COVID19 Update

Dear Grace City,

In light of the current spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the climate of fear surrounding it, I am writing to update you about Grace City’s response to the virus, the precautions we are taking and how we plan to communicate internally about the situation as it unfolds.

PERSPECTIVE

Let me begin with a bit of perspective. The world has a virus far worse than COVID-19. It’s called sin. It infects 100% of humanity and it leaves no survivors. Therefore, humanity’s greatest need is not a vaccine for COVID-19 (as important as that is), but salvation from sin. Without a Saviour, there is no hope.

Thank God for Jesus Christ!

In Christ, there is salvation. In Christ we have hope and the confidence that no matter what happens, God is working for our good and his glory. With that in mind, can I encourage you to use this situation as an opportunity to show the world the difference that Christ makes in your life? Don’t give in to fear. God is good and in control. Therefore, let’s ask him for opportunities to love others and speak of the solid hope we have in Christ.

CHURCH SERVICES

Until further notice, our Sunday services and Community Groups will continue to meet as usual. If the advice from the Sydney Anglican Diocese ever suggests that we stop this, we will do so immediately. They, and we, will also be monitoring updates from the Australian Federal Government and NSW Department of Health to help inform our decisions in this area. As for now, no such advice has been given. With that in mind, I want to encourage you to keep gathering with our church family on Sundays and during the week, while taking sensible precautions to minimise the risks of the virus spreading.

PRECAUTIONS

Personal Hygiene

Part of loving others will involve sensible precautions, particularly with regards to personal hygiene. Good hygiene includes:

  • washing your hands often with soap and water – this is better than hand sanitiser
  • using a tissue and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • avoiding close contact with others, such as shaking hands or kissing on the cheek


From next Sunday (or when stock is next available), hand sanitiser will be available at both front and back entrances to the building as well as at the entrance to the Freedom Hub. Hand soap has also been restocked in the bathrooms. There’s also plenty of toilet paper! 

Cafe Food

At Grace City, we love good food and coffee because it helps to create an environment in which we can grow together in Christian community. With that in mind, we’re going to continue serving food and coffee, but the type of food and the manner in which we serve it may need to change over the coming months. At this stage, these changes will primarily involve our café teams wearing gloves as they prepare and serve food, but further changes may become necessary in the weeks and months to come.

Self-Quarantine

As of yet, there is no evidence of the virus being present within the Grace City community. To ensure that it remains that way, the key aspects to consider remain (1) flu-like symptoms (these include having a fever or respiratory symptoms such as a cough, shortness of breath, runny nose or sneezing) and (2) the contact you have had with people who have been traveling from countries affected.

For the sake of loving others in our community, I would request that you self-quarantine and do not attend our Sunday services or your Community Group in the event that:

  1. You have been to mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Iran, Italy and South Korea within the last 14 days
  2. You have been in close contact with someone who has recently returned overseas from the above countries in the last 14 days. (‘Close contact’ is defined as living in the same household, 15 minutes face-to-face contact in any setting, or sharing a closed space with a person for more than two hours.)
  3. You or your children are or have been unwell with flu-like symptoms in the last 14 days and you have not been specifically cleared of Coronavirus by a doctor.


In the event that you develop flu like symptoms, 
or have been in contact with someone travelling from affected countries, please visit your doctor and get tested. However, your doctor may decide not to have you tested. You should operate on the basis of your doctor’s recommendation, as your doctor is the best and most qualified person to make a determination in your case. So, if your doctor clears you, or doesn’t think you need to get tested, please gather with us on Sundays and in Community Groups!

For those who are unable to attend Sunday services, I would love to encourage you to make use of the Live Stream. For some time, we have been streaming our Sunday services through Grace City’s YouTube channel (you can access this under the Resources tab on the website). That being said, we are currently exploring options to improve this service as a way of caring for those unable to join us in person due to sickness or geography.

For Parents

Here’s a quick note to parents from Brie Pattison, our City Kids Coordinator:

“While children appear to be less vulnerable to the impact of the virus, we always want to ensure that City Kids is a safe place and that we follow good hygiene practises to minimise transmission as much as possible. Many of these practices are already things that we do at City Kids! As always, if children arrive at City Kids with a fever, cough or cold symptoms, you will be asked to keep them in your care. Hand sanitiser is available in each room and is used by leaders as they arrive. Our teams sanitise all toys and equipment after use on Sunday with antibacterial wipes. Children’s hands are wiped before eating, and food is served by one leader into individual children’s bowls to ensure that children don’t touch other’s food. Please make sure that the water bottle you send with your child is clearly labelled with their name. To minimise touching shared surfaces, leaders will now also offer to sign your child in for you on the tablets.”

COMMUNICATION

As mentioned, the staff team will continue to monitor the information and updates from the Australian Federal Government and the NSW Department of Health and regularly reassess the action we take. We will email you with any updates, and if there is urgent information, you will also receive a text message to the number we have stored on Elvanto indicating that you have received an email requiring urgent attention. Please ensure that we have your correct mobile number here.

