Mission & Church Development Group

Jamie Freeman / Associate Director - Mission & Church Development

Quick stats:  

  • Churches engaged with multiple supported initiatives are growing at almost four times the rate of churches not engaged.
  • Churches engaged with multiple supported initiatives are seeing more than two and a half times the rate of baptisms as churches not engaged. 

As we pursue our God-given Gen1K goal of a thousand healthy churches in a generation, the Assembly endorsed the 2023-25 Strategic Priorities. This included a focus on mobilising healthy churches. 

The Mission and Church Development Group, which includes the Church Health, Church Multiplication, Church Witness and Global Mission Teams, engaged with over 230 of our Baptist churches in 2023. 

We observed that since 2019 there is a correlation between the level of engagement a church has with the support the Association and our ministry partners offer, and its rate of growth and baptisms. Churches engaged with multiple supported initiatives are growing at almost four times the rate of churches not engaged, and seeing more than two and a half times the rate of baptisms, as churches which are not engaged. These initiatives, many of which are profiled throughout this Annual Report, are bearing kingdom fruit. They are a practical demonstration that we are better together! 

Through our partnership with other State Associations, National Baptism Week was launched, which provided an opportunity and a prompt for leaders and churches to speak about baptism and offer it pro-actively. From the bush to the beach, new and old, urban, and rural, simple and complex, congregations witnessed an increased number of people taking the plunge. For Baptists nationally there was a 34% increase in baptisms from 2022 to 2023. 

The Association acquired sites in the Wilton and Thornton growth corridors for new and growing churches. This was a result of the strategic analysis of priority areas in the state, based on projected population growth and our current property footprint. The growing activity in property and buildings, which are a great enabler of local ministry, highlight both an enormous need for the Association and our limited resources. There is the opportunity to further demonstrate that we are better together as we coordinate our effort and leverage our shared resources towards the Gen1K goal. 

A review of the direct and indirect support available to new and growing congregations was rolled out in the Gen1K Support Guidelines. These guidelines include information on the Seed and Growth grants available to help fund initiatives in line with the Gen1K goal. Approximately $180,000 in ministry grants were approved or paid out in 2023. New churches like Table Church, Oak City, and Bloom Co received Seed Grants, while growing churches like Greenhouse used a Growth Grant to breakthrough to the next level as they lean into their calling to be a resourcing church. 

Church Health

Tim Burns / Team Leader - Church Health

Quick stats:  

  • Approximately 30% of all Association churches interacted with the Church Health Team in 2023 
  • By the end of 2023 thirty-five churches had used the CHAT (Church Health Assessment Tool) 

In 2023 the Church Health Team interacted with 126 Association churches. This represented an increase of 5% over the previous year. While the team continued to react to churches in need, it also invested in proactive initiatives, including: 

  • Adding a new cohort of 17 pastors to the Multiply program 
  • Developing the “CHAT” – a new resource: the Church Health Assessment Tool 
  • Offering the Simple Church Health Check 
  • Producing two new resource packages 

37 pastors have now participated in Multiply, a two-year program of training and coaching towards improved church health. Feedback has remained overwhelmingly positive:

“Multiply was one of the most helpful things that I have been part of since graduating from Morling College. The various speakers gave us a wealth of relevant information to enhance our pastoral work and the opportunity to connect with fellow ministry workers was invaluable. I can’t recommend it highly enough.” Rev. Jono Smith, Pastor of Concord Baptist Church, first Multiply cohort.

“Multiply is a time to connect with other church leaders and support one another. It offers the opportunity for pastors to reflect on church practice, review current health and prayerfully consider strategies to help fulfill church vision. The area leader gatherings are a rich time of prayer and support that I look forward to attending and inspire me to keep serving.” Rev. Amanda Francis, Pastor of New Vine Vineyard, second Multiply cohort. 

“Solid, practical, well presented, biblically shaped input. Inspiration and hope for those parts of church life where I’m not sure what to do next. Encouragement and camaraderie from likeminded pastors. Spiritual challenge and sincere moments of worship. All of these and more our team received from Multiply. I would recommend it to any leader eager to pursue greater church health.” Rev. John Macindoe, Senior Pastor of Central Baptist Church, second Multiply cohort.

By the end of 2023 thirty-five churches had used the CHAT to measure health across six key areas. The hope is that a growing number of churches will use it on a regular basis. 

