Janine van den Tillaart
What do you do when your family service has filled the church to capacity with no room for growth? You move your service to the hall. Then what do you do when the hall is overflowing? That was the ‘dilemma’ that faced St George’s Bluff Point, and one Assistant Minister/BCA Field Staff Brendan Hurley and Senior Minister Paul Spackman have needed to address.
“Our 9.30 am service used to be in the church building, it’s a stunning building which was built in 1935 but on the inside it’s not really functional for ministry,”explains Brendan. “Halfway through last year we started meeting in the church hall which gave us an extra 20–30 seats and now the hall is full. We have about 80–85 people joining us each Sunday, many who are non-Christians.”
While ideally St George’s would love to grow the 9.30 am congregation further, they are restricted by their buildings, so this year they are starting a 6 pm service.
So what has encouraged such fantastic growth? “We have really good engagement with the community, we try to preach the gospel clearly, persuasively & effectively and engage people’s world view,” says Brendan. “We also aim to make the church a place that makes sense to people and where they feel welcomed the very moment they step in the door.”
“I have a ministry friend in Perth who took a bunch of students to the TAB and told them to place a bet. They all found it overwhelming – so many screens and confusing pieces of paper. My friend then stopped them. He wanted them to remember – this is what it’s like every time a non-Christian comes into a church. It’s so overwhelming. ‘Where do I sit? What are all these books? What is this book in the Bible called Matthew?’. It is our plan to make church accessible for people so they can understand what is going on from the moment they walk in the door.”
The 9.30 am service is designed to encourage families. Initially the service wasn’t built for the more boisterous kids and for non-Christians that was a bit of dealbreaker. So the Bluff Point team have made the kids feel part of the service and interactive kids’ talk in church every Sunday and a revitalised Sunday School.
“We are really stoked with the growth at St George’s,” says Brendan. “We have not only seen the church grow but non-Christians are coming and they are inviting their friends.”