Telling people you’re telling people a plus

Greetings all,

As we release increasing amounts of information from the Lifeways study into church planting, one of the interesting growth factors to emerge is the consistency with which planters declare their mission. Take note of the accompanying graphic and you'll see that one of the key habits that correlates with success for new works is a habit of monthly communicating their committment to multiplication – but despite that, only 33% of our churches see this as a priority!

Underlining the importance of that practice is the advice of Craig Dobbie, the leader of the Mission Team at EV Church on NSW's Central Coast. Craig has decades of experience promoting mission in church plants. Considering how difficult it is for someone to turn to Jesus in the current climate, Craig says it's extrememly important that the teams establishing new works should do everything they can to celebrate a convert's decision, not just for their sake but for the sake of the church.

Celebrating people following Jesus from Geneva Push on Vimeo.

Church planting equipment ready to go

Greetings all,

Ken Sandell from over at Audio Advice has been personally part of multiple church plants over the past decades, so you can believe he's become quite experienced with the sort of audio / video equipment new works need. Most importantly, he understands how portable and easy to set up and store it has to be. 

He's contacted us to let us know that he has a fully kitted-out trailer for sale that would be suitable for a church plant operating out of a space that needs to be equipped each week. Would anyone be interested in the Geneva network? Take a look:

You can download the full equipment and price list in pdf form by clicking on this list. If you have other questions about audio requirements we thoroughly recommend you get in touch with Ken. Audio Advice has been a solid friend of numerous Gospel ministries over the years and we've personally found their advice and support to be spot on!

– Ed.

That thing you’ve been doing…

… might actually be church planting.

Greetings all!

One of the stranger conversations we can have over at Geneva Push is listening to a pastor's plans for their congregation and leading them to understand that the expansion they're planning is actually a church plant. Too often a church leader sees what they're doing as just 'adding another service'. However when that service involves a new time-slot, to another Australian sub-culture, in another location then you're as close to church planting as you can possibly get without using that label. 

So, to help people better understand another facet of church planting we thought we'd devote this month to explaining and discussing hub churches. Hub churches, sometimes called multi-site churches, are a style of planting where the new work keeps strong ties with the planting church and often shares resources and leadership teams across a number of locations. It's one way that pastors of existing churches can practically leverage their advantages to start new works for the Kingdom of God. 

Here's everything you need to know:

The practical points

Hub church for dummies – Scott Sanders explains 'Hub Churches For Dummies', defining the different types so that you can understand which might be most suitable for your Australian church planting context.

Multi-site churches: the when, how and why with Scott McConnell – Scott McConnell, the author of Multi-Site Churches, speaks to Geneva Push's Scott Sanders and answers all your practical questions about setting up a church over multiple sites. 

Lessons learned

Preparing the mother church to plant –  Phil Campbell at Mitchelton Presybeterian Church shares the steps he had to work through with his congregation in order to establish MPC's vibrant hub church ministry.

Lessons from mother-daughter planting – Al Stewart interviews Paul Harrington (rector of Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Adelaide) and Clayton Fopp (planter of Holy Trinity Mt Barker in 2010 – a granddaughter plant) on some of the lessons of mother/daughter church-planting.

Becoming a hub church pastor – Matt Lehmann has a unique perspective on hub church planting. His congregation was a hub plant from Adelaide's Trinity City, and he's about to plant out his own first hub church plant. He tells Geneva Push's Mark Hadley what he has learned from both ends fo the experience.

The Tasmanian test-case

The advantages of becoming a hub church plant – Scott Sanders interviews hub church planter Brian Vaastra on his experiences in Tasmania, alongside Graham Sayer, one of the pastors who works in the network Brian established.

Tasmania's vision for hub churches – From 2000 to the present, there has been a deliberate church planting effort in Tasmania by a network of pastors called The Vision 100 Network ( Mikey Lynch shares the key lessons learned from 15 years of concentrating on planting hub churches.

And if that's not enough, or you've got specific questions to ask, drop us a line at Geneva Push and we'll help put you in touch with the right people in the network to get your hub church plans going.

– Ed.

Advantages & disadvantages of mother-daughter church planting

Greetings all,

This month we're kicking off a series on the key steps for turning your church into a hub church – in short, a church that fosters the planting of many more churches. The natural place to begin is to allow someone who's experienced the process first hand to outline the advantages and disadvantages.