Three churches requested a Simple Church Health Check in 2023. This uses the CHAT, a Strengths – Concerns – Opportunities and Threats analysis, and seven key quantitative markers to produce a report containing reflections and recommendations.

New resources include a Navigating Difficult Decisions package and a Pastoral Review package. The former was developed to help churches promote respectful and Christ-honouring conversations when navigating any issue that has the potential to cause internal disagreement and tension. The latter provides churches with a ready resource for developing a healthy pastoral review process. Designed to enable flexibility, it contains templates and tools that encourage proactive, formative reviews that foster health and improvement.   

The Church Health Team comprised Rev. Tim Burns (Team Leader), Rev. Steve Hales (Church Health Facilitator), Rev Nick Barber (Church Health Facilitator), Rev Yvonne Zheng (Gen1K Process Coordinator) and Mr Ted Bell (Volunteer Senior Consultant). It was well supported by the Regional Church Health Facilitators and the trained volunteers who make up the Consultancy Team.  

Regional Church Health Facilitators

Health 2

Specialised Consultancy Training with Tim Dyer of John Mark Ministries

Church Multiplication

Ken Kamau / Team Leader - Church Multiplication

Quick stats:  

  • 17 new churches planted in 2023
  • 180 pastors and leaders attended FORM 2023, with 50% of them from CALD backgrounds

We believe God has called and equipped our movement with a diverse range of gifts when it comes to seeing new churches planted. In light of this, we have focused on seeing diverse expressions of church plants that reach and speak to people in different seasons of life and faith journeys. 

This is captured in our Blended Ecology strategy, which has focused us on four models of church plants: Simple Churches, Neighbourhood Churches, Regional Churches and Resource Churches. 

Over the last two years, we have seen more of our new church planters and existing churches lean into the Blended Ecology. In 2023 we celebrated 17 new churches that comprised different expressions. 

What is even more exciting is to see the other church planting movements start to use the Blended Ecology model as a reference point for their own church planting visions. It is a great joy to see our movement be a blessing to the wider Body of Christ in Australia in this regard. 

Not only do we celebrate diversity in the kinds of churches we are planting, but we also celebrate the increasing diversity of planters God is bringing our way. Of the 17 new church plants in 2023, 11 of the planters were from Cultural and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds. 

As we closed the year with our annual church planting conference FORM, we saw a significant increase in the CALD leaders engaging in the Gen1K vision. In 2023 50% of our attendees at FORM came from CALD backgrounds, up from 21% the previous year. 

Church Witness & Intercultural Ministries

Marbuen Diaz / Team Leader - Church Witness & Intercultural Lead

Quick stats:  

  • Over 300 strategic cultural engagements, with around 85 CALD leaders in NSW, across 1st, 1.5 and 2nd generations – covering over 40 CALD churches (currently 76 CALD churches in our database).
  • Western Districts flood response, in its first year, covered 9 townships and had a direct impact on 1,843 individuals and indirect impact to 13,178 individuals (or 3840 families) – with over 100 relief and care packages distributed.

Church Witness:  

Baptistic Way of Community Advocacy. Facilitated by the Church Witness Team, a collaboration with our Baptist partners (A Just Cause, Baptist Association, BaptistCare, Baptist World Aid, Baptist Financial Services, Baptist Mission Australia and Morling College) saw a completion of our First Nations led Listening Workshops. Over the four workshops, 72 people participated with an average of 52 attendees at each workshop. It was appropriately helpful as a lead up to The Voice Referendum to collate our resources to help our churches. This high engagement was also reflected during Common Grace’s Aboriginal Sunday campaign that saw 53 Baptist churches participate. Throughout the year, we also engaged in other advocacy matters regarding conversion practices ban, gambling reform and affordable housing (through Sydney Alliance).

Disaster Response Towards Resilience. In 2023 we primarily focused on the resilience phase following the two major floods which hit the Northern Rivers and Western District regions in 2022. Through a localised participatory approach, we were able to address post-disaster mental health matters. Resiliency projects included commissioning a narrative therapy project, as well as exploring faith-based approaches to addressing presenting issues like increased suicide and PTSD.

