In the history of the church and revivals, united prayer has been a focal point. That’s what we want to happen in our churches and in our generation.
When we first arrived at Bacchus Marsh Baptist Church in 2010, a long-time church member commented, “We are like a horse without a rider – we need some direction!”
People were zealous for God and the gospel but the challenge was in finding ways to reach the community outside the four walls of our church.
We prayed for God to provide resources and direction to reach the people in our community. A lot of change and growth has happened since. Mostly the changes are small and quiet, like the Kingdom. A seed is sown, you don’t see it growing, then something sprouts.
God brought the right people to help expand our church’s Silver Lining Op Shop to four days a week. We started gaining a reputation in town for fair prices and friendliness. Even our non-church volunteers shared our vision: to care for people, meet their needs and provide good customer service. These volunteers became comfortable with faith and even asked us to pray for them occasionally!
In 2015, God gave some of our people the idea to establish a community garden. With great efforts from a core group and the support of a council grant, the garden grew and is now complete with a home-built pizza oven. The BUV and BaptCare also helped with grants to develop our courtyard and build a playground.
This beautiful community area helps us connect with people from all walks of life, especially with those whose lifestyle and culture are different from most of us. Like the church in Acts when the Gentiles arrived, there were challenges and things to learn and understand from one another. We embarked on a journey of learning and our church started to change.
Our average 40-person Sunday congregation didn’t get bigger, but it was different. We celebrated newcomers who made commitments to Christ, and from September 2018 to March 2019 we baptised five people, four from non-church backgrounds!
A year ago, with the help of the BUV, we reviewed our church’s health and capacity and realised that we needed to “grow young”. Our committed members were mostly in the 50+ age group. Just when the review concluded, a pastor named Scott James left his previous role, convinced God had something for him in Bacchus Marsh.
“As a family we felt we were slowly being led here,” Scott said. He is now our associate pastor. With a young family and a heart for community, he fills a welfare role with some junior football teams. In addition, our fragmented teens group is rallying under his leadership.
“I am really enjoying serving within the local community God has placed us in,” Scott says.
In October, we held an event at our community garden. We offered free pizzas, hired a jumping castle, served scones and more than 50 people from our local community turned up.
Last month, we cancelled a Sunday service to participate at the annual Bacchus Marsh Strawberries and Cherries Weekend Festival. We ran a church stall and gave away free plants and cookies. Over 50% of our church members participated to be together amongst the community!
We sense the Spirit moving and we are convinced in the role of prayer in sowing seeds for the Kingdom. We wait for what else God will do in our community and our next generation.
Jeremy Van Langenberg
Pastor, Bacchus Marsh Baptist Church