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A strong network strengthens each worker

G'day. How's it going?

Have you had a chance yet to check out the full-length celebration that is our most recent Planter Session? Press play below to spend some quality time savouring the many amazing ways God has been spreading the good news through the Geneva Push network around Australia.

A common thread through the “Around the Grounds” session was the postive impact felt by each church planter, due to being part of a broader Christian network. Many planters enthused about the Refresh retreats, as well as the various other opportunities to meet, share and engage with those across the network.

“I think it's really helpful to have a partnership with people who are outside of your normal network,” explained Paul Sheely from Albury. “For us, that's contact outside the Presbyterian denomination. It is exciting to have contact with people doing all kinds of different things.” 

At their first Multiply conference several years ago, Paul, his wife Margie and their core team were struck by Geneva Push's fostering of diverse approaches to the same goal. “Anything goes, you can actually try anything for Jesus in terms of church planting. There are no fixed rules; just a desire to want to serve him and proclaim his gospel. It's very liberating and to have that support and people praying for us, it's very humbling. We love it.” (To register for next year's Multiply Conference, click here)

 

Every month we host a new Planter Session that covers a different topic of great relevance to church planters. Click here to register for next month's interactive session “Evangelism for the Summer-Soaked Australian”, happening live from 9:30AM on November 5. 

Your first ministry

Greetings all,

This month the Geneva network will be taking a look at the ministries that undergird our church planting ministries – marriages and families.

It's hard to underestimate how important these are as areas for service, opportunities for personal growth and symbols for God reaching out to His fallen world. The family has been referred to as the minister's first congregation – church planter Chris Ekins is fond of saying he's building his church one kid at a time! Experienced pastors will tell you they're also the furnace for purifying all of the virtues we often preach about. In fact marriage is the context in which Paul encourages husbands to take on the true sacrificial character of Christ. And when God calls on Israel and the rest of humanity to repent, he does so in the guise of a husband and a father. It's no wonder the apostle puts a faithful family life at the centre of an overseer's qualifications to serve:

“He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3:4,5)

Yes, it's hard to underestimate how important our marriages and families are as we seek to plant new works for God – but we still manage it…

The need to bring the good news to perishing Australians is so overwhelming that it can overwhelm our commitment to those God has given us to serve and witness to first. We can regularly presume on their patience because, after all, what we're doing is the Lord's work. But, of course, we achieve nothing for the Kingdom if we speak with the tongues of angels and lack the love that characterises the Gospel. 

So this month Geneva Push will be doing it's best to remind us all of the privilege marriages and families represent, and provide us with tools designed to ensure we build relationships that last for eternity:

Faithful marriages

  • Fresh from Refresh15, Scott and Kim Parry-Jones share new ways to strengthen your marriage by taking stock of the friendships you surround yourselves with, the partnership you've entered into and the level of intimacy you enjoy in Cultivating the We and Partners and lovers
  • And they're back! The Parry-Jones' provide radio announcer Dwayne Jeffries with the foundations for Building marriages that last in a throw-away world
  • Andrew and Cathie Heard share how they've managed to balance decades of marriage and ministry as The church planting couple
  • Ray Galea gives some sobering advice in his talk How to avoid committing adultery

Thriving families

There's something here for whatever stage of marriage or family you find yourself – especially if you're looking to prepare yourself for what lies ahead. Start by choosing one thing to help you further your first ministry and see the practical advice God brings to bear on your life. 

 – Ed. 

Ten tips for going to church with your family

Greetings all,

If you haven't seen this already we'd like to thoroughly recommend Christine Jensen's article about creating a family that values – rather than whinges about! – church.

Christian parents know just how difficult it can be to encourage a mindset that values church in little minds that might perceive it as a lot of sitting, singing and being silent. But Christine offers ten helpful points that work towards building a family culture of appreciation. In short:

  1. Go every Sunday
  2. Go with joy and expectation
  3. Arrive on time
  4. Pray as a family before you arrive
  5. Treat church as an extended family gathering
  6. Stay until the end
  7. Speak well of church
  8. Receive the word with thankfulness
  9. Look for new people and people with needs
  10. Thank the minister

Of course these are just the cliff notes. Christine has a lot more valuable detail to offer under each of these headings. So go check out Ten tips for going to church with your family, currently on the Growing Faith website published by Youthworks.

