a church by any other name II

In January we decided to begin our life with the temporary name unichurch southside. As the word ‘temporary’ implies, we planned at that time to come to a permanent name. We have done this with both our own identity and communication with those outside the congregation in mind.

The critical thing is not the name, rather it is who we are as individuals and as a congregation:

  • we’re keen to be a people who know ourselves to be sojourners and exiles. We live now, we put roots down, we enjoy relationships with one another and around the city… Yet we know we will ‘move on’. We have a lasting home in heaven which we will one day go to.
  • we do that because we are Bible people. We know and love and trust and proclaim the Lord Jesus who we meet in the Scriptures.

It is with these things in mind that we came to a name which seems to fit. A name which will remind us of who we long to be. A name which helps us communicate with those around us–who we are, who we trust and what we trust him for.

sojourn bible church


first sunday on the southside

Our first meeting is this weekend!

It’s exciting to finally be at this point and we’re thankful to our great God that the practicalities are falling into place.

  • 9:30am start
  • at Dutton Park State School, 112 Annerley Road, Dutton Park
  • there will be both creche and kidschurch (a programme for primary school kids)

interest meeting 02 notes

These are the notes I worked from at the second interest meeting (26 July) with a few amendments to reflect the content of our conversation along the way.

In this meeting we moved from why plant a church to what the church will look like.


We read Ephesians 3:14-4:16 & touched on God’s work by his Spirit enabling us to grasp more and more the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ; Christ’s giving of the word gifts that all may be equipped to speak the word in love and so mature together and see God save many.

Launch team

everyone (& leadership)

We explored what it will mean to be on the launch team…

In my mind the launch team is everyone who will be part of the congregation kicking off next year. That is, everyone who is planning to be part of the group who will begin meeting then is welcome.

I’m keen for it to be the larger group rather than a few from among us because the reality is that, as we begin and as we continue, southside will be an exercise in partnership. It is not something that I am doing and you are helping with. It is a venture initiated by Roy and the elders & board at unichurch which I have been asked to lead… and am keen to lead. But It is something for which we are forming a partnership in order that we might do it together.

I want to avoid the feeling that the church plant is something that I am doing… or that I am doing with a select few… and that you are invited to attend.

There will inevitably be some who take on more concrete responsibilities and roles that require more effort or are more to the fore. But it is very much a group activity, both as we move towards starting and as we continue.

In relation to that, I should say that running the launch team in this way does not mean that we are abandoning the idea of leadership. It is part of the New Testament description of church to have leaders. At the moment it’s me, but we will develop formal leadership with elders and small group leaders etc down the track.

I’ve been stressing that it will be hard work because I don’t want you to be surprised when you are asked to invest your time and effort serving in the church and in the community.

To be honest, it may not feel very much like hard work. I expect there will be much to rejoice in and that the partnership of doing things together will make the load feel lighter. Our family loved being part of the group who planted a church down in Sydney in 2000.

But please don’t be surprised when you’re asked to serve and when your name comes up more frequently on the roster and it’s not the roster you would have chosen to be on and when there aren’t three or four other people who could offer assistance to the regular or newcomer who needs it.

From February 2009

From February next year, there will be core ways to serve that really I’d expect everyone to do. Namely, being at big church and little church every week with the mindset, ‘How can I contribute?’; and seeing all of life as an opportunity to speak the truth in love.

As we seek to be a church through and among whom God is saving, keeping, maturing, equipping and deploying his people, the programs we will run are big church and little church.

We touched on some of the advantages of running small groups which follow the sermon series both in relation to our mutual encouragement and loving unbelievers among us.

There will be a range of ways to serve which arise out of that.

…until then

But we’re not there yet. You want to know what the next 6 months look like. How will each of us serve in that time?

A key contribution everyone will make is simply being part of the conversation as we reflect on how best to shape our lives as individuals, small groups and a congregation—as Christ honouring expressions of love for the believers and everyone else.

That may sound minor, but as we begin in another location it will be helpful if we are all on the same page and know not only what we are doing but why we are doing it and how it fits into the bigger picture .

The launch team meetings will be held at a time when it is possible for us to share a meal together to facilitate that. Over the meal we can continue to discuss and dream and plan and organise. Hopefully another product of our spending time together will be working out small groups and ministry teams who can partner with each other in 2009.

We’ll manage if you can’t make all the meetings. In fact, I’d be pleasantly surprised if everyone could make it every time. But the benefits of being around will be reaped next year and beyond.

In terms of specific tasks to get on with now, there are a whole range of things that each of us can be doing.

  • praying
  • venue ideas
  • securing a venue
  • identifying equipment required
  • purchasing equipment
  • promoting among non-Christian friends
  • forming groups who will serve in particular ways in our fellowship and in the wider community:
  • small groups
  • setup & pack-up
  • welcoming
  • morning tea
  • book stall
  • music
  • powerpoint
  • web site
  • admin
  • social involvement


The first meeting as a launch team will be on 30th August and we’ll meet every few weeks after that. Please chat with me about whether you’re planning to join the launch team over the next month.


