Planting in Toowoomba — FAQs

It’s with both great excitement and sadness we are announcing that Chris and Jen Gresham-Britt, our Evening Community Pastors, will be finishing their role at Northridge at the end of May, and moving to Queensland to plant a new Vineyard church in the town of Toowoomba.

This announcement was made at the Evening Community service on 20th Feb 2022. A video of the announcement was sent to the Northridge church family on the same day – you can view it here.

Questions for Chris and Jen

Why plant churches?

In the Vineyard, we are passionate about seeing God’s kingdom advancing — in other words, seeing his heavenly future reality breaking into this present age. One of the most powerful ways to partner in this as God’s church is multiplication: disciples making disciples, and churches planting churches.

New churches are not just a way of seeing our Vineyard movement grow, they are also a blessing to other existing churches in the area. What’s more, churches that plant churches typically flourish as a result of the process, even accounting for the loss of the planter or planting couple.

If you think about it, every church that exists is there because someone planted it — our desire is to see God’s kingdom thrive in Toowoomba, our Vineyard movement, and our nation.

You can read a bit more about the ‘why’ of church planting in this great article by Tim Keller.

What does the process of planting look like?

Vineyard Churches Australia has a well-defined process for planting new churches. It typically follows three phases:

Initiative. The fledgeling church begins with a small core team, forming a vision for a new faith community in the chosen area. It partners closely with the sending church for support and encouragement.

Church plant. Once the initiative has grown in size and a community and established its own ministries and small groups, it moves to this phase. At this stage it begins to form its own governance structure, and becomes its own independent entity.

Vineyard Church. The Church plant grows into a fully functional Vineyard church.

You can read more about this process here. We are thrilled that Northridge will be our sending church.

Will the new initiative in Toowoomba be a Vineyard church?

Yes — absolutely yes. Yes. We love the Vineyard expression of following Jesus and earnestly desire to see our movement grow and flourish in Australia. It’s not that we’re the best or the perfect movement, but that we think the Vineyard holds an important piece to the Australian church landscape. We need to bring that piece of the Kingdom as best we can.

Why plant in Toowoomba? What’s the connection?

Looking back, we never would have picked this as a location to plant a church or move our family — God has a funny sense of humour sometimes!

Our main connection to Toowoomba is through our good friends Troy and Nic Roberts, who lead RAW Impact — an organisation Northridge partners with closely. Jen works for RAW, and a number of her colleagues (who are also good friends) have made the decision to move to Toowoomba, giving us an existing friendship network and starting group for the plant.

When we first considered moving there, we did some demographic research and found that it is a rapidly growing regional centre, and would be a good cultural fit for our leadership style. Having now visited the town, we feel it will be a wonderful place to raise our family. There is also a quickly developing coffee culture, which will help it feel like home!

How can I support this new church initiative?

First and foremost, we would love you to pray for us. We have created a WhatsApp group which you can find here. We will send out semi-regular updates as we move and begin the new church.

If you would like to support the initiative financially, we’d so appreciate that. Details are:
Account Name: Giving
BSB: 032-089
Account Number: 301171

Finally, we realise that it IS in Queensland, but if you feel God’s prompting to uproot your life and come join us, we would love to chat!

Has the leadership of Vineyard Churches Australia been involved in this process?

Kirk and Nic Delaney have been aware of our desire to plant from early in the piece. They have been helpful in our discernment process, and are very supportive of a plant in Toowoomba.

Did you consider any locations other than Toowoomba?

We have researched a number of locations in other parts of Sydney, as well as abroad. The decision to plant in Toowoomba came from what we felt was a very strong leading from God.

How will you support yourselves financially as the new church begins?

We have both remained bivocational during our ministry at Northridge and have jobs that will translate easily into our new location. Jen works for RAW Impact (whose office is in Toowoomba), and Chris owns a small media company that can be run from anywhere. These roles will be a helpful start towards financial sustainability. We trust that God will provide the rest as the new church grows towards being able to support us in vocational ministry.

Questions for Rob and Bonnie

What’s next for the Evening Community?

As a community there is a beautiful flavour and culture in the Evening that is there because of the wonderful people in this community.
Over the last five years the Evening community has sent out missionaries and started new initiatives to reach out to the community. We’d love to see this continue, and for this passion to bless the whole church.

As a church, we have gone through a very challenging time with COVID so we’re feeling that it’s really important to come together and consolidate the team and ministries across the church.

Northridge is one church with two communities. As we’ve been praying, we’ve sensed the Lord leading us to rediscover what being one church means - how we can grow together, share resources, start new ministries and plant new churches together. We’re excited about what the future holds for Northridge as we do this.

Who will lead the Evening Community going forward?

At this stage we don’t feel it’s right to appoint new Community Pastors and we will be working with both communities to see where God is wanting to take us as a whole church.

Over the next few months we will work on growing the Evening core team, and working alongside Chris and Jen as they transition leadership to us.

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