If you could say one thing – Meet Ash

What would you say if you had the chance to communicate one important thing? Grace City brings you a new mini-series from members of the launch team, who share a message they think you need to hear. Today, Ash Cleworth encourages us with one idea worth sharing.

 

If you could say one thing, what would it be?

‘Sharing the Gospel matters.’

For most of my life I had avoided evangelism – talking to my friends about Jesus and what His life, death and resurrection means for them. I thought to myself… “I’m not good at it”.. “it’s not my gift”.. “she’s better at it than me, she should probably do it”.. How sad to think of all the opportunities I’ve missed!

All we have to do is have a go! We don’t have to hit a homerun and see them come to faith straight away (although how awesome would that be!) – just get in there, be bold and say something. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t come out right or if they think less of you afterwards. You’ve had a go, and God, in His mercy, will water the seed and find His lost sheep.

What excites you about joining Grace City?

Pretty much everything! The Green Square area itself is exciting – thousands of people in need of Jesus or a new church family are moving into an area. It’s a privilege and opportunity to be a part of the birth of a new church.

 

What’s something you’d love to get involved in within Green Square?

I’m really looking forward to joining a local netball team (and hopefully knitting/something crafty club!) and getting to know women in the area.

 

What’s one reason the Gospel means so much to you?

Life can be really hard and it is so sad to watch people go through life and not know true joy and true hope and true love. I am so thankful that I know this joy, this hope and this love because of Jesus.

 

What’s something you’d love prayer for?

One of my many struggles is that I fear other people, seeking their acceptance and approval. This makes it hard for me to share the Gospel with people I have met, am getting to know or those I love. I’d love and appreciate if you could pray that I acknowledge God in His fullness and fear Him above all else – and that this would make me bold and unashamed of God’s good news and work in me.

 

Grace-City-Church-Ash-And-Charles

Ash Cleworth is married to Charles and is a member of the Grace City launch team. They are committed to meeting with the team each month, to pray & prepare for the launch of Grace City in 2015. If you are interested in joining the launch team, click here for more information.

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.

The Grace City Church Supporters Afternoon

A few weeks ago we held the Grace City Supporters Afternoon. It was so encouraging to see so many people come along to show their support for our church plant. We saw more than 100 come along. Many responded with their support through pledging to pray, provide and some even asking to participate in the plant.

Exciting

Through all of this, it was incredibly exciting to see brothers and sisters in Christ gather together to celebrate a new church being created with the goal of reaching the lost with the gospel. We saw friends and family come along as well as those who could ride a bike around the corner and drive more than 2 hours to be there. All of this reminded us how good our God is. He is sovereign, and has His mighty hand over us as we go forth and plant in the hope of reaching people with the gospel.

If you were there with us for the Grace City Supporters Afternoon, thank you so much for your support. If you were supporting us from a distance, or couldn’t make it, we’re still so thankful for your support. To see a little more of the day, check out the photo gallery below.

 

 

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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.

Read More

Why Green Square in March 2015?

A couple of weeks ago we announced the launch of Grace City Church. In this article I’d like to introduce you to the area and explain briefly why we’ve decided to plant a church there. My intended audience is threefold:

  1. Grace City Church– we want our members to grow in their love and knowledge of both the people and the story of Green Square.
  2. Our supporters– we want those who are considering supporting us prayerfully and/or financially to know why this ministry is something that needs their support.
  3. The curious– we want to educate those who might be observing from afar and encourage them to join us in prayer, provision and/or participation as we seek to undertake this task.

Where is Green Square?

So where exactly is Green Square? Technically, Green Square is not a council area. At best it is a region- there is no suburb called “Green Square.” Rather, Green Square is made up of parts of five suburbs just south of the CBD. These are Waterloo, Zetland, Alexandria, Beaconsfield and Roseberry. You can see it marked on the map below:

about Image courtesy of profile.id

What is Green Square?

Green Square is a development area. In addition to the residents who have always lived there, Green Square was once home to thousands of industrial warehouses and factories. While some of these will remain, the City of Sydney has rezoned the area for urban renewal. Consequently, thousands of new homes are being built in the area, and tens of thousands of people are moving in. According to the City of Sydney:

About 5,700 new homes have been built since 2000, bringing in almost 11,000 more residents. By 2030, Green Square is expected to attract 40,000 new residents and 22,000 new workers.

The four major new precincts can be seen on the map below. At the centre of it all, is the Green Square town centre. This will become a vibrant new community centre for the whole region with cafes, shops, a library and aquatic centre.

Green-square-map-large

Image courtesy of City Of Sydney

Who is Green Square?

Green Square is a community in transition. While it is certainly an incredibly diverse community, at the moment:

  • Residents are mostly employed full-time in professional, scientific and professional services.
  • Households are mainly couples without children (28%) and single people (26%), though it has the highest percentage of young children out of anywhere else in the city.
  • 36% of people come from countries where English is not the first language, with 10.6% from China.

Green Square is also full of young adults. As the graph below demonstrates, the primary demographic moving into the area are young professionals, aged between 20-40 years old. This is significantly more than the average of Greater Sydney. single-year-of-age (1)

Image courtesy of profile.id 

When is Green Square?

Although Green Square will continue to grow over the next 15 years, it is expected to experience the most significant growth during the next 5 years. This is a result of the increase in dwellings being built. Obviously, the more residences that are built, the more opportunities there are for people to move into the area. The graph below forecasts the increase in population over the next 20 years.

components-of-population-change

 Image courtesy of profile.id
 

So why Green Square in March 2015?

Green Square is a growing urban centre into which thousands of people are moving over the next fifteen years. While this article has said very little about the hopes, the dreams, the difficulties and the stories of those people (that’s for another article), it has tried to give a snap shot of the type of growth that is happening in the area. Green Square is:

  • 5km from the CBD
  • The fastest growing region in the City of Sydney
  • Culturally diverse
  • Full of highly educated young professionals
  • A community in formation

We’re praying that as the gospel is proclaimed, Grace City Church will be filled with people who live in the City South, as well as their family members, friends and colleagues who may live elsewhere. We want Grace City Church to become an integral part of the community. We also want to have an impact on the lives of thousands of people in the name of Jesus Christ.

Our mission is to make disciples of Jesus to the glory of God, and we want you to partner with us in making that happen. You can do that through prayer, provision and/or participation.

Next Steps?

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