Three weeks ago, Stephen Cole started a new role as the sole Pastor at Coffs Harbour Baptist Church, a church of approximately 120 people. His first three weeks have been a time of orientation, examination and exploration of what God has been doing, and prayerful consideration of where God is pointing him and the Church.

Coffs Harbour Baptist Church is in a time of transition. Coffs Harbour is a beautiful coastal town on the north coast of NSW. So, it is no surprise that people have been moving to the area, and with them has come an influx of new people to the Church.

The Lord is doing something big.

Coffs Harbour Baptist has a solid foundation to build off. The congregation’s legacy has a rich heritage of mission and outreach, having established and sustained many vital ministries in the community over the years. Ministries that the Church started many years ago have since taken on a life of their own, and the fruit can be seen in the community today.

The Coffs Harbour Christian Community School is an excellent example of this. Initially started by members of the Church, the school still has many links to the Church, but as a stand-alone, it has a unique ministry context. In addition, the school prides itself in providing affordable education without compromising on facilities.

The high school operates outside of town, where it could expand to offer a range of outdoor programs. Creative enterprises, including farming and outdoor education facilities, are used to subsidise the low fees. By being wise with how they manage money, the school has kept costs down while providing some of the best education in the area.

The Lord is doing something big.

Similarly, Sherwood Cliffs, a ministry to people suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, has been in association with the Coffs Harbour Baptist Church for 28 years. Over these years, they have seen many people (both staff and seekers) grow in faith as God moves into people’s lives to give them a future that they thought wasn’t possible. The centre is unique in its approach to rehabilitation, utilising a discipleship model in its program. In addition, they have found that reading scripture every morning and night plays a role in breaking the chains of addiction.

The Lord is doing something big.

Further, one of the elders works full-time with the Coffs Harbour community running a discipleship program. Through their entrepreneurial abilities, they can self-fund their staff and ministry to the community. Above the shopping centre is a space called the ‘Upper Room’, a discipleship space, healing ministry and deliverance ministry.

With many diverse ministries, Sunday morning church is full of diverse people with powerful testimonies from various backgrounds.

The fruit of consistent community outreach is seen in the Church’s ministry to settled refugees. Coffs Harbour is an agricultural town with a significant population of settled refugees. One of the Church’s elders owned a farm, and when refugees moved to the area, he would house them and give them work. As Stephen understands it, the Chin Baptist Community Church was born.

The Chin Community Church has multiplied over the past few years and has over 200 members. The Church has separated from the English-speaking Church, affirming its constitution and appointing its elders. As such, Stephen gets the pleasure of walking alongside them as they work towards affiliation with the NSW and ACT Baptist Association.

The Lord is doing something big.

Stephen sees his role in this as to knit the ministries together, so they can labour together to reach and save the Coffs Harbour community. Preaching through Corinthians, he is highlighting the beauty of the Church working as one for his congregation. For the same head, that is Christ.

As Stephen finds his place in this story, pray that he and all of the Coffs Harbour Baptist Church members and its associated ministries will find their home in this diverse expression of the body of Christ.


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