Meet Ty Soupidis (CotH)

Written by Ty Soupidis

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Baptist Churches of NSW & ACT is made up of many different wonderful church/ministry pastors and leaders. In this series (‘Meet the Leader’), we introduce you to some of these people – to encourage you with how God is using men and women across the state, and to help us better connect as a denomination/movement!

Sare, Xavier, Samira, Eli and I (that’s the Soupidis family, by the way) planted Church on the Hill (CotH) in Gloucester in 2013 after God spoke to us through conversations with people around our town. Though it is a small town, Gloucester has 8 different churches who work together quite happily. The “flavour” missing in the Gloucester area was a church community for those who have no understanding of church culture. I left my role as Associate Pastor at the Gloucester Baptist Church, and we began a new adventure.

We felt God was calling us to kick off a community for those people, the church “misfits” or the people we used to glamorously call the “Spiritually Homeless.” We longed to see a place they could talk about Jesus and explore faith without having to know anything about the process. So we opened our home and then other spaces to start a Simple Church Community.

One word which accurately describes our church space is “messy”. For most of our church life, children and youth have been a significant part of our church. Sare and I resonate so strongly with the message Louise Bartlett has been sharing about kids in church. For her, and us, kids are not a ministry of the church, they are the church. They are part of who we are, and have things to give to as well as things to learn. We have tried so many different things to allow kids and youth to shape our community, through having a band of Primary School-aged children (when they began 5 years ago…still on board today!), to having kids give prophetic words to the adults through prayer, and heaps of other fires and misfires. Messy isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and it’s been a work in progress, but so worth it to have a church of all ages. Possibly it has been an easier journey because of our style as a Simple Church.

Until coming on board with the Association of Baptist Churches, we hadn’t even heard of Simple Church. And while it is still hard to define, we found the fit was perfect for us in this network. We were hoping to start a church which avoided formality, and the Simple Church is committed to this process. We have been so blessed by those in the leadership roles at Baptist HQ. From the days when Steve Bartlett was head of church planting and would talk and dream with us, to the encouragement of Jamie Freeman, Pete Davies and many others. We weren’t Baptist people historically, but have loved being with you guys for this journey, and have made lifelong friends here.

The thing I think we all need as leaders is encouragement and inspiration. So many of us feel like we are carrying a heavy load alone. And even though we know God is with us, we really do need family on the road as an outworking of God being with us. Church is always a “together” journey. The Simple Church Network have been a really encouraging mob. And from the first days, the FORM conference has been a major encouragement and inspiration. In my earliest days, I leaned heavily into AJ Cole as a leadership mentor and Ben Thow as a coach. These relationships were the difference between sinking and swimming. Thanks everyone who has believed in us and encouraged what God is calling us to do- it has not been an easy journey for most of the time, but God is in it and some of you have seen that and called it out in us. We are so grateful.

Our ongoing prayer would be twofold. Firstly, that we would keep pushing into the cracks and seeking to love spiritually homeless people and help them seek Jesus. This is why we planted. It is not always “fruitful” labour, so prayers for joy and faithfulness would be really appreciated. Secondly, and almost as importantly, that those who come would move forward and take an active part in the life of the Church on the Hill community. We want to release and encourage leadership for all ages, and again this is not a simple or easy process but it is so worth it.

CotH celebrating their church birthday back in 2016

Thanks for standing with us, and hearing this part of our story. If you’d like to connect up or hear more about our story, find me at ty@churchonthehill.com.au

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