Last night I attended a Supporters Supper at Doltone House in Sylvania Waters for an Anglican church plant called “Soul Revival Church”.
There were about 150 people from different churches and organisations gathered to hear about the new work that’s going to be done in the Shire.
It’s very exciting! And, as I learnt, very necessary.
There are over 220,000 people who live in the Sutherland Shire, and in the 2006 census the great majority of these people (156,369) claimed some form of affiliation with Christianity, and 55,309 of these called themselves Anglican.
That poses a problem and a challenge, seeing as only about 1% of the people in the Shire regularly attend an Anglican church.
Basically, the Sutherland Shire is a Bible Belt – there’s quite a few churches, and most people claim to be Christian, but really, it is covered with living corpses rotting in sin.
The planting of churches here in the Shire is so necessary! As was said last night (roughly, or perhaps this sentence is a compilation of various people’s sayings and conversations, but I think someone said something to this effect in conversation), “There’s about 70 churches in the Shire, and even if each church had 1,000 people, that’s still not enough to accommodate the growing number of people in the Shire.”
And that’s so true! Not to mention the dead and liberal state of many churches in the Shire, which puts Gospel-preaching and Bible-teaching-and-living churches all the more on demand.
Matt Redmond had an interesting and encouraging thought which he shared. He spoke about the need to reach people “unreached and unmoved by the Gospel”. There’s definitely that need in the Shire. Most of that 156,369 who claim Christianity are not regenerate people who have been moved by the Gospel, in many cases because the Gospel was not presented to them as moving (was it, then, the true Gospel that was presented to them?).
We need to back, not just Soul Revival Church, but also all the churches doing Gospel ministry in the Shire (and all those who are not) with prayer support. That is what they were asking for most at this supper last night, and, as Stu Crawshaw said, they are “jealous for your prayers.”
Let’s be praying for Matt Redmond, Stu Crawshaw, and the launch team of Soul Revival. This early season will be formative, and I suspect there will be the danger in these years of forming bad culture which isn’t Gospel-centred for the sake of numbers. Pray for the cultivation of sweet Gospel-defined culture. Pray that they would be faithful to our Lord and to one another. Pray that they would be radical missionaries in the Sutherland Shire. Pray that sin-calling, idol-smashing, church-planting, regeneration-preaching Christianity, typical of revival times, would be a part of Soul Revival Church. Pray that we would see some sort of revival in the Shire: that people would tear down their idols of materialism, sex, success, and place God on the throne of their heart as they proclaim the death of the Lord ’til he comes, to the praise of his glorious grace.