– Ed.

How to help teens own their faith

Howdy. 

As you probably are well aware, nurturing the faith of teenagers is high on the list of tough things to do. When you are a ministry family and those teenagers are your kids, well, the task of nurturing their faith can seem even harder.

Our most recent Planter Session offered advice, real-life mistakes and encouragement to church planters when it comes to nurturing their children in Christianity. Cathy Tucker and her son Luke spoke with Al Stewart about the Perils of Raising Pastor's Kids and Nurturing Their Faith, and that full Planter Session can be watched here. 

Cathy and her husband Craig (who also is Geneva's Head of Coaching) planted churches at Mount Druitt and Drummoyne in Sydney. When Luke and his sister Sophie reached their teen years, Cathy and Craig made conscious choices about who would step back and who would step up.

Stepping up and stepping back

“He persisted in pushing his way into their world and I think the kids appreciated him doing that, even if they gave him nothing to work with,” said Cathy about the decision to have Craig be the primary nurturer of their children's faith.

“I kind of stepped back in terms of nurturning their faith. I prayed for them resolutely but I stepped out of their world, in terms of someone who was consciously gospelling them, and left that to Craig and other people. But I would ring people up and say 'Could you please talk to this kid? Make an effort because they are in a really bad place.'”

This division in roles was difficult for Cathy to do, during years that Luke describes as “emotionally tense” for he and Sophie.

“Really, really hard. But I talked to older women and that's what they [advised],” said Cathy.

She quoted Steve Biddulph and similar secular writers, who suggest it is important for fathers to step up and for mothers to step back during their children's adolescence. To do so can assist fathers with forming stronger emotional bonds with their children. In Cathy and Craig's experience, the benefit to church planting families can be in allowing children to have space to make their own faith decisions while being clear about where to go to when they feel nurturing is required.

For more of Cathy and Luke's insights into the valuable arena of raising pastor's kids, click here.

 

Maybe you have a comment to make or your insights to share about nurturing the faith of pastor's kids. Post them below!

– Ed.

How to make your children a priority

Hi there. Always glad you can take a moment to savour some experience and advice from church planters.

Below is a brief but chewy taste of what was shared during our latest Planter Session, on the subject of nurturing the faith of a pastor's kid. A topic of great importance to any church leader with children. Click here to watch the full Planter Session.

Cathy Tucker is chaplain at Sydney's Presbyterian Ladies College, and has planted churches in Mt Druitt and Drummoyne with her husband Craig. During the Planter Session's frank and engaging conversation, Cathy was joined by her 21-year-old son, Luke. Together, they spoke with Al Stewart about the highs and lows of ministry families.

During the Planter Session, Sharon submitted a question. She wondered what Cathy and Craig had done to allow Luke to make his own decision to follow Jesus? Luke quickly replied, providing two reasons that are the opposite sides of the same coin.

 

GIVE ME SPACE

“The thing I found most helpful was having space to be a complete dingus,” admitted Luke. “To stuff around and make lots of mistakes. I would have found it really hard if every time I put a foot wrong, Mum and Dad were there and wanted to debrief. Have a chat about it and do a spiritual check-in with me.”

Luke revealed that during Year 12, he went through a “significant wobbly patch” with his Christian faith, as well as the way he was living. He believes his parents' ability to let him make his own choices was a huge help. “When I came through it, they had supported me and were there for me. But it was my decision. I didn't feel like they were there, strong-arming me through it.”

 

BE HERE NOW

Having said that, though, Luke also was happy that his parents were on hand to assist him. “When I had problems and I did want support, it was great that they could be there.” But the key factor for Luke was that his dad and mum were available when he chose to reach out to them. 

To navigate these parental waters of providing your children with space, yet being available when they need you, Cathy and Craig were intentional. 

Cathy emphasised that time management is essential for church planters. “If you are managing your time well, when your kid needs you now, you can drop everything and be there for them.” Cathy said Craig made this a priority. They decided Tuesday was a suitable day for Craig to have off, and he was “resolute” in making sure his focus was not divided. “The kids knew that when Dad worked, he worked hard,” said Cathy. “And when he wasn't working, he was completely present.”

