Mutual Benefits: Church planting

Jane does not have a lot of time for Christians, and she made that pretty clear from the start. But the offer of free pancakes meant that at least she would talk to us. She is typical of the thousands of students attending Edith Cowan University, Mt Lawley where Inglewood Community Church has launched a campus service.Our Youth Pastor, James, and I share a common burden for reaching Young Adults. Both of us are of the view that the Church should go where the mission field is. Edith Cowan University is within 5 minutes of Inglewood Church so it was an obvious choice for a second service.

Pastor James has taken on the role of Campus Pastor for ‘The Hub’. He has a heart to serve, having already been heavily involved with the Red Frog Crew. Red Frogs Australia Chaplaincy Network is a program which has a heartbeat of serving young people and assisting them through some of the most important years of their lives. Using some of these principles, the church has been launched with the core values of ‘Connecting, Serving, Living’. Each week a group of volunteers from Inglewood Church serve meals to around 70 hungry students. Students love free food.

As new students from all over the world and locally make the move to Perth and university, the start of semester is a crucial time for ‘Connect Events’. We take overseas and local students to various local attractions such as the Swan Valley and even a trip to Ikea. The Swedish students love a taste of home and the chance to explain to us what all those confusing product names actually mean.

Each Sunday night we meet on campus in a lecture theatre and hold a Church Service. We have embraced a range of interactive media to engage a student culture. Such elements as ‘Open Space Technology’, interviews, multi-media, relevant music and messages that embrace multiple learning styles. We host special guest nights with people of interest to students such as sports people, chaplains and professionals.

The first year has been one of discovering what will work in a campus situation. Some ideas, which we thought would be effective, have not worked. However, in the journey of trial and error some unexpected opportunities arose. In all of it, we seek to discover where God is working and come alongside Him. Edith Cowan University is distinctively creative being based around theatre, digital media, music, dance and other creative arts. We strongly believe our Church should reflect this and that the students should be given freedom and opportunities to express their gifts and talents.

All the events are publicised through extensive use of Facebook, which has also provided us with great opportunities to connect with students in a casual and natural way.

For Inglewood Church, planting another service has been a great way to impact an entirely different community to the one we are presently reaching. This has provided mutual benefit, to the new congregation with support and leadership and to the original congregation with energy and a missional focus. Our heartbeat as a church is to reach the unchurched for Jesus and church planting is a great way to do this.

After a number of conversations and opportunities, Jane has become our biggest advocate. In fact, when one of the students questioned our religious motives, her response was, ‘These guys are not fruit loops, they are just here to serve us’.

“Church Planting: Mutual benefit” by Mark Edwards, Senior Pastor of Inglewood Community Church. prac12.