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Macquarie Fields community gathers to 'grow and go'

 Macquarie Fields community gathers to 'grow and go'

Macquarie Fields community gathers to 'grow and go'

The Salvation Army’s Macquarie Fields Mission in Sydney’s south-west has launched a Sunday Community Tables gathering, aimed at mobilising Salvos to make disciples.

By Lauren Martin

The Salvation Army’s Macquarie Fields Mission in Sydney’s south-west has launched a Sunday Community Tables gathering, aimed at mobilising Salvos to make disciples.

For the past two years, Captains Beth and Christian White, who are the Mission Leaders at Macquarie Fields, have been creating faith pathways through a multitude of ministries and services that run throughout the week.

“We get 1000 people through here every week,”says Captain Christian White. The Salvos partner with other organisations to provide fitness classes, educational training, welfare services and also run a Salvation Army family store and low-cost grocery service, Bible studies and a coffee shop.

The Sunday service was not so much a launch of church for The Salvation Army in Macquarie Fields, but a “gathering of the church”that already meets throughout the week.

“The church is already here,”says Captain White. “We’re just assembling them.”

The Whites say they have a specific purpose to that assembly. Their Sunday afternoon gathering is centred around tables –each group at each table being taught how to create a missional community centred around a table within their own homes, or in environments that relate to them. It is based on the NSW/ACT model of “Community Tables” being an authentic expression of church that consists of a regular meeting of two to 12 people who gather to have conversations about life, faith, and ways to work together to serve others.*

“We’re encouraging people to start this in their homes –the same that we did [on Sunday] –at their table. It’s launching a home church model, but asking people to come back and gather with us every second week to share their stories,”Captain White says.

“What we did [on Sunday] was so simple and I broke it down so that literally, with a cup of coffee and a conversation and a prayer, they can have Community Tables in their own spaces, [with their own friends or family]. So, I’m encouraging the church to go and be the church ... and it’s not just about assembling here on Sunday. I really believe that we’re going to multiply.”

With church attendances in Australia in decline, Captain White believes that a different way of “being church” is needed, without compromising on God’s word and design. He says that the organic or “home church” model, with regular whole of church gatherings for teaching, is something that will resonate more with people’s busy lifestyles. And, he says, it’s actually quite close to Salvation Army founder William Booth’s original model of soldiership meetings where soldiers were trained to “go out into battle”.

“You gather to grow and go,”he says. “You gather and you grow in fellowship, you grow in teaching, you grow in unity and grow together. The Army was based on that. It was about gathering the troops, about teaching them how to fight, skilling them up, refilling them like a petrol station. Refilling them and then going, [or “sending them out”]. The petrol station isn’t the destination –it’s a part of the journey. 

“Sunday isn’t the destination, it’s just to equip us for the week and that’s what I’m trying to help people to see. Go beyond Sunday! Get over Sunday, you don’t go to church, you are the church every day!”

* Learn more about Community Tables and the NSW/ACT Hope Rising plan

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