Trinity Mt Barker was launched in February 2010 and is part of the Trinity Network of churches in Adelaide, SA. I've often called this networks planting method the 'Rollys Royce' of planting. Helfpully, Clayton Fopp (church planter and lead pastor) outlines some of the highs and lows of the approach as follows:  

Advantages of mother-daughter planting

  • We inherited strong Trinity DNA. The Core Team and first Leadership Team (from 100 days after launch) had all been members of Trinity churches so we avoided uncertainties and disagreements over key goals, theological positions, etc.
  • We’d been able to prepare for evangelism as a large group for a while before launch, ie, Starting Six, praying for each other’s non-Christian friends, etc.
  • Strong connections to the Trinity Network. This includes budget contributions, ie half of planting pastors time in the year prior to launch was set aside for planting.
  • We were able to share some ministries early on with the sending church (12 minutes away). For our first year we sent our Friday night upper primary kids to youth group there.
  • Makes the most of existing relationships with non-Christians in the region, ie planting pastor and Starter Group are already engaged with lots of people across the community.  
  • Large Starter Group means ministry tasks can be shared among the members.  It also means we could try new ministries prior to launch, such as our Toys & Tucker door knocking at Christmas, since we already had 60 people on board.
  • In SA there is good “brand” familiarity for Trinity.  Being connected to Trinity in SA says “mainstream, stable, not lunatic”!

Disadvantages of mother-daughter planting

  • Large group on Sundays means it’s easy to think Sunday is all that matters and to lose evangelistic edge and focus.
  • Large numbers and rapid growth has put us at capacity in our building by about 20 months and struggling to find a larger capacity which means moving to two services in 2012.
  • Strong relationships in the sending church means we’ve seen some continual drift from the sending church to the plant in the first couple of years.
  • Not an insignificant percentage of the sending church are sent!  We took 60 from a church of two congregations with total attendance of 300.

You can here more about the Trinity Mt Barker story from Clayton Fopp here:

'Rolls Royce' model or read about it here. Food for thought, and more to come as February gets underway!

– Scott

Take stock before you launch into 2016

Greetings all!

January is an excellent month in Australian culture for slowing down and taking things a little easier. There's a general good will in the community that flows on from Christmas till Australia Day. Leftover celebration food means there's generally more interesting things in the fridge. The roads are smoother because the caravan parks are crowded. And even if you have to work, the inbox is emptier because people are spending more time surfing the web than sending messages.

So what might you do with your extra time before the seriousness of February descends?

We suggest you take the opportunity to take stock of some of the basics in your ministry, to ensure they're ready for the new year. This month we've provided a series of six easy-to-digest videos and audio files that cover the following key areas:

  1. Discovering the Migrant Mind-set – Have you got significant migrant communities in your area? Listen in on this excellent seminar by multicultural church planter Peter Ko and make sure you're not inadvertedly putting up barriers to the Gospel.
  2. Key Thoughts for Fundraising – Planning on launching a fundraising campaign in 2016? Check out this short video from fundraising guru Rod Irvine on the very basics for speaking to Christian communities.
  3. Evangelistic Pastoral Care – How's the health of your congregation when it comes to personal relationships? Are they good at caring for each other or outsiders? Listen in on this seminar with Sarah Kinstead who trains chaplains for a living, and see how the right sort of care can assist in the spread of the Gospel.
  4. Professional Sounding Music Ministry – How's the musical worship side of your church plant going? Five minutes with Phil Percival from Emu Music and St Ebbes Oxford is all you need to understand the basics for developing a professional sounding music ministry.
  5. Reaching the Non-Aspirational – Church planters have a habit of going where more established denominations and networks fear to tread. If God has called you to minister to 'struggle street' then this is the audio file for you. Steve Timmis from The Crowded House movement reminds us of the different tactics needed to reach and disciple people from difficult socio-economic areas.
  6. Discipleship Re-Growth – Is one of your 2016 goals to mature your congregation and develop disciples make more disciples? Col Marshall from Vinegrowers helps us recap all the key points for Discipleship Re-Growth in this insightful seminar.

We hope you find these a help as you settle into 2016, and we're looking forward to hearing how God blesses your ministry in the months to come!

– Ed.


The 3 things that stop us sharing the gospel

Thermometers around the country are heating up. Summer is coming. People everywhere are thinking about winding down, taking time off and relaxing. As the usual distractions and excuses of life are set aside, what a great chance to bring the good news of Jesus to those who haven't yet latched on to it.

But for most people, evangelism isn't as easy as that. 

Salt Church's Dan Godden joined City Bible Forum's San Chan in our most recent Planter Session to cover what evangelism can look like for summer-soaked Australians. Listen to the entire Session below for wisdom and tips about this important area of church-plant life. 

Among the many gems you'll want to jot down and mull over is Dan's breakdown of the three main blockages he has come up against when it comes to Christians sharing their faith. And then be sure to listen to the entire Planter Session, to soak in more suggestions about encouraging evangelism.

