Five thousand people gathered at the newly built International Convention Centre in Sydney’s Darling Harbour this week for C3’s annual Presence Conference.

Now in it’s 13th year, Presence is a chance for the C3 family of churches – which now numbers over 450 churches in a staggering 64 countries – to gather together and encourage one another.

Founded by Phil and Chris Pringle in Sydney in 1980, C3 is a global movement of Pentecostal Churches. If overseas numbers are taken into account, C3 is one of Australia’s fastest-growing churches, and is on track to meet its vision of 1000 local churches planted by the year 2020.

Guest speakers at Presence this year included Steven Furtick (founder and lead pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and a New York Times bestselling author); Martin Smith (Grammy Award winning songwriter, producer and worship leader) and Lisa Bevere (bestselling author, speaker and co-founder of Messenger International).

“Good pastoring leads people to feed themselves.”- Josh Kelsey

This year, Presence launched 15 masterclasses covering a wide range of topics for people from all walks of life – everything from becoming a better communicator to healthy family life, money matters, and women in leadership.

At Tuesday morning’s masterclass on church planting, founder of C3 Church in Brooklyn, New York, Josh Kelsey described his vision for what he called a dinner party church.

“Our vision will always be to be a dinner party church – meaning, our vision is to have a dinner party on every block. Our vision is not to have a big service. I believe big services are very easy when you have a great community. Sundays should look after themselves if we have momentum around the table.”

“We need to count so that we know where the people are.” – Josh Kelsey

Kelsey and his wife Georgie planted C3 Brooklyn in 2013. Every Wednesday night, their church runs “Dinner Parties” across New York City. Each dinner party is run by a team of four leaders so that if a particular leader can’t attend, the dinner party will still go ahead, and this helps build weekly momentum.

Teaching from the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15, Kelsey shared principles for building a church with momentum.

“Good pastoring leads people to feed themselves,” said Kelsey.

“In the parable, the shepherd leaves his 99 sheep to go after one lost sheep. But if pastors and leaders do not do a good job of looking after the 99, they can’t leave them to go after the lost one,” Kelsey said.

He added that just as the shepherd knew the sheep was lost because he had counted his sheep, his leaders always count and report the attendance of the weekly dinner parties.

“In the Western world we have an avoidance of counting numbers, but we need to count so that we know where the people are,” Kelsey said.

And when the shepherd found the “one”, said Kelsey, he rejoiced. So at the Dinner Parties it is important for leaders to create a party atmosphere to celebrate each lost one being found, he said.

Kelsey went on to talk about the inevitable modern day persecution which will come, and said that the church has to have a model that won’t be destroyed by persecution.

“Only a big meeting model will fall apart if we don’t have strong family and community that can go underground and still grow at the same time.”

He said that he’s not against big services, because we have to have them, “but we have to have both.”

C3 hopes to plant another 550 churches globally by the year 2020.

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