Liz* was struggling with her faith. She was trying to find a church but felt that traditional churches couldn’t listen to her or engage with her struggles. Paul and Janet Whiting, part of Lismore Baptist Church, started to meet with her on Tuesday nights, discussing faith and unpacking Liz’s questions and struggles.

“I enjoy journeying with people, watching the Holy Spirit work in them, and allowing them to come to their own answers,” reflects Paul.

Soon Liz had invited some friends, bringing their group up to eleven. The group was made up of people genuinely interested in growing, understanding and owning their faith and grew into a small house-church.

Paul, part-time Children’s Pastor at Lismore Baptist, was aware that this faith community he was leading needed to be outward-focused, even as a small house-church. They started to see their small church as the seed for a missional church plant in Lennox Head.

Paul believes the cultural of many of the local churches could be a block to some inquirers, “this is where were hoping to be different. We want to have a place where people can come and check out Jesus for themselves without having any pressure on them.”

So, rather than having church in a home where no one could find them, they launched Explore Community Church. They decided to gather in a public place, began covering topical issues and started advertising through social media. They now meet at Lennox Head Cultural Centre and are intentionally experimenting with breaking the format of traditional churches.

Explore Community Church has set their values as being biblically grounded, missionally focused, and culturally inviting. Biblically grounded and missionally focused have been easy enough to explain and understand, but Paul has found himself having to expand on what it means for their church to be culturally inviting.

“Culturally inviting is the idea of presenting the good news about Jesus in such a way that its attractive to the listener,” explains Paul, “it’s not about going out and telling people they need to change their ways. It’s something they go ‘wow, we want to hear more’”.

Alongside the launch of their church plant, Paul has also started a mid-week gathering called Equip. Aware that they had moved their “church gathering” from Tuesday nights to Sundays, Equip gatherings happen mid-week to equip the team in intentional mission.

“Our job is to connect people with God,” explains Paul, “our study of the bible helps it to better understand God. Equip helps us to understand people.”

Equip is a mixture of philosophy and missional studies, and is designed to help the team to better understand the people they want to reach. They’ve started by looking through the first three centuries of church history. The team is made up mostly of mature Christians, all of whom are learning something new and saying things to Paul like, “wow, why haven’t I heard this before,” “this is so useful,” and “I didn’t realise there was so much external stuff that validates Christianity”.

Paul values Equip as a core part of what they’re doing. He wants the team to be equipped and resourced for their ministry in Lennox Head. “We want this to be a work of joy” reflects Paul.


Please pray for Explore Community Church and all the other new church plants in our movement.


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