1. Not convicted enough

The first type of blockage takes the shape of a person who is “not convicted that it's true” and they probably think like this: “I come to church and I love the vibe. There are these set of beliefs that I'm supposed to have but, when the rubber hits the road, do I really believe there is a heaven and a hell? Do I really believe Jesus is the only hope for my next door neighbour or the mate at work?”

Dan reckons plenty of churches have people who aren't convinced of the exclusivity of Jesus's claims upon our lives. That's a significant blockage to someone then seeing the need to share Jesus with someone else.

2. Not equipped

The second type of blockage takes the shape of a person who is “convicted about the gospel and I know I should tell my friend about Jesus, but I just don't know how I do that.” They can feel that conversations are stiff and awkward  with friends, or they just don't know what to say when hot-button issues such as same-sex marriage are raised.

To help equip its members, Salt Church run events called 'Coffee and Jesus'. These are aimed at fostering conversations between Christians and those who don't follow Jesus. In a relaxed setting, people can chat about issues with or questions about Christianity. In this setting, wome of the heat of debate is taken away. At the same time, answers also can be provided by more mature Christians, as they also model how to go about doing everyday apologetics.

3. Not connected

The third type of blockage takes the shape of a person who is “convicted” and “equipped”. They would “love to share the gospel of Jesus but just don't know anyone.” 

Dan reckons that can be a cop-out excuse but also sees that “we have set up patterns in our Christian world, where we have broken down opportunities for people to build meaningful relatinoships with people who are not Christians.”

Rather than run a soccer team, or playgroup, or food van, Salt Church wants to get involved with such services or groups that already exist. Dan would like to see more Christians connected with their wider community. He gives the example of a missionary in another country who only spends time with other missionaries. Instead of only preaching to the converted, “you want them to make connections and relationships with the people aorund them”.


Listen below to hear more from Dan and Sam about evangelism in Australia. And be sure to join us every month from February 2016 for more Planter Sessions.

Three convictions that moved me from trainee to trainer

At 21, I decided that I wanted to plant a church to reach the lost. Mind you, I had absolutely no idea how to do it, but I was committed to the idea, and I wanted to figure it out.

The first step was learning how to do evangelism, which I did through a full-time evangelistic role in the l

ocal high school. Importantly, that helped me learn how to share the gospel with a hostile audience. But I still had no idea about the practical realities of how to plant a church.

So, while doing four years of formal theological training, I attached myself to two men who seemed to know how to plant a church. I became their trainee, and learned all I could from them.

I’m very thankful for the invaluable experience I had as a trainee church planter. I learned many important lessons about what to do and what not to do. There were still gaps of course, but not nearly as many as there were before.

Now my own church plant has started (Grace City Church) and, as you’d expect, that makes my life pretty busy. But, in the midst of that busyness, I have committed to spending significant time training other younger guys who also want to learn about church planting.

These are the three key convictions that moved me from being a trainee to a trainer:

(1) The scale of the problem

There are around 24 million people in Australia. If the statistics are correct in suggesting that only 2-3% of Australians are Bible-believing Christians, and if heaven and hell are real, then 23 million people desperately need Jesus.

23 million. And my plan is to plant just one church?

(2) The limited impact of one person

What was I thinking? Either my church will need to be a huge church (i.e. of a scale never before seen in this country), or we need lots of new churches.

But the problem is I am only capable of starting one church—or perhaps two at a stretch. Seeing that as an adequate response when millions are facing judgement without Christ just doesn’t sit right with me.

(3) My responsibility to multiply

Given the scale of the problem, and the accumulation of knowledge and experience that I have gained over the last eight years or so, I figure that my responsibility is to do more than just plant a church or two. I need to devote myself to sharing what I have learned and multiplying the number of others who will work hard to see the lost won to Christ.

So I committed to being a trainer.

I now have an MTS apprentice who works with me in our church. He wants to be a church planter too, and he is learning on the job with me. I meet with him every week and we talk through not just his own ministry responsibilities (including fundraising), but also strategically what we are doing as a church to reach our community and see people come to know Jesus. I also meet with him and a few other trainees from other local churches once a fortnight for training.

Apprenticeships are an outstanding way to multiply workers for the harvest. But apprentices need trainers. There is good help available to those who see the need and want to be trainers (Australia-focused, but the resources are useful world-wide). So why not join me in the goal of equipping more and more people to reach the lost?

