by Steen Olsen
By the time Pastor Nathan and Yvette Hedt (pictured above) and their family arrived in Packenham in eastern Melbourne a year ago, there was already a small group of Christians keen to plant a vibrant, growing church on the campus of Lakeside Lutheran College. In partnership with the college and the LCA Board for Local Mission (BLMiss), the Victorian District had called Pastor Nathan to be a church planter.
Pastor Nathan writes, ‘Our new church is not about multiple programs or flashy worship services. Rather, we will be looking to build authentic community. We are doing that through implementing ‘missional communities’—local neighbourhood gatherings of Christians who meet for a meal each week, share Scripture and prayer, and intentionally engage in God’s mission to the people around them. We hope and pray that as new people come to know Jesus, these missional communities will multiply so that eventually there’s one in each of the housing estates in Pakenham.’
The interim Board for Local Mission was established by the 2103 General Synod to promote, resource and coordinate the growth of mission culture in all the diverse ministries of our church in Australia and New Zealand. In adopting the tagline, ‘new and renewing churches’, BLMiss is saying that its focus is on both new mission initiatives and revitalising existing congregations and other ministries.
Dean Eaton is the BLMiss church planting mentor and mission facilitator. He works with our ten sending churches preparing them to appoint and support church-planting teams, assisting with leadership formation and evangelism training. Dean has provided training in each of the six districts of our church. Some training is specific to the sending churches but the six-part evangelism training is open to all. So far, over 600 people have taken up this opportunity.
Early in 2016, BLMiss will be launching its support for the revitalising of our congregations and other communities. We are not just asking ourselves what we should believe—as important as that question is—but also how we should live. In doing so we are not seeking to identify a set of rules that must be obeyed. Rather we are asking what practices we need to embed in the fabric of our lives together, so that the things we believe may truly shape who we are.
We want to support all LCA communities in their journey toward better health. Therefore, the approaches and resources being used in our ten sending churches will now be made available to all congregations, schools and other communities in the LCA, to assist them on their journey to