“Jesus [is] most important… but a really close second, that's where the kids came. They weren't third, after church.”

Luke affirmed that he knew his parents were intentional about being around and being present. He appreciated that.

 

For more first-hand insights into raising children as a church planter, watch the full Planter Session.

Click here to register for the next Planter Session: 6 Church Plants around Australia – in 60 minutes!

 

– Ed.

How does the Holy Spirit impact Geneva’s assessments?

Howdy. Step right up for another tasty chunk of practical wisdom for church planters.

Our recent Planter Session webinar, “The A-Z of Assessment”, did what it says in the title. Executive director Scott and Geneva assessor Greg chatted at length about the various components of the Geneva Push assessment process.

Click here to access the entire resource and to get up-to-speed with The A-Z of Assessment.

 

What part does the Spirit play?

One of the questions that you guys put to Scott and Greg during the interactive webinar was how does Geneva view the work of the Holy Spirit? When it comes to assessing whether a church planter has what it takes, how does the Holy Spirit inform Geneva's assessment process.

Great question, right? Sure is. Greg was quick to answer it, by contrasting how Scripture reveals the interaction between the Holy Spirit and us.

“In books like 1 Timothy or Titus, Paul tells Titus to go and appoint elders,” said Greg. “It's not that the Spirit is at work apart from human agency and yet, in Acts 20, the Holy Spirit has made these people overseers.

“You're looking at both together. I wouldn't say that when a church puts forward a young planter, that's just a human point of view. Whereas, a guy who stands up and says 'No-one has actually encouraged me to do this but I feel that the Spirit pushing me forward' – I'd be nervous about that.” 

 

The reliability of suitability

Is Greg saying that Geneva Push only accepts church planters who have been raised up through an existing church congregation? No. Instead, he's upholding what he believes to be a trustworthy environment for the Spirit's work and direction to be made clear.

“I think the way the Spirit tends to move people into leadership is through the church that he saves us in to. It doesn't mean that the church is the only one who can affirm someone but it means the church is a really quite reliable way of knowing whether someone is suitable for ministry.”

Greg was quick to point out that a member of his church had not been earmarked for any formal ministry but he went off and got involved in service that eventually led to the planting of a new church. He was excited by what the Spirit revealed on that occasion but maintains, in his experience, that example is in the minority.

“But, by and large, I think you're going to see the Spirit at work through the church, in its leadership, appointing and bringing people on.”

 

And that's just one part of the far-ranging and informative “A-Z of Assessment” webinar.
To view the entire discussion, click here. 

Click here to register for next month's webinar, The Perils of Raising Pastor's Kids.

 

– Ed.

What’s the point of paperwork?

Thanks for joining us for a quick dose of Geneva Push advice for the aspiring church planter.

One of the daunting aspects of planting a church can be the assessment process. While it is a detailed and considerable process of interviews, forms and reflections, we want to help prospective planters get the most out of it. Because the assessment process should be a worthwhile time of forging and establishing a possible ministry that you'll prayerfully ask God to strengthen and bless.

To gather loads of information about our assessment process, click here to watch the recent “The A-Z of Assessment” webinar. This valuable session covered a whole range of topics related to assessments, what you can expect and how you can prepare.

 

But why should you bother?

During The A-Z of Assessment webinar, Geneva Push director Mikey Lynch put plenty of pointed questions to Executive Director Scott Sanders and Greg Lee (a Geneva Push assesser). One was obvious yet : why should a church planter be enthused about filling out paperwork and questionaires?

“Any advice on how to get around to actually filling it out,” asked Mikey. As he acknowledged, there are plenty of “Big Picture” people out there who would think that assessment paperwork should just be filed under “Not Urgent” or “Not Necessary.

Scott suggested dedicating specific blocks of time to filling out chunks of the assessment paperwork, to break up such an important task. Based on what previous applicants had told him, Greg provided two reasons why filling out assessment stuff is actually a help, not a hurdle, to church planting.

 

Clarity and construction

“Whenever you have a big job to do, the thing that helps you get through it is seeing the value of it,” said Greg. “Even though there is a lot of work in [the assessment paperwork], everyone that I have spoken with that has filled it out, they spoke of two really big benefits.

