Geneva Church Planting Summit - an overview of Tuesday

We were in a nice hotel near the airport with salt and pepper squid for lunch and a flatscreen TV in our rooms. That was lovely. I watched a documentary on the making of Human Frailty by Hunters and Collectors on Tuesday night.

There were 25 people from every state and territory except for Northern Territory. These included Dave MacDonald from Crossroads Canberra, Richard Chin (AFES National Director), Peter Kaldor (City Bible Forum), Col Marshall (MTS - but planning to move on next year), Ben Pfahlert (MTS), Archie Poulos (Moore College), Tim Scheuer (Church Army), Ben Underwood (church planter in WA), Pete Barson (Creek Rd Presbyterian Church QLD), Phil Campbell (Michelton Presbyterian Church, QLD), Andrew Downes (Aldinga Baptist Church, SA), Ray Williams (Churches Planting Churches [?], SA), Steve Addison (church planting guru and blogger from Victoria), John Diacos (Scotts Presbyterian Church, VIC), Nigel Gordon (Provdence [?] Church plant, WA), Steve McAlpine (Crowded House, WA), Kanishka Raffel (St Matthews, WA).

After opening with a brief Bible study from Al Stewart, we spent most of Tuesday hearing from people about the state of play around the country. Interspersed with prayer and coffee. Some highglights:

  • Steve Addison gave us all promo copies of his new book Movements (it has a cool chapter 'Why Sydney Anglicans are Unpopular') . It's a great, dense, but readable little book. Worth checking out. Some of his great lines: "I get nervous when people talk about 'missional initiatives' rather than church plants. Especially when denominational money is behind it.". "Love Al Hirsch, but I haven't seen any conversion/multiplication from the emerging church in Australia. What they have done, however, is shake us all up in how we think about church". "Immigrants get converted and reinvigorate the church". "Prosperity secularises us and so we don't see church planting movements so often."
  • Richard Chin explained that AFES was extremely supportive of church planting and could recognise where new churches were needed around the campuses in Australia. But he underscored why AFES does not plant churches: it's an integrity issue. We cannot raise support for an inter-denominational venture, and then hold a monopoly with one church.
  • The sharing slipped into 'ministry expo' mode for a while, as Ben Pfahlert, Tim Scheuer and Mark Russel (Church Army UK) gave ministry 'sells' for what they are doing. This got us off-track from the purpose of the day. On the negative side, I find Tim Sheuer's 'new' conviction that we must make disciples kinda strangely 'old' and the fixation of evangelising people in 2 weeks a bit discouraging, rather than inspiring.
  • Mark Russell had the priceless line: 'The parish system is the condom of the Anglican Church: it prevents all natural growth.'
  • Michelton Presbyterian Church and its sattellite churches have beautiful websites.
  • The WA guys are starting up a local network for church planting called 121 degrees (the bearing from Jerusalem to Perth). It's cool to see local expressions of church planting networks kicking into gear. Nigel Gordon also has an Acts 29 church planting mentor.
  • Dave Macdonald confessed that Crossroads Canberra have been so intent on reaching the campus and sending people around Australia and the world, that they have never really articulated a vision for Canberra until just recently.
  • Archie Poulos, spoke of MTC's move away from residential-only study - they've resisted the change for a long time, but that's just the way the world is going.
On Tuesday night I gave a short sermon from Ephesians 2 and then Al outlined our plans for The Geneva Push:
  • A servant of networks (not simply a franchise, with 'Geneva' networks in each capital city or anything). Geneva won't dissolve FIEC or Vision 100 or 121 Degrees. Rather it will maximise impact by being a rallying point for church planters - to build energy, raise profile and provide resources.
  • Some draft Core Values were floated:
  1. Theologically driven,
  2. Theology leads to ministry philosophy,
  3. Entrepreneurial,
  4. Unembarrassed male leadership,
  5. Value, support and train our leaders - willigness to take risks, permission to fail,
  6. Substance over style,
  7. Quietly determined for long-term impact,
  8. Committed to do whatever it takes to grow the gospel beyond where we are at present...