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Church planting cartoon. Photo by Phil Day.
Cartoon: Phil Day

Flow to grow

They say memory may not be housed just in our brains. I remember that some of my training talked about “anchoring”, that a memory, idea, thought, theme or plan, can be physically anchored in another part of our bodies—just as a noise, song or smell takes us back to a memory of life, so also one of these may be anchored physiologically.

This is the idea I think I have in my bones, in a way I cannot shake off: Healthy Christian communities are vital for a full life. Healthy communities which gather to remember the story of God at work and receive the life of God through hearing the story, through baptism and eucharist, become places of liveliness, of restoration, of hospitality and of hope. This idea is so much a part of me it has become a belief! It doesn’t matter how they gather or work, or their geography or what the liturgy is, or how many are there, or how frequently, or if the gathering is in virtual space—being together, encountering the story of God at work, this is life giving birth to life.

Our communities are doing this in many ways: partnering with overseas churches through UnitingWorld, expressing solidarity with asylum seekers in practical ways, investing in the lives of children and young people, being places of refuge and sanctuary from the vicissitudes of life, and engaging with other community-based organisations to give people who believe they don’t matter a voice.

It will always have transitional aspects to it. I remember talking with one minister who was expressing some of the challenges of leadership in a growing congregation. I said, “Mate, it’s like you’re turning a DC-3 into a 747 while you’re still flying in the air!”

Healthy Christian communities can’t be stagnant ponds; they must have “flow”. You might even say they have to replicate themselves.

The members of the last Synod in Session expressed a desire to see “church planting”—establishing new Christian communities, whatever we call it—as a priority in our life. I believe it begins first and foremost with us believing we are receivers and givers, that we have been blessed to be a blessing and that we live in the midst of the greatest transaction of life.

How are your transactions going? What about the life of your significant community? How is it in the flow of God’s purposes?

Rev David Baker
Moderator, Queensland Synod

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