The body of Christ in Australia is rich in diversity, which means there are plenty of ways that division can creep in. Nonetheless, in 2018 Eternity News reported on several occasions when Christians hurdled (or perhaps pole-vaulted, as the case may be) the walls that have the potential to divide, and gathered with other believers.
This list of gatherings reflect times that Christians united with the aim of reaching the wider community. Some of them are big events and some targeted at niche groups such as artists. Christians come together in other ways such as prayer breakfasts and leadership gatherings – that’s another good list. And then there’s all the beach missions and evangelistic Bible studies…
And the result of all this biblical unity?
Breathtaking. Every. Time.
1. Awakening Australia
The vision of two Aussie pastors, Ben Fitzgerald, director of Awakening Europe (and a former pastor at Bethel) and Daniel Hagen, pastor of Fire Church Ministries in Melbourne, Awakening included a range of speakers: C3 leader Phil Pringle; Life Without Limbs author Nick Vujicic; tennis champion Margaret Court; and Bill Johnson, the senior pastor of US mega-church Bethel.
But our favourite part about Awakening Australia was thousands of attendees flooding the streets of Melbourne in the afternoons to “love on people” and share about Jesus after being encouraged to leave the enclosed venue and put into practice what they’d heard from the stage
Read the full story: From stadium to street: thousands flood Melbourne for Jesus
2. Jesus Loves Australia
The vision of Shane Degan – a man who fully accepts that he may seem crazy to some people – Jesus Loves Australia saw a crowd of devoted Christians gather in ANZ Stadium in Sydney to pray that Australians would be reached and changed by God’s love.
And this is just the beginning! Stay tuned for next year when the group gather at ANZ Stadium again for its big event.
Read the full story: Catch the vision of a stadium full of hearts on fire for Christ
3. Kids Off Nauru prayer vigil
With the news that kids detained in Australia’s immigration offshore detention centre on Nauru were suffering “resignation syndrome” caused by lack of hope, refugee advocates pulled together in a serious campaign to get Kids Off Nauru – and Christians were right in the thick of it. Gathering in prayer vigils across Australia, different denominational leaders led believers in a time of prayer and worship around the issue.
Read the full story: Believers unite for Nauru prayer vigil
4. Micah Australia’s Voices for Justice
Just a couple of weeks ago, more than 200 Christians of all stripes gathered in Canberra to be trained in the art of lobbying politicians, before taking 94 meetings with MPs and/or their staff to ask them to increase Australian aid funding. Quote of the event went to Andrew Broad MP, who reminded the passionate crew that “Australia has a long history of people giving a damn.”
Read the full story: The road to advocacy: hundreds of Christians meet with politicians in Canberra
5. RICE Rally
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d be aware that the RICE movement (Renewal and Inter-Church Evangelism), which began in 2002 under the leadership of Steve Chong, has become an exciting space for raising up high school youth, university students, and young workers through gospel evangelism. This year, RICE rallies attracted thousands of youngsters in Auckland, Melbourne and Sydney, with a unique programme style that combines the musical energy of a Pentecostal praise party with meaty Bible-based teaching by Francis Chan’s message. Watch this space!
Read the full story: The business of saving young souls
6. Grasstree Gatherings
In March this year, almost 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian leaders, accompanied by non-Indigenous friends, met to pray and “reclaim” the site of Captain James Cook’s landing at Kurnell, on the southern shores of Botany Bay – the country of the Gweagal clan of the Dharawal nation. The event was run by the leadership of the Grasstree Gathering, which draws together young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian leaders from across all denominations to be equipped and inspired by their formidable Elders – a worthy ministry for both our prayers and donations!
Read the full story: Indigenous prayer vigil held at site of first contact
7. Hillsong Conference
Hillsong Conference is Australia’s largest annual conference, but did you know that its aim is to “champion the cause of the local church?” As a result, it is attended by people from every denomination, not to mention more than 60 countries.
This year Eternity had a quick chat with Hillsong NYC pastor Carl Lentz and also nabbed a sneaky behind the scenes video where we asked why the army of volunteers are happy to play a tiny part in such a huge event. Their answers were all heart and we were inspired.
Read the full story: Carl Lentz wants you to crush your world
8. Perth Prayer Wall
In March 2017 Wendy Yapp persuaded 130 pastors and ministry leaders to pray for each other and the city for the month. When she repeated the process in October this year, the event expanded to include 147 pastors from a wide range of churches, from Coptic to Pentecostal.
The group, called Perth Together, has been forming a “wall of prayer” around Perth, involving hundreds of people in the spheres of arts, health, church, business, education, family and government.
“We’ve got a list of about 30 groups, and it’s growing every day,” Wendy says. “Prayer is a glue that holds us together and one of the most loving and caring things we can do for one another.”
Read the full story: Wall of prayer wraps around Perth
9. Beyond Festival
Beyond Festival exists to be deliberately different. In the landscape of Christian conferences, Beyond serves “post-church” people and shares its main stage with those who don’t follow Jesus. Promoting justice and firing up against gendered violence, Beyond 2018 featured a host of Australian Christians from every denomination, along with US band The Gungors (whom we interviewed here).
Read the full story: The Christian festival that isn’t: Beyond 2018 is starting a revolution – gently
10. SPARC’s National Gathering
Every year artists from across the breadth of the church gather for SPARC – an initiative of Christian Media & Arts Australia designed to foster a community of Christians creatives to be “an intentional and transformative cultural influence.” Along with beloved performance poet Joel McKerrow, this year’s attendees were inspired by a host of Christian creatives, including US poet/activist/rap artist Propaganda and UNICEF senior photographer Simon Lister.
Read the full story: SPARC encourages art ‘for beauty and for glory’