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How division helped a church to grow

GracePoint split its focus to better serve local needs

A bi-cultural, multi-site church in Sydney’s inner west has divided its ministry to Chinese and English speakers into two separate, independently-operated churches.

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This is a key reason for the growth of GracePoint Presbyterian, according to lead English Pastor Eugene Hor.

“We’ve adopted different strategies because we recognise that the English speakers have a different culture,” Hor explains.

Hor coordinates four English-speaking services, along with three assistant pastors. GracePoint also has three Chinese-speaking services at the Burwood site – one in Mandarin and two in Cantonese – which have their own pastors.

In reformed evangelical circles and beyond, GracePoint is a model of church-planting success. The church has grown from 130 members to about 1000 in the past 20 years, since being planted by the Chinese Presbyterian Church in Surry Hills, Sydney.

It now has a total of seven services across three sites, including the church premises in Lidcombe and two different locations in Burwood – eight kilometres to the east.

The flexibility of its Chinese/English model has allowed GracePoint to respond to the growing appetite for church community among Chinese migrants, while also catering for the different needs of second-generation Australians.

“It’s hard for East-Asian ministry to stand alone,” says Hor. “A lot of it has to be connected to second-generation ministry, because people come as families.

“In our migrant ministry, we noticed that sometimes people would go to the Chinese-speaking congregation and their kids will go to the English-speaking service. That’s an avenue of growth.”

Hor suggests that, when planting, churches should be looking to areas that are easily accessible by public transport and target people within a 30-minute radius, in order to be “hubs of mission and growth.”

GracePoint is already a regional church, with 60 per cent of the congregation living outside the local area.

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