“One was it gave them clarity; being forced to express things on paper gets them out of your head and it helps you to see you are not as thought as out as you thought you were. So, [the assessment paperwork] is not a hurdle to jump over in order to plant; it's actually a really helpful process for planting.

“The other thing was it draws other people in – you're getting your references; you're talking with your wife – this is actually [helping with] building the team that is going to help you to plant. 

“In each of those ways, knowing that it's not a hurdle but a helpful thing, drives you to want to make time. That this isn't getting in the way of planting but is moving you forward as a planter.”

 

Inspired? You're welcome. For much, much, much and, indeed, much more about Geneva's assessment process, click here to watch the “The A-Z of Assessment” webinar.

To register for next month's Planter Session webinar – “The Perils of Raising Pastor's Kids and Nurturing Their Faith” – click here.

 

– Ed.

Keeping church planting in the family

Greetings all,

The biggest challenge facing church planting in Australia today is not establishing new works in places that are yet to see a viable Gospel ministry. The biggest challenge is establishing new works that have it in their DNA to establish new works … and more new works. Oth

erwise the current enthusiasm for church planting will be a phenomena that will be contained to just this generation.

It's all about keeping church planting in the family.

Geneva Push firmly believes that the key to progressing church planting in Australia is to create churches that plant churches. That means that at some stage in their life cycle, church plants will see themselves entering a 'mother-daughter' planting relationship.

The good news is there are a number of key churches in Australia who have walked this path before us, and this month we're borrowing their wisdom in order to help our network think through the implications of mother-daughter planting. 

Here are a selection of great contemporary, Australian resources that will help you prepare yourself, your ministry team and your congregation to give birth to another church:

The Models of Mother-Daughter Planting – Experienced church planter Andrew Heard discusses the various models of mother-daughter church planting, and the tasks and concerns that are common to all. In particular, is the 'Mother' church prepared to bear the pain involved with planting a new work?

Lessons From Mother-Daughter Church Planting – In this month's Planter Session webinar 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. And if you're more inclined to reading than listening, here are summaries of the key points:

The Mitchellton Hub Church – Phil Campbell describes how Michelton Presbyterian developed as a church planting hub in Brisbane. And as a special bonus, Phil talks through how to go about Preparing The Mother Church To Plant.

The Big Q and A – Finishing off Multiply14, Andrew and Heather Reid, and Andrew and Cathie Heard field a wide range of questions on mother-daughter planting with a specific focus on multicultural ministry – with more than a few laughs thrown in as they observe the lighter side of working together.

Our prayer is that listening to the experiences of these pastors of mother churches will help you catch the vision for the legacy your congregation can leave to the next generation of Australians.

– Ed.

Patience, planning and preparing can pay off

Greetings, one and all. Glad you could join us again for more potted wisdom that aims to grow your church-plant ministry. What you're about to read is only one gem from the treasure-trove of experienced advice contained within our most recent Planter Session. If you haven't yet taken in “Lessons from Mother-Daughter Church Planting” with Paul Harrington (Rector, Holy Trinity, Adelaide) and Clayton Fopp (Senior Pastor, Holy Trinity, Mount Barker), click here to check out the entire Planter Session.

During their wide-ranging discussion about what the Trinity network of seven churches and 13 congregation has learned from its mother-daughter planting, Paul reflected on why it took nine years for Holy Trinity to plant its first church. Since that initial daughter was birthed, the growing Trinity network has gone on to plant a new church every two years or so (including the recent great grand-daughter church plant at Victor Harbor).

“We're a church that had never done it before,” said Paul. “We were in a denominational network that didn't exactly encourage it. Both because of the Adelaide context being quite a liberal church context – and we're evangelical – and also because in the 1990s, Anglicans didn't plant in other people's parishes. That was the mindset.” But Paul and his leadership team were committed to what became a burgeoning model of church planting.

 

Persistence for the gospel

For any established churches that are looking to plant a daughter church, Holy Trinity's perseverance and long-term thinking could provide a profound framework. “It took a while to get the congregation on board, in terms of planting,” Paul explained. “To get us to a point where we understood why we were doing it – to reach others with the gospel. To prepare them for the flak that we'd cop. And then to put in the training and thinking behind planting the first time.

