Church Plant (Southern District)
Being a pastor is not something that I have always aspired for. It wasn’t until halfway through Bible College that others began telling me that I had pastor
written all over me. Planting a church has not always been on my to-do-list either, yet it seems as though it is now. Being a part of a church planting team is not something that I have always aspired for. Aren’t there already enough churches in Australia? Shouldn’t we be concentrating more on evangelism and discipleship than on starting another church? It wasn’t until 2010 that the seed was planted in my spirit. I attended a DCPI course – in Melbourne ironically. I began to see the benefits for the Kingdom of God in the ministry of planting churches. I remember having conversations with people about church planting at District events. When Sonia and I bought a house a half hour drive from Gympie it crossed our minds to begin a work in that area, reaching people with the love of God and the good news about Jesus. It never eventuated though and we were called to pastor the Mary Valley church. The idea of planting a church took a backseat to the idea of leading a church that desperately needed pastoral care for one reason or another. The thought did cross my mind from time to time to plant a church from the Mary Valley church. However, the Lord had other work for us to do at that time so the idea of planting a church took a back seat.
It was late in 2014 that church planting decided to move from the back seat. It started in the space of four days and the terms “church” and “Casey City” came up in two unrelated conversations with two unrelated individuals who I trust and are walking closely with the Lord. There was a stirring in my spirit, Sonia’s also. Was this the Lord? “Church” is a term used by many people, but not many have heard of Casey City. It is a growing area an hour’s drive south-east of Melbourne. Sonia and I immediately committed to prayer the thought that the Lord was trying to get us to move to that area – even if we were happy to stay where we were. We contacted the Southern District DS, Rev. Phil Hotchkin. After some time of communicating over the phone with him he suggested we come down to meet up with a small team of people who were passionate about planting a new church in or around the Casey City area. Sonia and I met with them and sensed the Lord was in it. However, even though we both had a stirring in our hearts that the Lord was calling us to deeper waters it wasn’t set in concrete in my heart…..until Anzac Day weekend. We had arranged to spend our Wedding Anniversary weekend in Melbourne and I sensed that would be the time I received my confirmation that we are going to move to Melbourne and plant a church. I booked the flights a month in advance and began searching for romantic places to stay. They don’t come cheap! Needless to say, my stinginess got the better of me and I failed to book anything. Life happens and two days before we are to fly down we realise that we have no place to stay. We prayed and God gave us a word – literally! “Corinya”. So I Google it: Corinya Melbourne. It happens to be the name of a fancy bed and breakfast near Pakenham – an hour’s drive south-east of Melbourne! We rang up and booked it straight away. We found out that this place is “usually” booked out months in advance but it just so happened that a couple had cancelled their reservation minutes before we called. We arrived on the Friday, it was romantic. No confirmation yet. We were to meet with the Southern District DBA Saturday morning. As we met the DBA I sensed that one particular member had something to say, yet didn’t say anything throughout the entire interview. Then at the last moment they spoke. What they said was all the confirmation I needed, “The Lord is in this and you are already 50% there.”
The DBA invited us to come and lead the church plant team and from that moment my heart was set. We spoke with the Mary Valley board when we returned home and broke the news of how the Lord was leading us. We all cried and prayed. We shared with the church the following Sunday. More crying and praying. It is quite easy to preach about stepping out in faith and trusting God at His word, but it is much harder to put it into practice. Without going into more detail (I feel like I’ve probably said enough), Sonia and I have had our times of doubt but the Lord has comforted us each and every time confirming in our hearts that we are going the right direction. Living by faith is sacrificing what I know for what God knows – and who knows what God knows (Isa.55:8-9). We are trusting the Lord and looking forward to seeing Him move mightily in the coming years. We don’t have all the answers but living for Him isn’t about that; we live by faith, not by sight. We know that God is raising up a team of amazing and passionate people for us to work alongside in this venture. We are looking forward to journeying with them in reaching people with the love of God revealed in the gospel of Jesus. We are expecting to be led by the Holy Spirit, being sensitive to His guidance as we prepare for this new church plant. We are praying for revival in the hearts of the lost and that we might partner the Lord in evangelism. Please join us in prayer.
Iain & Sonia McGill