Converge 2023. Converge is an annual gathering of Baptist leaders advocating to our nation’s political leaders for a more just Australia. The focus for 2023 was the Myanmar conflict, due to its severity and the Myanmar diaspora’s request for advocacy. Out of our three key asks, the very first ask is now implemented by the government: sanctioning the Junta’s two primary financial institutions—the MICB and the MFTB. This will limit the Junta’s capacity to trade and divest from companies doing business with the military. 


Intercultural Ministries:

There was one main focus for our intercultural ministries – from a local, regional, state, national and strategic viewpoint – which was to establish relationally-built intercultural circles. An intercultural circle is a combination of the functions of an advisory group and a community of practice, regarding cultural intelligence. 

In 2023, at a local level, we focused on relationship building and management. Mapping of key relationships, leaders and networks was the main activity. We covered 300 strategic engagements, amongst 85 key Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) leaders, across over 40 CALD churches. We also discovered over 30 CALD-based existing networks. 

A regional approach guided us to work in three key regions to enable support for our CALD churches: Greater West For Christ, Transform Southern Sydney and in the Ryde area. An internal intercultural circle (Baptist Ministry Centre) was also created.

Nationally, we collaborated across State and Territory based Associations/Unions to form the Intercultural Communities Taskforce – a delegated body by the National Council. Currently, we have two important projects that have national strategic value: 1) Create a Baptistic intercultural intelligence framework and 2) Establish a CALD emerging generation working group, based on priority areas they have defined.

True healthy interculturality occurs if God’s mission is driving it. So, a select handful of people, in collaboration with Baptist Mission Australia, explored engineering an intercultural mission pathway for our CALD churches. As the world comes to Australia, and the diaspora communities are interconnected globally, there is a great opportunity for us to explore intercultural mission – yes, to be future ready, but also to be faithful in our Gen1K vision.

Global Mission

Andrew Duncan / Team Leader - Global Mission and NSW & ACT Baptist Mission Australia

As I reflect on my first year serving as the NSW/ACT Baptist Mission Australia and Gen1k Global Mission team leader, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the tremendous support we have received from pastors, churches, and individuals within our movement. This past year has been filled with so many encouraging moments as our team of intercultural workers and Australian-based staff had the privilege of engaging with over 160 churches in person. Witnessing the missional passion, imagination and creativity within our churches has been hugely encouraging. 

Over the past year we’ve seen an increase in churches participating in exposure trips, individuals enrolling in our exploring mission course, and discerning God’s call on their lives through our mission coaching initiative. Recently, we welcomed Tash Green to the Australian Intercultural Mission team, who will be serving with Ministry to Muslims in Sydney. 

Last September, I had the privilege of attending Baptist Mission Australia’s Global Team Leaders Conference in Thailand, where I gained a deeper understanding of our global work and commitment to integral mission. Hearing stories of lives transformed, leaders developed, faith communities multiplying, and various development efforts such as creation care, education foundation, health sector involvement, aid and relief during crises, among others, all expresses our dedication to promoting Jesus in word, sign and deed.  I am humbled and thankful to work alongside such gifted and passionate team members and I continue to learn so much from them. 

Baptist Mission Australia is increasingly recognised for its pivotal role in intercultural mission, both locally and internationally. Responding to this I have had the privilege of developing the Australian Intercultural Team, which is a growing group of intercultural practitioners and educators. Embracing the rich tapestry of cultures and religions within Australia, we view this diversity as an exciting opportunity to share the message of Jesus in innovative ways. Our vision encompasses initiatives to support churches and pastors in expanding their missional horizons, overcoming cultural and religious barriers, engaging with diverse communities, strengthening ties with First Nation Christian leaders, forging new partnerships, and nurturing the next generation of intercultural team members. 

We’ve also been actively strengthening relationships with Baptist communities worldwide, partnering with brothers and sisters in countries such as Zambia, Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea, Papua, India and beyond. Initiatives like Nathan Reid’s consultancy in Papua New Guinea and opportunities for training and engagement in Zambia are expanding possibilities for partnership in intercultural mission. 

The possibilities for involvement in intercultural mission, whether in Australia or around the globe, are endless. I am excited about the journey ahead and deeply grateful to each of you who contribute to our shared vision of promoting Jesus. Special thanks to Nathan, Bu, and the Friends of Baptist Mission Australia for their unwavering passion and support. 

We are here to serve, support, and encourage you and your church in global mission, so please don’t hesitate to reach out at any time.