Last weekend, as part of 2020 Vision of the Baptist Churches of Hobart, Grant Morrison from the Hunter District (Newcastle region, NSW) led a training workshop in church planting and evangelism.
Grant is involved with the Baptist churches of the Hunter region and their vision is to grow to 100 healthy churches by 2030. This is not dissimilar to the vision of the Baptist churches of Hobart to grow to 2,000 people, attending 20 communities of faith by the year 2020.
When we think of church planting we often think of buildings, programs, budgets and staff, but these were far from the mind of Jesus and the disciples (except perhaps Judas). The early church met in homes and small groups and there is no historical evidence of church buildings until after 300 AD. So when it comes to church planting as part of our 2020 Vision the concept needs to include a wide variety of churches, some meeting in settings we are familiar with and some meeting in different ways.
An example from the Chinese Church
The training program last weekend was based on Mark 4:26, the parable of the growing seed, and introduced a simple way for believers to meet together in homes with a focus on the important issues of evangelism, discipleship and leadership development.
Coming out of the experience of the church in places like China our training taught how such meetings can be effective in engaging people who are presently far away from God. Christians in China are often forced to meet in their homes due to persecution, yet in this format the church is growing rapidly. The training took what the Chinese have learnt in their situation, adopting and adapting to our situation.
One exciting aspect of our training over the weekend was the way it brought together evangelism, discipleship, church planting and equipping leaders all into one process. More often than not the pattern of churches in Australia is to have a series of programs for evangelism, discipleship etc. but here they are part of the simple process. Each person is discipled, trained and equipped, by being taken on a journey of saying “yes”—yes to listening to the gospel, yes to following Jesus, yes to baptism, yes to becoming church, yes to witnessing to others, and so on.
As part of our 2020 Vision we are praying we will see a new era of church planting emerge where new communities of faith are established across Hobart. Last weekend’s training was another small step in the process with a focus on building desire, capacity and capability of our churches in evangelism and mission.
Will you also pray we will see people in Hoabrt come to know Jesus? Remaining motivated and focussed – these will make the diference to church growth in Hobart, no matter what denomination!