How ACC is Helping Their Community [Greater Sydney Church Leaders Series] – Hope 103.2

How ACC is Helping Their Community [Greater Sydney Church Leaders Series]

Paul Bartlett is State President of Australian Christian Churches NSW and ACT, and he shared about how ACC has helped its community.

Listen: Hope Afternoon's Ben McEachen chats with ACC State President (NSW and ACT) Paul Bartlett about how they have been helping the community during lockdown

By Ben McEachenWednesday 20 Oct 2021Hope AfternoonsChristian LivingReading Time: 3 minutes

How have our churches been helping local communities during lockdown and what lessons have they been learning? Hope Afternoons has interviewed church leaders across Greater Sydney to find out how God’s people are loving their neighbours, and each Sunday and Wednesday throughout October we are sharing what they had to say.

Paul Bartlett is State President of Australian Christian Churches (ACC) in NSW and the ACT. 

Paul Bartlett is State President of Australian Christian Churches (ACC) in NSW and the ACT

Source: Supplied

Paul, what has your church learned during lockdown?

“‘Crisis is the great accelerator.’ Generally speaking, statistically, church [attendance] has been on the decline over the years.

“For us in the ACC, it’s gone up slightly but most denominations have seen either a decline or plateau.

“So, I think what we’ve learned through COVID is we have had to replace the myth that gathering people together on Sundays is discipleship.

“I don’t think it is.

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“One of the lessons we have learned is you can’t disciple someone in a crowd, you can only disciple them one-on-one.

“You can’t disciple someone in a crowd, you can only disciple them one-on-one,” – Paul Bartlett, Australian Christian Churches

“Discipleship, probably, is best described as somebody watching and listening to another person live out their faith. You don’t get to do that in a crowd.

“For us, during COVID, we have focused heavily on building a discipleship culture versus an ‘event’ culture. In fact, the good news for us is we now can say we have more people in small discipleship groups than we had before attending gatherings on Sunday.”

How has the ACC been helping its community during the pandemic?

“One of the things we are passionate about is community engagement. I think it’s been one of our strengths that we have continued to find innovative ways to connect our community.

“For example, on Thursday nights, we run Lighthouse Community Kitchen. We have typically fed more than 1000 people every Thursday night for over 10 years.

“We have typically fed more than 1000 people every Thursday night for over 10 years,” – Paul Bartlett, Australian Christian Churches

“Obviously, we couldn’t do that. But we turned it into hole-in-the-wall cafe and every Thursday night our guests still can come. We still cook the same quality food – as take away – but there is still engagement and conversation there.

“We realised that, yes, people need to be fed, but what they are really starving for is connection.”

Paul, can you offer us a word of encouragement?

“I’ve been using what I call my ‘lockdown Scripture’. In Philippians 4:11, the apostle Paul basically says: ‘I have been in need and not in need. I’ve had money and not had money’.

“Can I use this paraphrase? ‘I’ve been in lockdown – he was locked up in prison – and not locked down’. And he couldn’t do things he loved to do.

“But Paul says, ‘I have learned the secret of being content’.

“I want to encourage everybody that the apostle Paul says it is possible, despite your circumstances, that you can live content.

“The key is you don’t focus on what you don’t have but focus on what you do have –your family, connections, friends.

“But most importantly Paul ends with this statement: ‘For I can do anything through Christ Jesus who gives me strength’.

“I think Paul learned as long as he has Christ, he can survive, maybe even flourish, in any circumstance and have contentment.

Paul’s prayer

Please, pray with Paul.

Dear God,

I pray that whoever needs your help right now

Would experience your peace, your comfort,

And the kind of hope that is not conditional upon our circumstances.

I pray not only for all Australians but every person across the globe that we may be unified through the difficulties, not divided by them.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen


Feature image: Lighthouse Facebook


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