Vision and Church Plans
Vision: Building a church filled with true love and talents
The essence of the gospel is eternal and unchanging, but the method by which it is spread to others need to change according to the changes in the era and culture. We all agree that in different cities or regions, there should be different missionary strategies. Building a church is one of the most efficient and reliable missionary strategies which create the most influence to the local area. But what is the most rapid and effective way to build a church?
Building a church is not equivalent to building a church building
Having our own church building would make things a lot easier and more convenient. However, with Australia's high prices, expensive urban lands, restrictions with the neighbours and parking associated with having a church building, and maintenance fees, it will take up half of the church's resources already. With churches of all sizes, we can see that Australia used to be a country in Christian revival. However, these days we often hear about church buildings being converted into restaurants because it had to cease functioning due to the lack of members. Many Christians lament at this. The church is defined as a group of Christians who gather together for worship, fellowship ministry, discipleship and evangelism. If a church does not have the above functions, then it is just an architectural building. In the past, the Western churches has put too much emphasis on the hardware, but overlooked the importance of updating the software, and that is how we have come to the current scene today.
Convenience Store Type Churches
Australia is sparsely populated, and the Chinese migrants are spread over a wide area, so it is difficult to select a suitable place for gathering. Many people pick a church based on where their peers are as well as the church’s atmosphere and vision. If a church member has to drive for more than one hour back and forth, it means his/her desire to seek the Lord is admirable, but it is very difficult for these church members to spread the gospel to their neighbours or bring new believers to their church, even if they can offer them lifts. However, if we can have set up a gathering place close to where they live, then it is easier to invite these people. If churches can be everywhere like convenience stores, then that makes it easy to get to a church and an effective gospel spreading strategy.
The Bread of Life Christian Church received a vision to plant ten church branches across Sydney, and the "1503" church planting strategy. This vision extended from John 21:11 where the disciples caught 153 big fishes when they followed Jesus' instructions. The strategy is, each time the church co-workers number reaches 150 people and there are 3 cell group gatherings at a particular location, to send 50 co-workers to rent a community centre or school hall to plant a church at that particular location. This way, the new church will already have 50 co-workers to begin with, so it has a basic infrastructure. Sending a group of Christian warriors to take a land is a lot easier than sending a pastor couple and starting everything from scratch. By co-workers, we are not referring to the typical "consumer" church members, but the "production" type of church member who are serving in church ministry. Before the commissioning ceremony, those who are staying and those who are being commissioned have already been trained to work as independent groups, and had practical trial runs. This lightens the load of ministry and increases the success rate of church planting.
Church planting as a team
"One giving birth to one, two giving birth to one, three giving birth to…" The "1503" rapid church planting strategy employs the idea of teamwork and resource sharing. The church is no longer fighting alone. Relationships do not fade after church planting, or only to assist when the planted branch encounters difficulties. Whenever a branch experiences difficulties, the whole 1503 network face it together. We will also be building all the planned branches together. Another words, when A branch has 130 co-workers, B branch has 120 c-workers, then they can form a new team of 50 people to plant another branch. This way, the speed of church planting will accelerate as we plant more churches.
Thank God! In March 2012, Bread of Life Christian Church in Northern Sydney commissioned 50 co-workers to plant a new church in West Ryde through renting the West Ryde Community Centre as the premise, the Grace Bread of Life Christian Church in Sydney. After two months of trial runs, the number of people attending the Sunday service always remained above 70 people, and the church held its official opening ceremony on 13 May 2012. There were a few co-workers who had to help out in both branches until July, when the two churches officially started functioning independently. We pray that we can train more co-workers before the end of the year, so that both branches grow stably. With the Lord's permission, we expect to see another church planted in 2014, and the completion of all ten branches by 2022. We would like to share this vision with you, and we hope to see churches planted everywhere throughout the land, the spread of the gospel, to welcome Christ's second coming.