAKE and Vine launches?’

Toby: We had 150+ first week. Most were friends and family. Over the past couple of weeks some of them have come back, but we have had others from elsewhere come in. We did do a mass letterbox drop – 12,000+ – but I don’t actually think it was that successful. We perhaps had ten people come through it, and thus far only three have really connected.

One thing that the launch did was create a bunch of noise for our church. As a result our team got excited and invited their friends because they could see all the energy we were putting in: graphic design, postcards, Facebook, Twitter, music, catering etc.

I think we probably had more than Jai because we’re already connected in Sydney. The vast majority of the 150+ were friends and family of people in our church. Every member brought on average 2-3 people with them.

I also think our preaching series has been really helpful to invite people along. It wasn’t gimmicky, but fits into the kind of church we want to be: one where we can ask tough and honest questions about faith and spirituality.

Things to learn:

• Start with a series that seeks to converse with the questions of people in the community.
• Throw a party. We got a caterer and had alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks.
• Explain to your people that we’re already a church, and we’re just taking our church public, letting the city know that we’re hear and serious about speaking to them about faith and spirituality.
• Make it shorter and more accessible than usual.
• Tap in to media outlets. Create a Facebook event, post regular updates on Facebook and Twitter, ask popular blogs to blog it, send out media releases to local papers and radio, get good quality graphic design that fits the people you are reaching out to.
• Pray. We had two prayer meetings on the two Monday nights prior to the event. Additionally in our community groups we had been praying for three friends to invite to the event.

Scott: Toby, very helpful. Jai?

I think Toby has some great thoughts in there about how to launch well.

Interesting picking up some of the differences between our contexts from what Toby has said.

Really I think we’re in a lot earlier stage here in Mackay – launching to gather a launch team, who’ll be ready to re-launch down the track.  We had 30 people on launch day and have had average of 20 people each week since. We’ve got twelve adults coming along regularly now and another five or so who look like they might be regular attendees.

We were working towards the launch with seven adults (including Jay and I).  Only one guy out of those seven has any family in town and over half the team has only been in Mackay since January. So we’re not drawing on the same relational base and this is maybe typical of people in Mackay where people only live here five to six years on average. 

In the end, I think that only people Jay and I had invited came along to the launch.  We’ve only had three adults come along from flyers (we put out 10,000), but two of those three have connected really well and I think I’d like to hold off before I make too much judgment about the effectiveness, until we’ve put out three or four lots of flyers. We plan to put them out every three months or so – I see it’s a way of trying to develop a relationship with 10,000 people. Anecdotally we’ve heard of a few friends who got flyers and though they didn’t make it to church, it’s moved them a step closer.

We didn’t do as much advertising for the launch as Toby, mainly cause we didn’t have the manpower to pull it off.  It was personal invites, website, 10,000 flyers, a few signs out the front of the building on Sunday and a newspaper article after the event.

Also, an advantage of being small is that follow up is heaps easier 😉 We’ve had one or two new people each week for the last two months. It’s been pretty easy to direct them to our visitors book and to be able to follow up on a one to one basis as suits them.

In terms of prayer, we’ve got over a hundred people receiving prayer updates fortnightly and at least six churches praying regularly for the work, with lots of reports of people praying for us.  We also had two prayer meetings as a team leading up to the launch.  So I guess I was expecting pretty big things of God – we were praying for 40 adults and 30 kids at the launch.  Naturally I was a bit disappointed with the outcome, but in reality we can see God’s wisdom in sending us a slow drip of new people rather than a big mass of people at once.

Realistically it’s what we’ve been able to manage as a family and as a launch team.  But helpful to be having this conversation about the practical aspects of launching which God so often uses to do his work.

Scott: Thanks for the insights. We’ll continue to pray for you both.

Soma on the right track

Pete Hughes at Soma church has passed on a brilliant story about how ordinary church members can take on the DNA of a church plant and find mission fields on their doorstep. He tells it best…

I have started meeting with a guy called Cam to read the Bible with weekly. Cam has spent the last 15 years living the dream, literally: drugs, sex and rock and roll. But now as he reaps some of the fruit of his sin he is realizing that he needs renewal and a new life.

The reason we are reading the Bible is because his neighbours, Chris and Anna, are from Soma and decided that their block of flats would be their mission field. Cam made an interesting comment to me about his views on Christianity when we last met.

“Unless I had met people like Chris and Anna, I would have dismissed Christianity as something that people who don’t want to think need in their life for meaning”

Cam is now reading the Bible, about a book a week, meeting with me, coming to one of the Gospel Communities and the Gathering. In his words he is still getting what the whole story is about before he makes any sort of commitment. (When we first sat down to talk he did not own a Bible and had never even picked one up in 20 years). But this is what Soma is about. Reaching people who would not have walked into a church.

Thanks Pete! And let’s not forget to pray for our brothers and sisters meeting in the Macquarie Shopping Centre in Sydney if you’re putting prayer points together for a service this weekend. Specifically they’ve asked us to:

Thank God for the way he has provided for us so far.
Please pray that we would continue to raise not just the money we need, but money that will help fund our evangelistic strategies like our Gospel Communities.
Please pray we would make the most of being a church meeting in a shopping centre, especially over the summer.
Please pray that we would continue to be a community changed and shaped by God and His Gospel.

