When you look at an apple, what do you see? Something red? Something round? Something to keep the doctor away? Well, when Jamie Freeman, the Baptist Associations’s Gen1K Mission Team Leader, looks at an apple, he sees an orchard. “Within every apple is the potential for not just another tree, but an entire orchard,” he explains. “It’s the same with churches. Inside every church is the opportunity for many churches.”
New Vine Church is an example of this type of church. Pastors Paul Whiting and Andrew Cole had a deep sense that Australia needed more localised and relevant expressions of Christianity, and wanted to plant a church in the western suburbs of Newcastle. As a result, New Vine started in 1995. But Paul and Andrew’s unified sense of call was to plant a church from which to pioneer other churches and ministries. So in 2004, New Vine’s first daughter church, H2O Baptist, was birthed.
In 2008, New Vine Lakes Church was planted, then in 2014, New Vine Vineyards Church opened. New Vine Church has since gone on to launch their own new expressions of church, with ‘New Vine Beaches’, a weekly Sunday afternoon service, starting in 2018, and ‘Vintage New Vine’ – a fortnightly midweek congregation for retirees – beginning in January 2019. Now, two of their church plants are even getting close to their own church planting endeavours.
In his blog post on Crossover, titled ‘Pioneering Imperative’, Andrew Cole wrote: “We take our central beliefs about the nature of the church, and our imperative to make disciples, and come up with a pioneering plan, releasing people to think freshly about church and how it can be…God made us after His image and put in us the ability to create new stuff! Church planting gets on the right side of these traits…Our aspiration to reach into new geographic areas and new groups of people stirs our hearts and keeps us moving forward.”
As the population increases, with new housing developments popping up all the time, this idea of church-planting excites Jamie Freeman, who says “new churches are the fruit of healthy churches.” In Ephesians chapter 2, Paul describes the church as something that grows. “All living things are designed to reproduce,” Jamie explains, “And the church throughout scripture is described as a living organism.” Think about it: How did the Apostle Paul help the cities of Corinth, Thessalonica, and Ephesus? He planted churches there!
And it’s not just New Vine that has taken this attitude on board. Jamie has been encouraged to see this vision of multiplication take root more and more over the years in his role. “Initially there were more lone rangers interested in church planting, but now we’re seeing more churches approach us about getting involved – which is really exciting, because it means we’re seeing a broader ownership of the Gen1K vision.”
The Association’s goal of 1000 healthy churches by 2050 means we need to see many new churches birthed, and each of our existing churches linked to a church planting project (directly or indirectly). This year we are working with Transform Southern Sydney to launch a new Resource Church in Marrickville as part of a strategic approach to multiplication in the region. If you’re interested in seeing the Inner West transformed, embarking on a church-planting journey, being trained to start fresh expressions of church in the future, or even joining in prayer or financially, head to gen1kmission.org.au/contact and leave a message for more info about the Marrickville church plant.