___

I trust and pray you will understand why we as a church are taking these measures. While we don’t want to foster panic and are confident that the risk is currently low, it’s also important that we do our part to ensure that our church community stays safe, and that we care for the most vulnerable within and outside of Grace City. That’s important to remember. We are doing this not for our own benefit or to protect ourselves, but to love and care for others around us.

Therefore, let me finish with a final appeal not to waste this opportunity. As the world around us increasingly succumbs to fear and panic, we have an opportunity to be different. Sickness and disease are a tangible reminder that we live in a broken world and that we are desperately dependent on God. As a people who know the eternal hope of the gospel this is an opportunity for us to show Christ-like love, service and concern for others, and to share of the hope we have in Christ.

Tim Clemens,

Lead Pastor

Join us for our new series!

Abraham

Abraham is often referred to as the ‘Father of the Faith’. Actually, he is the father of three faiths! 2.2 billion Christians, 1.6 billion Muslims and 20 million Jews all claim him as their spiritual father. Regardless of whether you are religious or not, Abraham is an important man to understand if you want to make sense of the world we live in.

God

More important than Abraham, however, is the God he worshipped. After all, Abraham died some 4000 years ago, but his God is Everlasting (Gen 21:33). He is the same yesterday, today and forever. As the spiritual children of Abraham, he is our God too (Gal 3:7)! Therefore, this term we will study our Everlasting God. In particular, we are going to discover what it looks like to trust in his word of promise.

To do this, we will walk with Abraham through Genesis 12-22 and learn from him as he learns to trust in the promises of God. It is a journey with lots of ups and downs. Abraham finds faith easy at first (Gen 12:1-4), but then he falters. His faith falters when the promises of God don’t match with the harsh realities of his life (chapters 12, 16 & 20). Throughout Abraham’s journey, God is gracious and kind, confirming his promises (chapter 15 and 17) and teaching him how to live in the gap between promise and reality.

Faith

Abraham is the exemplary man of faith in the Bible (Rom 4, Gal 3:6-14, Hebrews 11:8-19). So it is right for us to learn from him. That being said, if Abraham is only an example to be followed, he doesn’t offer much hope. For, despite his failures, who could live up to the example of Abraham? Thankfully, our salvation relies not on the strength of our faith, but in God’s faithfulness to his promises.

The Apostle Paul told the Galatians, God ‘announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you”’ (Gal 3:8). He is talking about Jesus Christ. To find faith in the promises of God, therefore, we ultimately to find faith in Jesus Christ. He is the one in whom all of God’s promises find their ‘yes’ (2 Cor 1:20). He is the one upon whom our salvation rests!

Join Us

So join us this term as we walk with Abraham through Genesis 12-22. Please ask God to use this series to help us find faith in our Everlasting God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and to trust him as we live in the gap between promise and reality.

If you missed the first sermon in the series, listen to it now.

Who is leading Grace City Church?

Rick Warren says, “Most people choose a church based on the senior pastor, but they stay at the church because of their friends.” I have no idea whether that statement is correct or not, but if there’s even an ounce of truth in it there’s no point in pretending that leaders don’t matter. They do. The real question is what type of leader are you going to be? And more importantly, what type of leader are you going to follow?

For the sake of brevity, this post will not spend a great deal of time talking about the type of leader that I follow. I expect to spend the rest of my life talking about him. But just to be clear, his name is Jesus. He is King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and my life belongs to him. So too does the life of my lovely wife, Emma. We are his to do with as he pleases.

Instead, what I want to do in this post is give you a brief introduction to Emma and myself. That way, you can get to know us a little more and see who’s leading Grace City Church. What you do in response to this information is up to you, but at the very least, we’d love your prayers as we embark on the journey ahead. Also, for the sake of full-disclosure… I’m writing this post at the request of my team.

Backstory

Emma and I both grew up on Sydney’s North Shore and attended Christ Church, St Ives. Technically we first met when my family joined the church in Year 4, but I’ve got no solid memories of Emma until I was in Year 11. It was at church one time when a friend of mine from school pointed across the room and asked me, “Who’s the hot blonde chick?” I had no idea that he had just pointed out my future wife.

Emma and I didn’t really speak much until we started leading the youth group together in 2006. Within a month or so, the scales had fallen off my eyes and I finally realised that the woman of my dreams had been right there in front of me all along. I asked her to be my girlfriend on the 21st September, 2006 and 18 months later I told her I loved her and asked her to marry me. She said yes and we got married on December 22, 2008.

Early Years

Thankfully, Emma knew that she was marrying a future pastor. I’d just finished an Arts Degree at Sydney Uni and was employed to work at St Ives High as an SRE teacher. This was a great time of learning for me and taught me how to communicate the gospel in an often skeptical and sometimes hostile environment. It also gave me an opportunity to develop some resources for other SRE teachers. This experience grew within me a passion for evangelism and producing resources.

