There is no doubt that COVID-19 has caused great disruption to our plans and programs over these past eighteen months. Perhaps, it is possible that we have all been holding out hope that we might return to some sort of ‘normal’.
However, for church planters, normal is not the motivator. Church planters can be likened to pioneers – reaching out into new and unchartered territories to spread the love of Jesus.
Kathryn Jensen, Stephen Tan, Samy Kaldas and Paul and Sharon McIntosh are examples of those willing to allow some missional imagination to propel them forward into new spaces and places for God’s glory and for the sake of the gospel. We are so excited to share with you what some of our church planters have been working on and what motivates them in their pioneering calling.
Paul and Sharon McIntosh:
Hi! We are Paul and Sharon McIntosh, seeking to plant out of Regeneration Church Monash, which is itself a City to City church plant that has just celebrated its 4th anniversary!
Regen was planted by Stephen Tan in partnership with CTC, and we are utilizing their skills and experience to partner again for the new plant, following the CTC Residency program, where part of my week is dedicated to church planting (the other part I, Paul, serve as Associate Pastor).
The first encounter with CTC was the Incubator, weekly local training with others who want to plant or reinvigorate their church. I was impressed with the focus on the gospel, evangelism and heart change, identifying idols of the heart and how Christ sets us free from them. This is the freeing good news we want to bring to our community.
Secondly was the Intensive, two weeks of stirring sessions looking at applying the gospel to our own heart as well as our flock, and the deep relationship with Christ needed to plant well and endure the inevitable hardships ahead. I was amazed by the amount of keen church planters attending from all over Asia Pacific, and how common the challenges were despite the culture differences. There were lessons on vision casting, fund raising and project management too, but the primary focus was on changing hearts and lives with the gospel.
Thirdly has been the Residency training, weekly training for local planters gathering their teams toward launching and then growing the new work. Meetings, conflict management, team selection, it’s all there. It was fantastic to meet, pray and learn with other Melbourne planters, and hear the both the hard lessons and successes from visiting veterans who keenly share their knowledge.
On this journey its been great to have our CTC coach, Brett Mitchell. He has been a terrific foil to bounce ideas off and he is always ready to encourage and a offer a nugget of wisdom.
Praise the Lord! Church planting is fulfilling the great commission and it is wonderful He has provided CTC to assist.
My earliest memory of experiencing the call of God on my life was at the age of 18. Fresh out of secondary school, I’d gone away with a group of friends on a prayer retreat where we spent time listening to God. In prayer, I received a vision from God. It was a picture of me sitting on a swing, being pushed by Jesus while I cried out with childish glee, ‘Higher! Higher!’ Here was Jesus, the Son, propelling me toward the Father, and beyond the swing set were the faces of those who long for this kind of intimate, childlike relationship with God. Powerfully, the Scripture that accompanied this picture was 2 Corinthians 5:18-20…
God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”
I knew that I was called (as are all God’s people) to be a minister of reconciliation, to speak for Christ in calling people into loving relationship – both vertically with God and horizontally with one another. 16 years later, soon-to-be-ordained and with a decade of pastoral ministry ‘under my belt’, I am about to plant a church in the growing and multiethnic outer Northern suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria. This church plant will be a daughter plant of Mill Park Baptist Church where I have been an Associate Pastor (Care and Connect) for over ten years and where I am also Director and Counsellor in our faith-based counselling service, Mill Park Community Care.
My next step as a new church planter, having only recently shared my/our church planting dream with my sending church (with the affirmation of our leadership team), is to form an exploratory team to prayer walk the new housing estate where we intend to plant, to read the Kingdom parables together, and begin to work through the questions of theological vision. I’m thankful for the collaborative spirit and good will across denominations in the area and am excited to see other expressions of God’s Kingdom at work (from social enterprise to missional community). I’m thankful for the gift of a coach to provide insight and reflective space!
If you would like to know more about Church planting and the support we can offer you please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org