More than 90 people attended the first two-day SENT Conference at Our Saviour Lutheran Church Rochedale, in Queensland, earlier this month to learn that God is calling us to have hearts to ‘go and make disciples’.
Organised by the LCA’s New and Renewing Churches department, the conference brought together lay people and pastors interested in church planting and evangelism and those who simply wished to explore what it looks and feels like to be sent in mission.
Evangelists Nathan and Yvette Hedt, who are church planters in Pakenham Victoria, shared their stories, including that their journey has not always been easy and that God has used suffering to enable them to connect with those in the community with struggles of their own.
US-based poet and musician Steve Scott helped participants explore John’s gospel as a basis for creativity. He challenged us to see the arts not merely as a pleasant addition to our missionary activity, but as integral to our expression of our faith. He posed that the arts should challenge our society and gave examples of how Jesus uses creativity by taking the ordinary (such as water) and the traditional (like stone jars) and uses the context (a local wedding) to reveal an alternate preferred future.
Chris and Emma Podlich, from ‘Beyond’ in Murrumba Downs Queensland, helped conference-goers with ideas for engaging with people who are ‘de-churched’ (those who previously went to church), and the ‘unchurched’, who may know little or nothing about Jesus. The Podlichs started Beyond with the aim to create a church that unchurched people love to attend.
They spoke of the importance of evaluating what they do by asking newcomers for one change they could make to better engage with their friends and for anything that doesn’t make sense to them. Such questions help shape their church so that, like Paul, they ‘have become all things to all people, so that by all possible means I might save some’ (1 Corinthians 9: 22).
Other speakers were LCA Church Planting Mentor/Mission Facilitator Dean Eaton, South Australia/Northern Territory District Mission Director Steen Olsen and Rochedale’s Pastor Robin Stelzer.
A further SENT Conference was held in Adelaide, with two shorter SENT events staged in Sydney and Melbourne.