I still remember vividly the moment last year when I realised something was well and truly wrong. Late in winter in my backyard I was trying to figure out why I was so angry. I’m not normally an angry person, I can think of maybe 3 or 4 times in my life I had been really mad and each time it was easy to know why. This time, it felt like I was mad at everyone but for no good reason. What I did know was it was affecting my whole life; I didn’t feel good anywhere, not at home, not at work, not with friends. So here I was in the backyard trying to find some kind of peace in the midst of my anger, when I caught just the slightest smell of fresh jasmine in the air. Something inside me realised what I couldn’t give words to yet - the season was about to change, something new was coming.
I had been employed at the same church for almost 15 years. Starting out as an intern working with young adults, and later becoming the Youth Pastor. For 18 months I looked after the church while there was no senior leader, and for the past 5 years I had been the Associate Pastor. I love the church and I deeply loved that church we had been part of. The people there had known me half of my life. They had seen me at my best and worst, and loved my family, inviting us into their homes and lives. It was a great place to learn and grow, but over the last few years I had grown increasingly frustrated within myself. What I see now was that I had become so busy doing church, making services and programs happen and getting caught up in the inner workings of an established church, that I’d actually begun to lose sight of the church as a community and as a movement.
I had started to feel like a square peg in a round hole, a place where I had fit so perfectly no longer seemed to fit at all. It was not that I no longer loved these people but rather something new was beginning to happen in me. I think my anger was coming from being caught between the old and the new. I was not able to recognise the change in season. That day in the backyard I’d found it so hard to even think straight or to see a way forward, but when I caught that sweet smell of jasmine signifying the beginning of spring, I heard the quiet whisper of God in my spirit - "something new is about to happen".
Not long after this moment in my backyard, these thoughts and whispers were confirmed as I went through a consultancy process. The process gave words to how I was feeling -it was time to move on. One season was ending and another about to begin. My frustration had come from God preparing me for something new. After much prayer and seeking wisdom, we decided to trust God and take a step of faith. To follow a call we'd felt for many years, but been too invested where we were to listen to or follow - to begin to start a new church. We began the very hard process of extracting ourselves from one church community in order to start another.
So here we are almost a year later - about to enter into the new season. What is that season? We are calling it The Church Project. It’s not a church yet, though I believe it will become one. For me, The Church Project is an opportunity to start the new season well and to take the time to discover what a new church could look like. It’s a chance to engage with people, to begin a movement that shares the love and hope of Jesus Christ with a new community that’s growing in the South West of Sydney. It’s an invitation to people to join us on this journey of becoming a community centred around Jesus. To share their hopes and hurts when it comes to the church. To make new friendships and strengthen old ones. To share the gospel - the Good News of Jesus Christ and His love for everyone.
An opportunity to be the church rather than just do church, and enter into a new season.