For the last eighteen years I’ve been chipping away at fuelling church planting movements here in Australia and elsewhere. Every now and again you get a glimpse of what God could do if we took this challenge seriously.
Last week in Sheffield, Tasmania was one such glimpse. Maybe more.
Since the US national church planting conference in April the vision to see the next1000 Aussie churches has been percolating away. Together with Tim O’Neill, Steve Hall and Wayne Krause we sent out an email asking, “We have a vision for the next1000 churches. Who wants in?”
At short notice around 30 people turned up to Sheffield in Tasmania. (Can anything good come out of Tasmania?). We shared our stories, our vision of what an Australian church planting movement could look like. We threw ourselves headlong into prayer and worship. We got out the whiteboard, the butcher paper (Australian for big sheets of paper), the Post-it notes and pens and did some serious thinking and planning. There was a strong sense that we were being drawn into something greater than ourselves. This is something God has determined he will do and he has invited us in.
Nehemiah rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem became a model for us. Each family took responsibility to build their section of the wall but when the trumpet sounded everyone rushed to where the need was greatest. In the same way each of us went away with our own spheres of influence and responsibility while at the same time working as part of a wider national movement.
Tim O’Neill invited “Scotty” to come in and share his story. Scotty was the first person to come to Christ when Tim and Sharon planted New Directions in Launceston. Tasmania. Scotty came out of the drug scene and it was some years before he was free of his addiction. His presence was prophetic, reminding us of the difference Christ can make to ordinary Australians as we plant the next1000 churches. His parting words to us were also prophetic— “Don’t just sit around talkin’. Go and do something!”
I’m still trying to make sense of it all, or at least those parts that require work right now. Stay tuned as the story unfolds. . .