Tim Clemens is the lead pastor of Grace City Church. He planted Grace City in January of 2015 and is passionate about evangelism and training. Tim graduated from Moore College in 2014. Before attending Moore College, he worked as an evangelist at a public high school in St Ives. During this time, he also wrote an SRE curriculum which has since been published by Christian Education Publishing as The Jesus Foundation Series. Tim is married to Emma and lives in Zetland.

This article was originally published on, an online library where gospel-minded Christians can find resources, ideas and encouragement for fulfilling Christ’s commission to make disciples of all peoples. The article is re-produced here with the permission of Matthias Media and the author.


Hot tips for summer evangelism

Hi there. Thanks for joining us for more helpful tips for effective evangelism.

Our final Planter Session for 2015 was devoted to Evangelism for the Summer-Soaked Australian. City Bible Forum evangelist Sam Chan and Salt Church Wollongong's pastor Dan Godden spoke with Scott Sanders about how to bring the good news to Australia during the Christmas holidays.

We had so many questions being sent through for Sam and Dan that we ran out of time to answer them all. So, below are Sam's answers to four of those questions. They cover a wide range of topics yet are united by the critical concern of how best to share Jesus with those around us (whoever they might be).

Chris – I am keen to hear more about HOW you help people make the 'lifestyle change’ to embracing evangelism (during summer, and beyond)?

SAM: Check out my other seminar on “How to tell your friends about Jesus” (as well as Sam's extra Q&A session

It's not so much about a method, or even running extra events. But a lifestyle change. 
For example: 

1. Merge our universes. Typically we have two separate universes – a 'Christian friends' universe and an 'other friends' universe. We need to merge our universes by getting our Christian friends to hang out with our other friends and vice versa. That way our friends will end up in a community where a significant proportion of their friends believe in the Jesus-story. That way the Jesus-story won't just be true but also more believable. But this takes at least 1-2 years. Like I said, it's a lifestyle change.

2. We need to go to our friends' events. That is, we need to be hanging out with them on a regular basis. That way when we invite them to a Christian event, it won't be so weird because it will be one of many things that we naturally do together.

3. Work on a coffee-dinner-Gospel sequence. Invest time in inviting our friends for coffee. And then invest time in inviting them for a meal. And then gradually our friends will feel more comfortable talking about 'worldviews'. This is because we are gradually moving from 'public' space to 'private' space. And our conversation topics will gradually move from 'interests' to 'values' and, finally, to 'worldview' topics.

4. Our church itself needs to have a 'lifestyle' change. It's no longer just a 'sacred' space for Christians to gather to be edified. It's also a 'secular' space where our other friends can come and hear the Jesus-story. That is, our churches also need to 'merge their universes'.


Tabitha – What recommendations do you have for evangelism to Muslims during the Australian summer? 

SAM: Wow, muslims can be from anywhere, ranging from Asia to Africa! OK, here are some general tips…

1. Typically, Muslims prefer storytelling. Check out Christine Dillon's book “Storytelling the Gospel” and her website for some tips.

2. They might resonate more with the idea that we are 'unclean' and that Jesus can make us 'clean'. Or that Jesus gives us 'peace' and 'shalom'. 


Norm – What have you found to be effective when it comes to engaging tradie and blue collar workers in gospel issues?

SAM: We keep using the wrong tool! We make tradies and blue collar workers sit down in rows of chairs while we lecture them. Tradies and blue collar workers like to be involved in a project together. Doing stuff together. Men typically don't like to look at each other – they like to work side-by-side on a project.

So, we can either put stuff on where we can hang out for (1) fun stuff or (2) purposeful stuff.

For example: Put on a day where our church services the cars of some needy people in the community. Or a day where we just do fun stuff for the sake of fun, such as charter a boat and go fishing, and then hang out afterwards for a BBQ where we cook the fish.

It's in the hanging out that meaningful conversations will gradually happen.


Dan – Any tips for communicating gospel truths to Grade 3-6's in the course of summer activities/events?

SAM: Kids learn through fun, games, quizzes, competitions and stories.


Click here to access all the previous Planter Sessions, to learn more about a huge variety of church-planting topics. 

The Planter Sessions will return in 2016. Get excited.


– Ed.

Are you ready for Christmas? The basic checklist…

Greetings all,

Earlier this year Christian technologist Steve Kryger conducted a survey of 100 Australian churches and asked a very simple question:


What are the times of your Christmas church services?



