COVID can't stop City on a Hill's Gold Coast church plant

In a year when many organisations are facing closure, City on a Hill is doing the opposite. The new City on a Hill Gold Coast church plant is officially open, with a healthy congregation and big plans for more church plants in the future.

City on a Hill Gold Coast has been in development since mid-2019, but was only officially launched two weeks ago – in a quiet, COVID-safe way.

“Unlike most launches, we didn’t make a heap of noise externally because there’s only so many seats and [building] capacity. It was more to acknowledge that we had grown to the point where we felt we were ready to officially open the doors,” Sam Low, lead pastor of City on a Hill Gold Coast, tells Eternity.

“It was a different kind of launch, but it was a celebration moment for where we’re up to and what we’re praying God will do going forward, as well.”

The church, which meets at Worongary State Primary School, has attracted around 60 people to its Sunday services, with a core membership of around 40 adults. It is City on a Hill’s seventh church and its second in Queensland (a Brisbane plant opened in 2016, and the other five churches are based in Victoria).

Low, an Anglican minister in Sydney for 18 years, moved to the Gold Coast in order to take on the church plant, along with his wife Sally and their two young sons, Bailey and Hudson.

He explains how the Gold Coast church fits into City on a Hill’s broader church-planting “movement”: “We have a vision as a movement of churches to reach ten cities with the gospel, which means planting 50 churches. Our plan is to plant multiple churches in each city. We’re the first plant on the Gold Coast, so it’s a step into a new city.”

The plan is to plant five churches on the Gold Coast, Low says, where there is “plenty of opportunity and need.”

“So from day one, we already have that on our agenda and are praying and thinking about even the people who are coming to us now, how we will raise them up to then release them to other parts of The Coast,” he says.

“In the short term, our big agenda was to just start having services, so it’s been exciting to reach that goal. Now, it’s to connect with as many unchurched people as we possibly can on The Coast.”

“God’s been really good.” – Sam Low

In order to do that, Low says the church will kick off 2021 with a campaign they are calling “The Blitz.”

“It will be something like what a normal launch might have looked like, with lots of online noise and letting as many people as possible know that we are here. Trying to get into the community a bit more to meet people, so that we then get the opportunity to speak the gospel to them.’

While COVID may have pushed back the opening fanfare, it certainly didn’t stop the church from growing. In fact, Low says that online church during lockdown (using the City on a Hill digital platform) helped their numbers to grow.

“It’s a kindness of God in that it keeps us humble to know that he builds his church, even when our plans become redundant and irrelevant.”

“We only had a short season of lockdown here, of around two months. But even in that period, by the time we came back, we had more people than when we went underground. So God’s been really good.

“Church planting can be a high-pressure way to do church, in wondering if it will survive. I think God has used it, at least for us, to remind us that we need to be faithful, but he’s the one who brings growth. And he does it in the moments when we feel like we are being least strategic.”

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Some prayer points to help

City on a Hill suggests three ways that you can support its new Gold Coast church:

1. PRAY – that Jesus is lifted up through City on a Hill and that many people would put their trust in him.

2. TELL – spread the word that there is a new church on the Gold Coast. Tell your friends and family and anyone who lives in the area.

3. GIVE – City on a Hill has a goal of raising $100,000 on top of regular giving to go toward its 10 Cities Church Planting Fund. If you’d like to give, visit cityonahill.com.au/give

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