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National Pioneer Gathering participants take part in dragon boat racing. Photo: Rob McFarlane

How church pioneers are setting a new course for the future

Karen Bowler from Faith Works Uniting Community in Brisbane (incorporating Eastside Trinity at Norman Park and Coorparoo) reports on the National Pioneer Gathering held at Maroochydore at the end of May.

During the three days at the National Pioneer Gathering, 40 incredibly diverse people from across Australia considered why we should, and how we can, do “church” differently.

The event was fun, thought-provoking, faith-affirming—and most importantly, provided everyone there with hope for the future.

We attended a Pub Choir, competed in dragon boat racing, and engaged in worship, song, shared stories and networking.

Questions were raised about the relevance of church, being part of a community, and what the future of church looks like. I learnt that there are some wonderful Fresh Expressions going on around the country and truly amazing people working in this area.

We shared some of these new expressions including focusing on the elderly (Messy Vintage), space for mums with young children (Playdate Café), Godly Play and art, university students (exploring a spirit-filled community on campus) as well as multi-faith/inter-faith exploration.

We were challenged to look at Luke’s Gospel (Luke 24:13–35) and the Road to Emmaus. In all our travels (especially during change and uncertainty) Jesus will always walk along beside us, though we may not recognise him straight away. This reading also compels us not to lose sight of where we have come from when the travellers return to Jerusalem and inform the other apostles that they have seen Jesus.

Starting something new is never easy, but if you are thinking about a Fresh Expression or being a pioneer in this area—give it a go! This gathering proved that there is plenty of support available, people to share your ups and downs and to offer encouragement and prayer.

This post from Trinity Unplugged (which came across my desk as I was writing this) helps sum up what the National Pioneer Gathering was all about.

“John Fredrick challenged us not to look at what we can get out of church, by being ‘Passive recipients of religious products’, but to look at what we can put into the church, by being ‘Active participants as God’s people’.”

Our church needs these active participants and pioneers more than ever. I hope you will find yourself challenged to make a difference. I certainly was.

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