“We needed to be patient because it was a big, significant change. Also, I was very aware that if we didn't prepare well – if the first-up plant struggled – we'd find it very hard to back up and do it again.”

 

Power of networking

Patience, planning and preparation proved to pay off for Holy Trinity and its daughters. Clayton leads one of Trinity's daughter churches, and added that the increased size of their family has helped to “speed up” the church-planting process.

“As our network has grown to seven churches, we are able to do more as a network than the churches can do individually. I think that's also contributed to the speeding up of the church planting. The shared vision for planting in the network has helped us increase the pace, in God's kindness.”

 

Church planting DNA

However, increased speed doesn't equal decreased patience, planning or preparation. Instead, these key components are ingrained within the fabric of each Trinity church. “We also were keen to plant churches that plant churches,” explained Paul about what has been consistent within the Trinity network, since its inception.

“We want that to be our DNA. So now we're in a context where we're trying to get all seven churches planting and thinking about how they can do that, on a regular basis. And the grand-daughter church to have the same mindset. That's easier said than done, but that's what we're trying to do.”

 

To view the full “Lessons From Mother-Daughter Church Planting” session, click here.

To register for the next Planter Session – “The A-Z of Assessment” – click here.

 

– Ed.

3 Key Principles For Mother-Daughter Church Planting

Howdy. Thanks for coming back for more of our handy updates and encouragements to assist your church plant.

This month's Planter Session involved two members of Adelaide's Trinity Network of churches, discussing the relationships and processes of Mother-Daughter church plants. Paul Harrington and Clayton Fopp have a collected 35 years of experience with church planting, and their full “Lessons from Mother-Daugher Church Planting” conversation with Al Stewart can be found here.

Paul and Clayton shared a wealth of experience and wisdom about how a mother church can prepare for, send out, and support a daughter church. As Clayton summarised by quoting North American Mission Board member Richard Harris: “Besides God himself, the greatest resource for church planting is the mother church.” 

You'll want to soak in their full Planter Session, covering a wealth of topics from “incubation” periods, to money and accountability. To give you an idea of what's offered by checking out Lessons From Mother-Daughter Church Planting, below are three key principles for

1. Choose The DNA You Want to Transplant

“When the mother church is healthy, the mother-daughter church planting model allows good, healthy DNA to be easily transplanted into the daughter church.” But which DNA? That's what the daughter church needs to consider and answer. Clayton suggested “First Level things”, including Jesus' uniqueness and the centrality of word ministry. But what about the second, third or fourth levels of church composition? Once the daughter church plant that Clayton leads had decided what it wanted to “transplant”, they spent months teaching, training and sharing this selected DNA with committed members of the plant. 

 

2. Choose Everything Else Based Upon Your Mission

Having chosen essential DNA from the mother church, Clayton advises that the next key principle should be to carve out components that are specific to the daughter church and its area. “What is going to connect with the people you are trying to reach with the gospel?” asks Clayton. Thinking through this kind of question invites those in the leadership of the daughter church, to think like a non-Christian. To not merely do things at the daughter church out of tradition or because it worked at the mother church. To assist with this, Clayton had key members of his church plant sent out to “secular churches”, such as pubs, TABs or IKEA. The experience of visiting unfamiliar environments – feeling like a newcomer and outsider – helped the daughter church to better consider how it might break down barriers to the unchurched visitor.

 

3. You Always Plant Twice

Clayton and Paul advocate for the mother church to continue to foster a culture of sending out church planters. While this third key principle has been harder to sustain in the Trinity Network than the first two principles, Clayton and Paul are eager to not limit the impact of church planting to those who are sent to the daughter church. “Planting puts mission and evangelism very much on the agenda for the (mother) church,” says Clayton. That emphasis can be sustained beyond the planting of the daughter church if those in the mother church are inspired to think “what next?” Where will our next daughter church be planted?

 

For the full Planter Session on “Lesons From Mother-Daughter Church Planting”, click here.

Click here to register for our next Planter Session: The A-Z of Assessment.

 

– Ed.