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EFAC Australia

Stephen Hale explains some challenges and opportunities facing the church he leads.

As the Lead Minister of a larger Anglican church, we’re seeking to work through a number of major challenges. Chances are if we’re facing these challenges others might be as well.
These are five big challenges/opportunities we’re wrestling with:

1. Regional/Local

We’re a classic gathered church where people come to us from all over the place. We have a great reputation and offer a full range of ministries for families, youth and young adults. We don’t have to work hard to get people, they just come to us. While we rejoice in this unique opportunity, we’re seeking to work out what it means to be a local church. We recently visit-ed our neighbours in Kew and they told us:
• we’ve heard you’re a great church
• we don’t know what you do
• you should advertise more
• no one is creating community around here

As a church we’re seeking to reconnect locally at our two centres and to be a centre of community once again.

2. Gathered/Scattered

Most of our people are busy professionals. Our overall Mission is about discipleship. We’re working hard to help people to think about what it means to be a disciple in all of their lives. As part of our new Vision we want ‘to support each other to serve and witness wherever we live, work, study and recreate.’ It is easy to enunciate such a vision but hard to make it a reality. It is a big shift in orientation for those of us who preach and teach as well as for our small groups.     

3. Boomers

We have several hundred boomers at St Hilary’s and it is both a challenge and an opportunity. Our biggest congregation is a family congregation. The dominant group in the congregation (if they all turn up) are couples who have adult children. Many are moving to retirement. We see this both as a unique opportunity and a big challenge. We’re seeking to develop a path-way to help people to find opportunities to serve and use their gifts for the sake of the kingdom. We have also appointed our first Seniors Minister.

4. Generations
In 2014 we’re working towards creating one new department to resource our children, families, youth and young adults ministries. We want to have a more integrated team approach and a more flexible model to resource our multi-site future. This also relates to having a more active partnership with parents in the discipleship of their children and young people.

5. Network
We’re currently a dual-site church. It is likely we will be a tri-site church within twelve months. We’re actively exploring how best to be a network of congregations and centres. We’ll offer strong oversight and governance and administration while
giving the congregations/centres freedom to do mission in all sorts of creative ways. At the same time we’ll offer good resourcing of our specialist areas of ministry.
I don’t know if any of this rings true for you. Part of what EFAC can do is to help each other to grow healthy and growing churches.

Stephen Hale is the Chair of EFAC Australia and the Lead Minister of St Hilary’s Kew/Balwyn in Melbourne

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