With a desire to equip and nurture a church planting movement across Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific, more than 250 individuals registered for an online Church Planting Symposium organized by Avondale University and the South Pacific Division (SPD) on October 15th and 16th.
The program featured a line-up of expert presenters including SPD President Pastor Glenn Townend, SPD Director of Adventist Mission and Mission to the Cities Strategy Leader, Pastor Wayne Krause, Associate Professor at Avondale University, Dr. Kayle de Waal, SPD Director of Ministry and Strategy, Dr. Sven Ostring, Associate Ministerial Director for Evangelism for the North American Division, Pastor Jose Cortes, Lead Pastor of the successful multi-site Adventist congregation Crosswalk Church (USA), Dr. Timothy Gillespie, SPD Administrative Assistant for Adventist Mission, Shaylee Walsh, as well as a presentation from church multiplication group Exponential Australia.
“Avondale theology and ministry students, church leaders, church planters, pastors, and laypeople from all over the SPD met to receive biblical and up-to-date practical ministry ideas,” said SPD President Pastor Glenn Townend. “Seeing such enthusiasm from such a broad range of people who learned together was encouraging to me.”
Throughout the presentations, online attendees learned about the vision for the church in the South Pacific, the importance of the spiritual life of a church planter, the biblical basis of church planting, and the different models of church planting - house churches, micro-churches, community churches, and multi-site churches.
“From the Division’s perspective, we encourage any type or model of church planting,” said Pastor Krause. “You can plant churches and not make disciples, but if you make disciples you will eventually have to plant churches.”
Organized specifically by the Avondale Seminary, Chaplaincy Department, and Avondale University Church, in partnership with the Adventist Mission and Mission to the Cities departments at the South Pacific Division, the event was compulsory for Avondale seminary students but was also expanded to meet the needs of the church more broadly.
“Church entities working together [and] collaboratively is very important, and this was an opportunity to [encourage] that,” Avondale Seminary director Dr Erika Puni.
“We want everyone from every institution to know how to make disciples, plant churches, and look at our cities as our greatest mission field,” said Pastor Krause. “We would like there to be a movement of volunteers across our division, and for us to truly become a disciple-making movement.”
The Church Planting Symposium was part of a two-year cycle of topics offered in a symposium format to Avondale students each semester. In the past 12 months, there has been a focus on Discipleship (Semester 2, 2020), Mission to the Cities (Semester 1, 2021), and now church planting (Semester 2, 2021). The plan is to incorporate all three topics in another symposium in the first semester of next year.
The project is spearheaded by Dr. Puni, Pastor Krause, Avondale Seminary Lecturer, Pastor Hensley Gungadoo, Avondale University Church Pastor, Normal Hurlow, Avondale University Chaplain, Pastor Brock Goodall, Australian Union Conference Ministerial Secretary, Pastor Brendan Pratt, New Zealand Pacific Union Conference Discipleship Ministries Leader, Pastor Victor Kulakov, and Ms. Walsh.
“It’s our intention to use the funding available from the SPD to have this cycle continue indefinitely, so long as we have the making of disciples as the mission of the SPD,” said Dr. Puni.
To watch most of the presentations from the symposium, please visit: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2k2WZaq_uZNuUlIl0o5rQQoTIawU3Vg9.