Gelato Anglicanism

John Sandeman

In the new world of church planting, this pewsitter should have learnt by now not to be surprised by anything.

But had he been sitting on a pew at the time, he would have fallen off it when he discovered that a church plant modelled after London's Holy Trinity, Brompton (HTB), home of the famous Alpha course, can be found in Crows Nest.

But rather than being found inside an Anglican church, it has been planted inside a Baptist church.

If a church that plants another church is called a 'mother church', then the new Northside PM meeting has HTB as its grandmother. This plant comes via one of the many HTB church plants in London, St Paul's, Hammersmith.

The new congregation's pastor, Tim Giovanelli, formerly on the staff of St Paul's Hammersmith, London, a Church of England church, had the vision of planting a St Paul's-type congregation in Sydney.

After 12 months of negotiations between St Paul's, the Baptist Union in NSW and the ACT and Northside Baptist Church, Northside PM was launched in February.

Starting from a team of 30 supporters, the service now draws 90 each week.

"This is not an Anglican Church; it is part of Northside Baptist," explains Sid Grindley, senior pastor of the Crows Nest church.

"This may not have been clear enough at the start; there was some confusion."

Northside PM has the Holy Trinity Brompton style: "the centrality of God's word, openness to the work of the Holy Spirit, and justice and compassion".

Grindley says, "It is a style that will appeal to some and not to others. The response shows that it is scratching where some people are itching."

One of our cheekier Anglican ministers, when invited to stay overnight with the Archbishop for a Connect09 briefing, asked if he had been consulted about the Northside PM plant.

The Pewsitter imagines Archbishop Peter Jensen might be quite pleased not to have been consulted.

The pewsitter also knows of a few other groups planting in Sydney.

One is our recent visitor Mark Driscoll of the US-based Acts 29 network of church planters. Besides delivering a critique of local churches, Mark was open about scouting out the possibility of planting churches here.

The sad fact is that it would take a few thousand more churches for Sydney to have the church-going figures of a mid-western US state, and there are plenty of unbelievers left over in those places.

Like a modern restaurant, the mix and match in the new world of church planting produces new combinations and flavours: Londoners have access to Sydney Anglican-style churches in the Church of England but you can also find the Sydney style in a non-denominational church.

In Victoria, a Vineyard (charismatic) church has repotted itself into an Anglican church.

One of the first lessons of church planting we are all learning is that it brings a new diversity of style and methods.

It is gloriously unpredictable.