It was also during this time that we first got in contact with the Geneva Push. Here we met like-minded people who had a vision to plant churches all over Australia. We loved what they stood for and have deeply appreciated the teaching and development that we have experienced through these relationships. If you are interested in church planting, you should definitely check them out!

Ministry Preparation

In 2011 I began as a student at Moore College. At the same time, Emma and I moved to Church By The Bridge and helped to plant a new congregation in Lavender Bay. We spent two years at this church and absolutely loved it. In 2013 we moved to Church Hill in the city and I was able to observe the planting of another new congregation in Walsh Bay. Both of these experiences have been incredibly helpful in preparing us to plant Grace City.

In 2013, Church Hill sent me to Asia to experience the Redeemer City to City month long intensive for church planting. Emma also attended this training for a week. This was an incredibly formative time and has helped to give me a passion and vision for a gospel ministry that might engage and enrich not just the members of our church, but the city as well.

Grace City Church

2014 is a year of transitions. This year I will complete my final year at Moore College and Emma is about to start a new job. It’s also the year that Grace City has started its incubation phase.

I find it helpful to think of Grace City as a newly conceived baby. It already exists and it’s a real church, but like all babies it takes about 9 months to grow. No doubt the next nine months will be a little hectic and crazy, but like all pregnancies we’re convinced that the pain will be totally worth it!

So as God grows Grace City Church this year, and as I seek to feed it with the Word of God and prayer, please pray for Emma and I. Pray that God would grow us in love for one another and for him. He is our hope. He is our rock. And he is the reason we are planting Grace City Church.

What is the mission of Grace City Church? Part 2

A mission statement tells you what a group or organisation does. It tells you its purpose for being. Walt Disney wanted “To make people happy.” Nike wants “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” And McDonald’s wants “To be our customers’ favourite place and way to eat.” Without a mission statement, organizational drift is inevitable.

mission statement

Our mission is to make disciples of Jesus to the glory of God, by:

Proclaiming the gospel
Planting churches, and
Producing resources.

In Part 1 of this 2-part series, I tried to unpack the first line of our mission statement and what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. As promised, in this post I’d like to unpack why we’ve included each of the 3 P’s as well. In short, we want to have an impact beyond ourselves and beyond our lifetime.

Therefore, while the mission of Grace City Church begins at home in Green Square, it extends beyond the local community, into more regional areas and even the globe. Jesus told his disciples to make disciples of all nations. We think he actually meant it.

Each point mentioned in the mission statement above has a corresponding location. Now, these are certainly not mutually exclusive, but they do reveal the way in which our prayers have led us to focus our energies- at least for the time being.

Proclaim The Gospel (Local)

Grace City Church will meet in Waterloo. Our building will not primarily be a space for mission, but a base for mission. With that in mind, we will seek to:

  • Facilitate opportunities for our members to be on mission to the people in Green Square and the City South, and
  • Equip our members to be on mission to their families, friends, and colleagues.

We pray that as the gospel is proclaimed, Grace City Church will be filled with people who live in Green Square and the wider City South, as well as their family members, friends and colleagues who may live elsewhere.

Plant Churches (Regional)

According to Tim Keller, “the continuous, rigorous planting of new churches is the single most effective strategy to see the numerical growth of the body of Christ and the renewal of established churches.” In other words, church planting is an excellent way to make disciples of Jesus to the glory of God.

Therefore, we believe that planting churches both within and beyond Green Square and the City South is an urgent and strategic work for us to be involved in. We pray that in time, these new churches will be a combination of affiliate, family and campus plants. Some might remain connected to Grace City, but we suspect many will not.

Produce Resources (Global)

Thanks to modern technology we have new abilities. It is now possible for a relatively small group of people to have a disproportionately large impact on the rest of the world. Therefore, we want to make use of the extraordinary facilities that we have at our fingertips to produce gospel centred resources. We pray that these will be used by God to make and mature disciples of Jesus throughout the world.

Next Steps?

Find out more about Grace City Church, and how you can be involved. Come along to our Info & Supporters Afternoon. 26th July from 3:30-4:30pm. To let us know that you’re coming, RSVP on Facebook.

What is the mission of Grace City Church? Part 1

A mission statement tells you why an organisation exists. Without a mission statement, or without clarity on what your mission actually is, organizational drift is inevitable. The mission is like the keel of a ship; it makes sure you stay on course and keep going in the direction that you are supposed to be going.

Churches that forget their mission forget their reason for being. They forget that the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. Sooner or later, churches that forget their mission end up liberal, empty and their halls are used for nothing but yoga and scouts. Not that those are bad things in on of themselves. Everyone loves a bit of yoga! But when that’s all your church is doing something has gone terribly wrong.

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