If you’d like to receive Soma updates from Pete directly, you can get your name added by contacting


Lessons from the burbs

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

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.

– Ed.


Jobs with experienced church planters

Greetings all,

Trinity Bay’s John Warner has contacted us to let us know that two great opportunities have opened up for guys who would like to learn church planting first-hand by working with an experienced team. Two church plants connected with Holy Trinity Adelaide are looking for assistant ministers. Here are the details he’s provided:

Assistant Minister’s Jobs in Adelaide

1) Trinity Bay Church is a church plant of Holy Trinity Adelaide in it’s 6th year of ministry.
With a growing 10am family gathering and a newly planted 6pm gathering we are keen to bring on an assistant minister.
As well as 6pm over site, there are exciting evangelistic and training opportunities along with the chance to be trained up to plant your own ministry down the track.
For more information, please contact John Warner, 0412255610,

2) Trinity North East Church is … in its second year.  We have experienced significant growth over the last 12 months and as we prepare to plant again we are looking for a pastor who is able to lead and grow our network.  This will involve oversight and development of our 15 community groups, leading local evangelistic events within our region and be involved in our Sunday ministries.  Please contact James Harricks 0425370434,

We can’t think of a better way of learning church planting from the ground up than in the company of such experienced guys.

Go to it!

– Ed.

The latest from Mackay

Jai and Jay-Ellen up at Mackay have sent us the latest on their church plant launch last weekend. We thought we’d share the good news:

We’ve launched!! We didn’t have the 40 adults and 30 kids…  but PRAISE God!!!: 22 adults and 9 kids (from 4 adults and 5 kids at the very start) My friend from school and her kids came 1 man came from the flyer drop A handful of ministers from the ‘North Mackay’ region came as a support to us (we’ve been catching up fortnightly for coffee) The girl from walk up last week came back this week The launch team did a great job hosting and reaching out to the newbies There was an awesome “vibe” We all had a really great time!!! (the launch team have just ‘debriefed’ over home made cold rock 🙂 and were really pumped) So thank-you, thank-you for your prayers. I was feeling a bit despondent during the songs at the end (particularly as I had prepared kids church for 30 and had <10 :-) a fair change) but God reminded me that He's brought a new person each week for the last 4 weeks and that there are still a few irons in the fire, so to speak, and that He will build His church. Yay! Thanks guys and please pray that we would follow up well and have great follow up convos with the friends we invited but didn't come!! Lots of Love, Jay-e and Jai

Don’t forget to keep praying. The church has already received a good amount of attention from the local community with Jai’s first service rating a picture in the paper. Jai and Jay’s daughter, Amber, has taken it in to show her class. And Jay-Ellen reports that her Mum and Dad may have recruited the Motel owners where they are staying, while she and the rest of the team have had some great chats with interested locals. We’ll pass on prayer points as they arrive. – Ed.

Six months in Dubai?

This is not strictly our patch – Geneva Push is an Australian church planting network – but we couldn’t help but want to give a hand to the guys doing good work in Dubai. Jim Burgess is pastoring a church over there which is experiencing extraordinary growth and he’s on the look-out for someone to assist him.

The work has grown from 70 to 700 in 2 years and they expect to reach 850 in September when people return from their summer break. With just two full-time pastoral staff they desperately need help to disciple so many new people, many of whom are not Christian or very new to the faith. They position is preferably long-term, though Pastor Burgess would settle for a short term commitment (6 months) while they wait to find a long-termer. The position is also fully funded so there’s no need to raise support.

Interested? Click here to download the job description.

And if it’s not for you, take a moment to pray for the work in Dubai.

Dan Godden and prayer for the Gong

Part of being a church that has church planting in its DNA is learning to pray for church plants. If you’re planning a service this weekend, would you consider including some of the prayer points from Dan and Renae Godden, planting in Wollongong?

Dan Godden
On the 25th June our core group got together in Wollongong for the first time to get into God’s word and think into what its going to look like to be a church who exist for the glory of God’s name. It was encouraging and exciting as we ‘eyeballed’ each other for the first time, but also challenging as we confronted God’s word.

– Praise God for his grace in providing some fantastic people who have agreed to serve God with us in this new work. Particularly those who are moving from some distance into Wollongong. Pray for them that all the stresses that go on with moving away from friends and family wouldn’t be too great a burden.
– Pray that we’d be wise in putting together all the bits and pieces that go into being a legal organisation (budget, constitution, insurance etc).
– Give thanks to God for a fruitful time and good relationships begun with a bunch of church leaders in Wollongong. Praise God for the work of faithful churches in the Wollongong region in the past and pray that he would pour out his spirit and save many in the region in the future.
– Pray that as we set up for next year, the costs can be met and that partnerships with supporters and churches can be made into the future for the sake of the gospel going to those who haven’t heard it.

If you’d like to get more information and prayer points regarding the Godden’s church plant, you can email Dan and ask to be added to his supporters list.