NCLS Research

Padstow Baptist Community Church - a Lighthouse church

Padstow Baptist Community Church: a Sydney congregation doing well in:
  • Growth in belonging and involvement
  • A focus beyond ourselves
  • Openness to new possibilities
  • Empowering and inspiring leadership

1. Do you agree the core qualities specified above are all areas of strength for your congregation or parish?

Response : Yes.

2. Why do you believe you scored so well in these areas?

Response : These are identified as areas we have been intentionally working on for some time.

3. Can you describe what you do in each of these areas?

Response. With regards to growth in belonging and involvement. Our church has had a Home Group ministry functioning for over twenty years. Although these groups meet primarily for bible study and prayer there is a strong emphasis on the development of genuine loving relationships and pastoral care in every group. We see this ministry as being so important that we have appointed a Pastor to specifically work with our Home Group leaders in developing strong and vibrant groups. The Homegroup Pastor is responsible for preparing studies, the training of existing and new group leaders and the formation of other groups.

Communication. The introduction of Talkfests. Talkfests are informal gatherings of the congregation, we usually hold them once a quarter or when necessary following the morning service and over a cuppa. They give church leadership the opportunity to inform and discuss with the church any current or future matters / issues relating to vision and direction. There is no passing of motions or voting on any issues, if there are matters that require discussion those present will form into groups of six or so and on the appointment of a facilitator from within the group discuss the issue[s] and then report back to the meeting their points. The leadership makes no comment other than the promise to investigate the points made in each group and report back regarding any decision they may make. Should there be a need to vote on some matter a church business meeting will be called. Talkfest keep the doors of communication open, they give people a strong sense that it’s their church and they can make a valuable contribution as they present their thoughts and ideas.

Elders and Pastors hold “Information Nights” where they visit Homegroups to discuss current issues and seek to answer any question folk may have. We see this as an important strategy in developing trust and confidence in the leadership by church members.

Ministry philosophy. We believe in assisting folk to identify their spiritual gift and then releasing them into ministry. We use the Baptist S.H.A.P.E. studies for this purpose. Every ministry apart from Home Groups and Youth consists of a lay leader and a team of dedicated people.

Of great importance is our Pastoral Care ministry. This ministry attends to several key areas within the church. Door greeters, ushers, new attendees follow up and luncheons, hospital visitation, encouragement cards, absentee follow up, family meals, prayer chains etc. There is a small but dedicated team working with our Pastoral Care coordinator, together they involve many church members in all of these areas as needs arise.

A focus beyond ourselves. Twenty years ago the then leadership commissioned a consultant to survey the local community. The aim was to identify what were the real needs of people living in our community. The result was the commencement of Padstow Community Care[ PCC]

PCC commenced operating with a crisis counseling centre, an emergency relief centre, a community bargain shop and a Long Day Care Centre. The ministry grew steadily over the years but more so in recent ones. Since its inception PCC has added many other services to the already existing ones that benefit the marginalised and disadvantaged in our community. We have a counseling centre for those who need physiological, emotional and spiritual counseling. We place particular importance on working with families and children who are in crisis. Through our Emergency Relief office we are able to offer support to those facing critical situations in their lives. We are working with the unemployed, the addicted and people who are generally in some kind of crisis. We operate a workshop that offers piece and process work to people on disability pension and the unemployed.

We currently have around 50 volunteers many from our church some from other fellowships still others who have been those we have helped in the past. The church fully endorses this ministry and firmly believes it to be God’s particular vision for them. As such a good deal of our resources are focused on PCC. Key staff are all members of Padstow Baptist Community Church.

We also have a strong overseas mission emphasis. Some years ago we appointed a Missions Coordinator [volunteer] who in turn gathered a team of like minded missions people and asked them to explore ways of increasing our involvement with Christian ministries in other countries. Along with myself the coordinator encouraged our church members to be involved in short-term mission trips. Some 90 people from our church have gone on such trips to such places as India [9 times], Bolivia x2, China x3 and the Philippinesx3. We have intentionally developed a strong relationship with a ministry in India and visit that ministry bi-yearly. The Senior Pastor has traveled with most of those teams.

We have a vibrant Youth Ministry with a full time Youth Pastor . His primary focus is the development of leadership. His youth team are those he is training and they assist him in his ministry. At least 70% of young people attending our Youth Ministry Programs are from outside of the church.

4. What are some of the lessons or principles that you have learnt that would be helpful to other church leaders?

Response : In my opinion crucial to life and vitality is the sense of anticipation and expectancy that is generated by having a God given vision, it also gives members the assurance that the church has direction. Through recognising the way God has uniquely fashioned us over many years we have been able to develop existing ministries or introduce new ministries that complement our vision. The Pastoral team preaches regularly on the church’s vision and the church leadership takes opportunities as they arise to communicate it to the church members. We place a strong emphasis on development of leaders, which begins, in our Youth Ministry where future leaders are recognised and intentionally developed. All our current Pastoral staff have been “home grown”

People are free to explore along with the leaderships support and encouragement any ministry they feel called by God to do. Naturally the criteria for the introduction of any new ministry is that it lines up with our vision.

Finally, I believe that longevity in ministry is one of the keys to growing a church. The current Senior Pastor has been with this church for 17 years. We place a great deal of emphasis on the growing of relationships, this we do from the leadership down. Those relationships can only be developed over time. The result is trust, corporate stability, high morale, harmony and a commitment to serve and minister together.

5. What has worked well for you that you would recommend for other church leaders to try?

Response : Conduct a survey of the local community and then go about developing ministries that genuinely touch the real needs of people. Three years ago the leadership was concerned that the church was some how meandering from its vision and purpose. We approached the Baptist churches of NSW and asked if they would conduct a consultation with us. Their work with us along with their reports and recommendations were of tremendous benefit to us and enabled us to plan more intentionally for the future.

6. What are some of the dangers or pitfalls that you can warn other church leaders about?

Response : Growing too quickly. Not planning or building for the future. Not having a vision. Not taking time out to think and pray. Doing what you are not meant to do – the church should not be suffering from an identity crisis it should know how God has fashioned and gifted it to fulfill His vision and purpose. Don’t short cut training.

See the importance of building relationships as against using people. Build strong positive relationships with Pastoral team members and their families– be friends, be prepared to release the ministry to them. Encourage their giftedness. Don’t hold the ministry to yourself. See the potential in others release them to serve. Be generous with your encouragement.

Contact details:

Congregation/Parish Name : Padstow Baptist Community Church

Postal Address : PO Box 289 Padstow 2211

Phone : 02 9772 4935.

E-mail : ghoare@optusnet.com.au

Contact Name : Pastor Graham Hoare


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