The planting of new churches has had prominence at various times in our denominational history, with significant results. However, by 2005, new church starts seemed to be fairly thin on the ground, and among those that had begun there was a high mortality rate.
Where have we come from?
In response to this, in April 2008 a group of key denominational and congregational leaders from our movement gathered together to prayerfully dream about what a new focus on church planting within our movement might look like. A fresh energy for planting emerged and has been further cultivated over the last few years.
Where we are at?
As of mid-2011, throughout NSW/ACT there are about 30 church plants either in the early stages of life or solidly on the drawing board. We are also beginning to see networks of Baptist churches emerge in various regions to champion mission throughout their region, including church planting. Our Hunter churches with their H100 vision (100 healthy churches, including church planting and the revitalisation of existing churches) lead the way, but there are other networks at various stages of development in other regional areas (e.g. Illawarra, Riverina) and in metropolitan Sydney (Western Sydney, South-West Sydney).
Where we are going?
The decision at our May 2011 Assembly to commit to a major vision for the future of church planting among NSW/ACT Baptists has emerged out of the ongoing revisioning process undertaken over the last couple of years. A key question in this process has been: If we gave ourselves a courageous vision for church multiplication in our denomination, what could it look like under God in a generation?
Gen1K: 1000 healthy churches in a generation
Currently there are around 340 Baptist churches in our movement in NSW & ACT. The Gen1K vision anticipates the planting of sufficient new churches such that by 2050 our movement comprises 1000 healthy churches. We anticipate that some of the distinctive characteristics of this vision will be:
- Diversity in the types of churches that are planted.
- Missional, not just church renewal planting – genuinely penetrating new ‘tribes’ and ‘subcultures’ in our community.
- Exponential, decentralised growth. True church planting movements don’t emerge from a ‘top-down’ policy decision to start new churches. They gain momentum from the grassroots, fanned by the power of the Holy Spirit.
- A focus on leadership development. Planting many churches will mean developing and releasing many more mission-focused leaders than is currently happening.
We acknowledge that this is beyond our human capacity and for this to become reality God will have chosen to pour out his blessing.
A more detailed article on the Gen1K vision, including exciting stories of some of our current plants, is available. It’s entitled ‘Gen1K Unwrapped’. You can obtain a copy through your church or by emailing Carolyn Altman at email@example.com. You are invited to get excited and get involved with what God is doing through Gen1K!