I got asked the other day if our church is growing by ‘conversion’ or by ‘transfer’ which is pastor speak for ‘are people becoming Christians or just moving from other churches?’
Well – neither – our growth has been by immigration. Its hardly a ‘strategy’ but it seems that over half of the people who have come to QBC have come from another country. The biggest group by far are the South Africans who seem to flock to the far north of Perth and then of course there are the Brits. I think Aussies are a fairly strong minority in our church community at the moment and that takes a bit of getting used to.
FWIW I have really enjoyed the SA crew and the guys who have joined us have been great value. With the exception of one very bad experience at the start that I have had to work hard to put behind me, we have all got on well.
The different cultural and theological backgrounds have made it interesting as we have realised there are South Africans from a very strict rigid background in church and then those who come from that but are happy to be part of something more casual and relaxed.
If we do anything well at QBC then its being casual and easy going. So it will be interesting to see what the future holds. The old saying ‘a crowd attracts a crowd’ reverbs in my mind and I imagine we may see a larger group of immigrants form the core of the church.
In that I see our role as leaders as being a church that fits this context and is effective in reaching the people who live around us. So ‘where you’re from’ is less important than if you gel with the vibe of the place and want to be about the same things as we are.
This is seems like it would be an interesting change for you. When I first starting reading your blog, your mission field was your neighborhood, and your philosophy that fueled that was to go to where people are – their world. Now your making disciples of people coming from another country (continent, even) to attend your church. I know that’s an overstatement, but it’s still true, and even a little amusing. Still, I would think it’s a bit of a paradigm shift, as your post seems to indicate. It will be interesting to continue to see how God uses you to make disciples of these folks, even as He changes you into the kind of disciple maker He wants you to be for them.
Thanks for continuing to allow us a glimpse into your life in order to allow God to speak to us through your experiences.
You might think that South Africans seem to flock to the far north of Perth but they also flock to the southern suburbs where we are and the eastern suburbs where we used to live. Let’s face it, South Africans are flocking everywhere. 🙂
Not that I mind. We’ve made some very good South African friends, including the wonderful family next door. We’re constantly hearing stories of how beautiful yet how dangerous their country is.
That’s funny about the South Africans migrating to north of Perth. In Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA, there are quite a number of them that have landed here too. Many are computer experts working for the state of Wyoming. They are beautiful, marvelous people. One family attends my church and we have become great friends. It is very sad to hear the stories of the violence that have overtaken their country.