Building a fire: growing a group of people who ‘get it’. (Part One)

Next week is The Geneva Push National Conference in Melbourne. Both Renae and I are really looking forward to it. We’ve made some good friends through the Geneva network and it’ll be a great time to catch up with some of them. It will also be a good time listening to God’s word in Acts as Mikey Lynch preaches along with some helpful workshops and seminars on matters pertaining to planting.

One of the things I’m involved in next week is a panel on growing a “core group”. I put together a paper for the conference that talks about some of the things we did and some of things we wouldn’t do again. I thought it might be helpful to share some of it here piece by piece.

Plus I’ve always wanted to be cool and do a ‘blog series’ so this is my chance!


Building a Fire: Growing a group of people who ‘get it’

In 2008 we first started thinking about the possibility of starting a new church in Wollongong.

We began the whole process by getting together a group of people who really got why we wanted to do this and who were willing to give their lives to seeing a flood of disciples across the Illawarra. We wanted a group of people who ‘got it’.

This has happened in four stages. It has seemed to me a lot like how you would build a fire.

We started with tinder, key people who caught the spark of what it was we wanted to do.

Adding kindling meant finding any person who breathed in Wollongong who would meet us.

Then putting on logs meant laying down foundations with those who we had gathered over the year leading up to our launch.

Finally, burn… Launch. Something we haven’t seen yet, but are praying that under God he would cause our church to be a place that burns with a passion to see real, mission-hearted, gospel-gripped, bible-driven disciples right across the Illawarra, Australia and the world…



Dripline churches versus Sprinkler churches

I haven’t blogged in ages. I’m hoping to remedy some of that over the next few months as we wrap up at EV and head down to Wollongong to start church up there.

I have stuck my head up this morning just to say you need to listen to this!

It’s from a conference on evangelism in Canberra that The Geneva Push put together. The first 30 seconds from this talk are really helpful in shaping the way you see church, particularly in terms of church planting.

the rest is good too.

Andy and Keris

Andy and Keris are great friends. More than that, they are a great encouragement as worshippers of God.
We are excited to have them join us next year as we move to Wollongong.
Watch Andy’s interview on what it meant for he and Keris to join a Church Plant core team.

In particular listen to his answer at 4:50 to the question ‘What would you say to someone who was considering jumping in with a new church?’

preaching off a kindle

I got a kindle e-book reader for my birthday back in June and I’ve been pretty stoked with it. I’m now finding that I’d rather read a book on my kindle than in the regular paper format. It’s better for underlining and taking notes and it feels great in your hand.

But on Sunday night I used my kindle for a whole new function. I put all my sermon notes on my kindle as a pdf and used it rather than paper as I was preaching.

I usually write full text notes for sermons and I did that again on the kindle.

I left good spaces and made sure I got the font to the size I wanted. Overall it seemed to work really well. I imagine its going to be great for times when there is no pulpit and you need to hold all your stuff in one hand.
Its hard to see why I’ll ever go back.

I got the idea from Nathan Bingham. You can check out all his kindle ideas here.

pray for wollongong

If you haven’t been watching the news the last two-three weeks, Bluescope Steel, the 3rd largest employer in the region has announced the sacking of 1100 employees with more cuts due to come.
This is a similar move in a similar region to BHP’s closing in Newcastle back in 1999.

There is lots of pain for those affected. Lots of unknowns for the region.
Julia Gillard is in Wollongong today surveying the damage and announcing some stuff for the future.

Be praying that those who have lost jobs will find relief so they can support their families.
Be praying that the gospel would go out in the Gong and that many would find real hope.

vision for the city

you don’t have to live in a city to do ministry.
That’s not what this post is about. Rather its about a few churches that we’ve come into contact with these last two weeks who have been passionate about church planting, in their own city.

It was great to spend some time with Jeff Vanderstelt yesterday talking about Soma Communities and its vision for Tacoma and the wider Seattle area. Something resonated for me with the time we had spent with Bob Cargo at Perimeter church in Atlanta, Mark Dever in DC, and also what Tim Keller and Redeemer Presbyterian Church has been doing in New York. There is a vision for their whole region.

And a strategy.
Each of these different ministries have a plan for how they are going to go about church planting around their city. Mark Dever told us of his desire to put evangelical pastors in mainline denominational churches in DC, Jeff Vanderstelt spoke of a missional community in every neighborhood, Perimeter are seeking churches all around the perimeter highway of Atlanta. Sometimes even planting right next door to their existing churches because they see the urgent need of their whole region coming to hear the gospel. I think thats important.
To be evangelising by church planting… and by doing it next door because we have a passion for God’s name to be made famous in a certain area, not ours.

a bit about atlanta

I haven’t written much on the blog since the weekend. A bit too much moving around. We are in Seattle now but spent two days earlier in the week in Atlanta.

Atlanta is different.

Mikey rented a car to drive. I navigated. There are six major (7 lanes each way) highways that go through atlanta. I almost died on all of them.

Perimeter Church in Atlanta have been planting churches for a long time. They started doing it 35 years ago and have been continually starting new churches and been involved in new networks of churches ever since. It was pretty cool to see a church that took seriously an vision to reach a whole city by systematic planting of churches. It was also great to chat through with Bob Cargo, the pastor for church planting some of the lessons learned along the way.