It's a telling question, one that is more than likely to come from Australians attempting to connect with your church this summer. The email addresses were taken from church web sites, 58% of which were not displaying Christmas service times. The response to Steve's inquiry was staggering in its level of disappointment:

  • 4% – Email bounced
  • 39% – Did not reply
  • 57% – Replied

Take stock of that for a moment. Just over 4/10 Australian churches polled did not respond to a simple cold inquiry. From amongst those who replied Steve discovered that 14% did not actually hold Christmas day services, several had closed their offices altogether during this period, and some because the ministry team members had chosen this time to go on holidays. Steve also discovered that there was a disturbingly high correlation between those churches that didn't put service times up on their website and those that didn't reply at all. In short, both seem to be an indicator of the heart of that particular ministry for the lost surrounding them.

This isn’t a surprise – I would expect that churches that haven’t served visitors to their website are also less likely to serve people who get in touch via other channels.

This may sound harsh, but I believe that responsiveness relates more to convictions than technological abilities. Let me explain.

If you are convicted that most people will visit your church website before ever setting foot in your church, you will make it a priority to serve these potential visitors with the information they require.

If you are convicted that serving potential visitors to your church is important and God-glorifying, you will adopt the necessary practices and invest in the skills and platforms to serve these people well.

If you are convicted that you are an ambassador of Christ, you will adopt high standards in your communication. As Paul Tripp puts it:

“We have high standards because we know who we’re representing.”

You can read more of Steve's findings in his article What Happened When I emailed 100 Australian Churches. But in the meantime, what's the practical upshot for churches wishing to connect with unchurched and dechurched Australians this Christmas?

  1. Don't go on holidays or limit office hours
  2. Run a seeker-sensitive Christmas service
  3. Ensure the details are displayed clearly on your web site
  4. Make sure there is a clear email link for people who want to find out more

All part of the call to witness to summer-soaked Australians!

– Ed.

Thankfulness is only the beginning

Greetings all,

This month we're pausing to take stock of the great things God has done for the Geneva Network. Now, we could bang on about numbers – couples assessed, churches planted, the unchurched attending etc. etc. – and that wouldn't be wrong. It's very humbling to see the ground God has graciously opened up through your Geneva Push Network. But there's another way of being thankful we think is a little more inspiring. 

We'd like to thank God together as a Network for the people God has raised up. 

In the end it is God who will decide upon the level of success that any venture to spread the Gospel enjoys. As Proverbs 19:21 reminds us,

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

And again in Psalm 3:8,

“Salvation belongs to the Lord; Your blessing be upon Your people!”

What we can do as followers of Jesus is put our time and talents at His service, and pray that He will bless the harvest. And this month we'd like to draw your attention several couples around the country – representatives of a much larger network! – who are doing just that:

  • Give thanks with us for Ben and Kate Murphy who are in the early stages of their Wilson plant in Western Australia. Ben and Kate share all of the things they have to be thankful for in our latest webinar and what you can be praying for in 2016.
  • Join us as we give thanks for Tim and Emma Clemens from Green Square in Sydney, New South Wales. Green Square is set to become the most densely populated suburb in Australia with massive growth in high-rise housing over the next three years – and Tim and his wife Emma are thanking God for the inroads they've already been able to make with Grace City Church.
  • In our latest Planter Session webinar Luke and Kim Williams from Officer in Victoria provide plenty of reasons to give thanks. The Williams are engaged in a fresh church plant that has been doing everything it can to draw peoples' eyes to God – like an epic balloon launch to capture the hearts of its community.
  • Meet Paul and Margie Sheely from Albury on the NSW-VIC border – pushing frontiers of a different sort! Paul and Margie have planted in the last twelve months and they're busy using the TAFE as a base of operations for spreading the Gospel in the region. Tune in to hear all the things they have to thank God for!
  • Join us as we jet around the country in our latest Planter Session webinar and meet Jai and Jay-Ellen from Mackay, Queensland. Jai and Jay-Ellen are in the fifth year of planting MAKE Church in the tropical north and have lots to thank God for as they make their home in a community considered too hard for many main-stream denominations.
  • Been to Tassie lately? Let us take you there to meet Dan and Georgia Headley from Snug. Dan and Georgia have broken ground this year and planted a church in a small coastal town 30 kilometres south of Hobart. They share everything they have to be thankful to God for and the challenges ahead for 2016.

And if you're thankful, like we are, that God is doing great things through the lives of these and many other faithful servants in the Geneva Network, then maybe you'll consider giving to the work so that we can ensure more can go spread the Gospel in this very thirsty country.

While you're giving thanks and praying over the need, you might also benefit from listening to our latest series from Sam Chan. Sam has also been flying around the country, delivering a series of talks on Evangelism In A Sceptical World that include the following key titles:


Thankfulness is of course only the beginning; we have a very open field in front of us in Australia and the workers are few. Pray that the Lord of the harvest sends out more workers, prepare yourself to serve to the best of your ability – and give us much more to be thankful about in the future!

– Ed.