Director of The Geneva Push, Al Stewart, says people who ask ‘Why do we need to plant churches?’ are asking the wrong question.

“When you think about it, every church in this country is the result of a church plant. We often forget that because some of them were done with stone.”

“The question we really have to answer,” Al says, “is why did we stop?”

Speaking on the closing day of the In The Chute conference in Melbourne, he told an audience of more than 50 church planters and supporters that Australians needed to recapture a church planting mentality that has been lost in the last few decades.

“We need to revitalise our existing churches and plant new ones – and we will need to do this in every generation,” he says.

Click here to listen to Al Stewart’s address.

Andrew Heard, the senior pastor of EV church on New South Wales’ Central Coast, and a Geneva Push director, believes Christians have come to expect too little when it comes to church growth.

“The average size church in the country is about 50. Many people just grow up thinking we are living in the days of small things,” he explained to prospective church planters.

“We have a small vision and a small expectation. We have developed an attitude of heroic pessimism. We’ve developed a strength that keeps us going, but we keep going by not expecting much.”

Daunted by goals like seeing 10% of Australians in Bible-believing churches, Andrew says many ministers have given away planning for growth altogether.

“You take few risks, you set low goals, you ensure that not much is expected so that no-one will ever be disappointed,” he says.

“But if you feel 10% is too big, what target have you set? You’ve got to aim somewhere. I believe God’s purposes for our country are far from complete.”

Click here to listen to Andrew Heard’s address.

Guest speaker Andrew Reid, an Old Testament lecturer, church planter and pastor of Holy Trinity Doncaster, says ministers have lost their fear of God.

“Many of us have spent so long as Christians, we have lost our fear of God. He is our friend, our mate,” he told attendees while unpacking the book of Jonah.

“But there is a God to whom we are responsible. The Ninevites heard this and said, ‘We’ve had it!’”

Andrew Reid pointed to the king’s desperate ‘Who knows?’ as he wondered if God would show mercy and said that the world was still wondering when it came to spiritual questions.

“As Christians we don’t cry out into the darkness and say ‘Who knows?’ like the king of Nineveh.

“March into the world and plant churches, but plant them on your knees, knowing there is a gracious God who will help you in your time of need.”

Click here to listen to Andrew Reid second session from the book of Jonah.