I’ve spoken about the impact that being ‘on mission’ together will have on our churching together. A buzz word at the moment in the wider church scene is the word missional. It has been used to excuse all sorts of things but I think it is a useful word to adopt as we describe our posture as a church, as small groups and as individuals. At each level, we are missionaries.

The question to ask as we consider the various facets of our life together is, ‘How does the fact that we want to be glorifying God in mission and ministry come to bear?’ There are some things that we will do and others which while good in themselves won’t be part of our corporate activity.

That’s the approach I’ve sought to take in the discussions we’ve had and the posts regarding name and meeting time.

Some issues to discuss/ open today, all of which require the missional thought process:


We discussed the name and consensus was that a simple name avoiding too much jargon would be best.

‘southside’ and ‘church’ are most likely in there because that is what we have been calling the plant. We discussed the jargon factor associated with ‘evangelical’ (see next actions below and the name post .)

Core ‘programs’

The core aspects of our fellowship will be active participation in big church and little churches (small groups) and various ways to serve. We’ll also seek to deliberately do life together (informal social aspect).

Mission will be woven through all of that.


While Sunday morning is the default, we should keep the conversation open and of course we may need to be flexible when we find a venue.

There’s a post to help with the discussion.

We’ll pursue small group timing down the track.


As people from a church that meets in a school, the default is to meet in a school if one is available. (Primary schools are good for kids’ chairs and tables etc but it can be difficult to gain access to rooms.)

It’s worth thinking about what other venues could be good options in terms of being welcoming to friends: a cafe or restaurant or pub.

We basically need a venue in which we can grow to a group of 60 or so and preferably includes access to a room where we can do crèche and kidschurch. Keep your eyes open and if you know of any possibilities, let me know!

Target demographic

We’re not so much aiming to reach the people in the immediate area around the location where we end up meeting as seeking to love those who we meet as we live with gospel intentionality (Family, friends, neighbours, colleagues, retail contacts… anyone we come across really!).


There will be some kids around the place and our desire as a church will be to help their parents pastor them. That will have a range of implications.

One aspect is that we want parents to be great theologians and great examples of godliness for their children–both of which are the products of the Spirit’s work as the Scriptures are read and taught and discussed and applied.

A secondary element of our caring for kids in our congregation will most likely be providing church designed for kids during part or all of our main meeting. (To facilitate the parent-child pastoring, I’m keen for us to work at coordinating the kids’ teaching material with the preaching program.)

We may be able to recruit a few people from evening church in St Lucia to help with kidschurch during our meeting. That would, however, be a temporary arrangement and we should consider the implications of beginning in that way. That is, in order to sustain a similar program later, we would need to have a meeting at another time which kidschurch teachers could attend.

Integral to pastoring our kids will be helping them grow as ministers and missionaries:

  • as we meet in their attitude of welcome and consideration of new children and speaking the truth in love to one another.
  • among their peers in school and social settings.


There are a similar range of issues to discuss regarding youth who will be among us.

Next Actions

Join the launch team?

It’s decision time! Plans can change, but if you are planning to be part of the church as we kick off next year, please come and be part of the launch team. Keep talking to me!

The first meeting of the launch team will be on 30th August.


Talk to some friends and ask them what they associate with ‘evangelical church’ and ‘Bible church’ ( this has already been happening ). (As we discussed, we want to be helpful to our friends!)


Keep your eyes open and let me know if you see any good possibilities.


a church by any other name

There are a number of ‘details’ that we need to lock in over the next month. Name is one, meeting time is another. The former is on the agenda because it would be helpful logistically to set up a bank account sooner rather than later. A firm meeting time will make it easier for those who are contemplating partnering in this venture to make the decision. I’ll post separately about the time.

so what name do we go for?

We could start straight into possibilities, but think first about who the name is for. It’s not really for regulars. In my mind I go to ‘church’ on Sunday in submission to Jesus and as an expression of love for those with whom I regularly gather. It doesn’t enter my mind that it’s ‘unichurch’. That is the right description of who I am committed to but I only describe our gathering in St Lucia as unichurch when I need to specify for the benefit of someone else. We need a name which communicates to outsiders—those who google us, those we invite, those who hear about us on the grapevine.

The advertisers’ categories for a good name are that it is descriptive, attractive and (where possible) true. It would be good to tick all three boxes! (I’ve leave it to you to work out our priorities.)

The working name which has developed is a does-what-it-says-on-the-tin name:

southside church.

It says clearly what will happen where.

We could add something to that description:

bible   brisbane   catalyst   christian   community   evangelical   family   fellowship    flock   gathering   gospel   grace   hope   independent   inner.south   love   missional   multicultural   multiplying   network   servant  shelter  student   transformation    uni    united    worker  

But less may be more.

Then again we could go plural. After all, from the beginning we will have big church and little churches (small groups) and will be working towards multiplying both: southside churches.

Or might we try to capture something of what we desire to be in a less obvious name?

I can’t believe it’s not unichurch! …maybe?

Any thoughts?

Please comment or email me.