Blake Hatton, one of our affiliated church planters, leads a team which is starting Bondi Beach Church Plant, a new church of Bondi Anglican. Together with his wife Sarah, they want the good news about Jesus made known at Bondi Beach. Blake recently shared with us about this new project, the community they're reaching out to, and their hopes for the future.
How did the church plant come about?
It really feels like the gospel is on low here at the beach. At least publicly, there isn't much here. With that in mind, I set out asking all my Christian friends and contacts to come help start something here. Everyone thought it was great but were tied up serving God elsewhere. We ended up with just a tiny team but then as soon as we began to meet, locals started coming out of the woodwork. One of my prayer partners commented, "you've bust your gut inviting people to move house to Bondi and got no one and now God is sorting you out with local Christians". So that was fun. Also, in the background, our senior minister is a champion. He has done a whole bunch of hard work and rallying to give us the opportunity to plant at the beach. Having planted fruitfully in the past, I think he knows the kind of challenges that a plant faces and so has gone and done his best to take out a bunch of these challenges from the get go.
Give us a description of the character of the community you’re reaching out to. What are some of the challenges involved in reaching out to this community?
Bondi Beach is super mixed, obviously backpackers but then locals who've been here since the 50s, Brits and Zealanders here to work for 3 or so years, then there are young creative professionals, housing commission, the rich and the famous and the just rich. We are trying to focus on locals who are planning to stay for more than 5 years so that we'll have a sustainable church in 5 years time, at which point, God willing, we can start reaching all the people who pass through Bondi as well.
Bondi Beach is super multi cultural but not like the other parts of Sydney. We have few Asian and Middle Eastern neighbours but a bunch of German, Dutch, American, Irish, English and Scandinavian people. So Caucasian but not from around here.
Related to this, I reckon Bondi Beach is several years ahead of the Sydney culture and so if Sydney is post-Christian, then Bondi Beach is leading the charge. This means people are spiritual but not religious. Most aren't going to check out church off their own bat. We need to find ways to engage that. We think it will involve being on the ground together in the community, actually asking everyone we get into contact with if they would like to hear the good news and having gospel gathering that really engage you and enliven you for your week.
What are your hopes for the future?
Our hope for the future is to grow into a church full of people, engaging with Jesus and being changed for good. To do this, the team are meeting on Sundays to develop our site, our plan and our team.
In terms of the site: We've been set apart for this project by Bondi Anglican and part of that is having a great space down here near the beach. But it isn't in good condition and so we're slowly working away painting, growing flowers, patching holes in the walls, resurfacing stuff so that we'll have a good space where we can enjoy the gospel together.
In terms of a plan: We're thinking hard about how to engage the beach area with Jesus. We're in the process of 1) describing and naming the demographics, 2) building that into a worldview, 3) noticing how that worldview intersects with the gospel as well as goes against it, 4) translating those observations into culturally helpful forms of evangelism and discipleship.
In terms of people: We're not public yet, but we're inviting locals who church far away or locals who are Christians but haven't landed anywhere to join us. We need to get to a size where we could sustainably work together as a gospel community. That means a number of certain gifts and abilities but also spiritual maturity. And so as well as renovating our site and making plans, we have bible talks and gospel fellowship.
As soon as we have developed the site, the plan and the team (in numbers and spiritual maturity) we'll open publicly.
How can we be praying for you?
We want to move our contacts along a pathway toward Jesus: 1) interact with our church community, 2) hear and respond to the gospel, 3) partner with our gospel community, 4) get grown by the gospel. Interestingly, we have a fair bit of the first step. One of the benefits of being set aside by an existing parish is that you start with connections in the local community. SRE, kids club, toddlers groups etc. So we actually have some good connections in the area. We also have a great team who are Bondi Beach locals, God already has them connected in Bondi Beach. The change is to move our contacts along to hear the gospel and then, invite new Christians to partner with us in the ministry.
- Thank God for the connection he has already given us
- Ask God to grant people repentance and faith as we lay out the gospel
- Ask God to grow the new Christians to partner with us in the plant
Find out more about Bondi Beach Church plant on their website: