A day in the life of a . . . church planter

Pastor Daniel Christie.

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Name: Daniel Christie
Job: Lead pastor, The Vine
Where: Tweed Heads, NSW

What do you do?

I work as a church planter for the North New South Wales (NNSW) Conference. My wife and I are beginning our third year at The Vine Seventh-day Adventist Church.

What led you to this ministry?

I’d worked in several church plants through the Greater Sydney Conference, so I was exposed to church planting, and caught the “spark” and vision for this ministry. So, when the call came from the NNSW Conference to plant a church in the Tweed Heads region, it was my first opportunity to head up a church plant and I was very excited about the challenge.

What qualifications do you need?

Apart from a passion for Jesus, one of the key terms often used is an “entrepreneurial” characteristic. Church planting is so ambiguous: no matter how much you know about theology or ministry, every church plant and the group you have will be different, so you have to possess an attitude to creatively deal with each obstacle that comes your way. Church planting can be very difficult, especially in the first few years, so being steadfast and having an ability to endure is essential. [pullquote]

What’s a typical day for you?

My day is focused on “empowerment”. I think any church planter’s role is to disciple and train, so I’m constantly looking at how I can create an environment—both for individuals and as a collective church—to empower people to their full potential.

Biggest lesson you’ve learned?

I’m not an organised person by nature, I come from an evangelistic background—for me it’s all about soul winning. So I’ve had to learn a lot about structures and organisation in churches, because it’s a big component of ministry. You can grow as a church but if you don’t have structures in place to support growth, you’ll have challenges in that area. It has been a great learning experience

Favourite thing about your job?

The best thing, and what makes me happy as a minister, is making disciples. For me, it’s not about baptisms—that’s great—but I measure my successes in seeing people come to their full potential in Christ. That, to me, is a win, and I believe church growth will come as a result of that. We’ve had people who were drug addicts or have come out of prison who are now leading Bible studies, preaching and realising God has a plan for their life. It’s really exciting to see that happen.

Is there anything special about the way you do church?

We don’t place a high priority on programs in the sense of traditional seminars. Now, evangelism is my background, so I love it! But what we find works in our church, especially as we have a limited budget, is this: I ask all my team members what they enjoy doing, and then tell them to go out and meet people who like doing the same thing. Some of the Bible workers now have surfing groups or philosophy groups—whatever they’re passionate about, they will find people who are like-minded. My wife and I are passionate about health, so as a church we’ve tried to focus and educate people on that. The young adults love camping and getting out into the wilderness, so that’s another activity they’re able to meet people through. Basically, anything where relationships can develop is evangelism to us. We keep it simple, cost effective and just create a consistent environment for relationships. 

Any advice for future church planters?

If you’re thinking of planting a church, surround yourself with people who have been there or are currently there. There’s no “perfect time” to plant a church, but as you go in, prepare yourself as much as you can, have a mentor, have people around you who you can talk to along the journey, because having those people who have been there and know what you’re talking about is priceless. They can understand what you’re going through and can give you really great advice.

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