Melbourne is Australia’s second largest city but is considered the cultural centre of Australia.
It is event city, with sport, theatre and dining options galore.
Melbourne is also home to some of Australia’s most influential churches including CityLife Church and Planetshakers.
Interestingly, the MCG stadium also house a huge crowd of 130,000 people to hear Billy Graham preach in 1959.
Church growth and church health fascinate me.
I’m always on the look out for church growth strategies that work. I’m interested in proven tactics that get the job done.
I’ve asked five pastors from Melbourne to share with us church health and church growth strategies that work for them in their context.
They pastor different churches from various movements.
However, they have one thing in common.
They pastor in Melbourne.
Despite adding an extra morning service, our demographic was still not reflecting that of the wider community.
With some existing activity among local Cambodians, we intensified our follow up and then started an interpreted morning service for adults who could make use of our existing kids’ program.
Now with dozens of baptisms and a regular adult congregation of seventy, we sponsor our own pastor-missionary and extensive works back in Cambodia.
We also started an Alpha course with immigrant Tamils escaping war-torn Sri Lanka and provided food, accommodation and employment, leading several to Christ and running an interpreted evening service.
With similar outreach groups for Spanish and Afghan people and supportive mid-week community welfare and child care services, we are constantly connecting with hundreds from non-Christian backgrounds.
This is not without its challenges, but has inspired others, too, with a greater willingness and passion to serve what God is doing.
Ps Rob Nyhuis
Life Groups are a primary and basic building block for Syndal Baptist Church.
They are small communities of hope, care and transformation where people connect with others, find a sense of belonging, experience and contribute to growth and life change, have the opportunity to serve others and be equipped to serve, bases that encourage and pray for members to live and serve like Jesus as people of influence in their worlds.
It is a context where the crowd of a weekend can become small, real and nurturing as well as a context where friends who are exploring faith and Church can come as a first or next step.
In these groups leadership is shared and leaders are developed.
Ps Bill Brown
At Stairway Church we have come to see that the church is an “organism” with an “organisation” to keep the organism healthy.
The Lord’s primary objective is to establish communities of faith who live out His spirituality as expressed in the fruit and gifts of the Spirit.
He then inspires the development of an organisation that fosters the flourishing of people’s spirituality.
We have asked questions like:
Are we making disciples of Jesus or disciples of the church?
That is, when a church leader describes what sort of disciples they are making is their language primarily describing a commitment to the organisation or to being like Jesus? (Romans 8:29)
When considering vision, “what we see”, do we develop and build a vision of values or a vision of accomplishment?
A vision of accomplishment based on traditional KPIs creates pressure to build an organisation that, at times, does not foster healthy spirituality in God’s people.
11 months ago I became the Senior Pastor in a 30 year old church and have seen it over double in size to over 500 people every weekend. I give humble thanks to God as He builds His church, but what are the practical keys that He has used?
1. A clear & passionate vision from God.
The pastor must have this burning in their heart and communicate it continually to the church, ensuring everything they do revolves around it.
2. Weekend services that people love attending.
We revamped our worship service so that it was fresh & had a strong sense of the presence of God. People have invited friends and returned most weeks because they want more.
3. Remove blockages that stop growth.
We improved our financial structure, focussed on treating guests really well and improved our kids ministry, creating a place that families loved to be at.
A 2015 survey of 500 Melbourne schools found as many as 1 in 3 children going without breakfast. Teachers report decreases in class performance, kids coming to school lethargic, and a greater propensity for these kids to be sick or absent.
We spoke to teachers in our church about what we could do to help, and this year partnered with our local primary school to provide a Brekky Club. A small team of adults led by our Children’s Pastor serve breakfast two mornings a week, from 8am til 9am, to over 100 kids. Toast, cereal, juice.
It’s early days, but we’re finding kids so keen to come, they’re apparently nagging their parents to get them to school early so they can have breakfast with their friends.
Such a simple thing, but kids are being helped and we’re also building great relationships with teachers and parents.
Ps Rick Paynter