In March 2019, Benj and a team of 25 young adults from Narara Valley Baptist planted Greenhouse Church in Long Jetty on the Central Coast. Meeting in the function centre of the Long Jetty Hotel, they celebrated their first birthday in March 2022. Then the next week COVID lockdowns began, which all but shut them down. 

Emerging after COVID was a particularly challenging task for churches without a building. Without an official “place of worship” Greenhouse needed to be creative with how they met, including operating as a house church and meeting in Benj’s backyard. 

Coming out of that season, they began leasing a building up from the main street of town. Instead of branding their building as a “church building” they run it as a neighborhood centre, and open it up to community services, music lessons, art therapy, gamblers anonymous, farmers market, a community garden, a community library, and more! 

And their church has doubled in size in the last year. Going from no baptisms in the first three years of the church plant, they’ve had twenty baptisms in a twelve-month period. And most of those being baptised are adults that have come to faith at Greenhouse. 

“There’s been a little revival among 18-25-year-old,” reflects Benj. “Almost none of them have a church or faith background. But they’ve found themselves here. We’ve got young adults everywhere that are just brand new to faith.” 

Taking advantage of their location, Greenhouse holds their baptisms at the beach. And once they have baptised everyone that was planned to be baptised, they open it up for anyone else who wants to get baptised. And someone always takes them up on their offer. 

One time, Jake, a man in his early 20s, put his hand up. Jake had no faith background but had been coming to church for a few weeks because his friend had invited him. Now Jake brings his younger sister and friends to church. “He’s just so deeply changed in the way of Jesus,” reflects Benj. 

“I’m not an evangelist,” says Benj, “that’s not me. Early on when you plant a church it really looks like you. In all its goodness and lack. But as the church is maturing it’s maturing beyond me. We’ve got a collective and many leaders and you start to see the fruit of that. It’s been awesome.” 

Benj has recently taken on the role of Multiplication Facilitator for the Coast Churches Network and helps facilitate church plants across the Central Coast. Church planting in the region is getting traction, and Benj spends his time coaching church planters connecting those with a passion for church planting with resourcing churches. 

Greenhouse was the first church plant on the Central Coast in many people’s memory. Then, in 2020, Greenhouse partnered with Narara Valley Baptist to plant The Meeting Ground, a “simple church aimed at reaching the spiritual misfits”. 

Other church plants are also happening, including Table Church, planted out of Swansea Baptist using a model of smaller Sunday “table” gatherings, and Bloom Co., with a more contemporary and charismatic model of church. 

Benj continues to lead Greenhouse Church with an eye to church planting. “When we started, we decided that 5% of our budget would go to church planting. Now there’s a pool of money that has built up and the church has been able to be generous. And we’re striving to stay open handed about that. We want to keep open hands before God to be generous and to receive from Him.” 

“I found it really releasing to lead in that way,” reflects Benj, “God always repays what you give away. It’s an act of trust. Gods got this. We’re part of a bigger story.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here