Planting churches in 2020

Planting churches in 2020

A new webinar series from the United Methodist Church explores the concept of digital church planting. Thanks to a partnership between the Assembly, Synods, and Presbyteries, Australians can view the series at a greatly reduced price.

Rev. Dr Amelia Koh Butler is responsible for organising an ‘UnderParty’ about Digital Church Planting – an Australian Watchparty for six webinars from the Uniting Church’s sister church, the United Methodist Church in the USA and Canada.

She told Insights that the event stems from what the year’s events have taught church planters.

“Twenty-twenty changed how we understood ourselves, the world and how we go about being and doing church,” Rev. Dr Koh Butler said.

“We are realising we are growing into a different life: one we were not really ready for. We knew technology was changing things, but most of us got thrown into huge life changes and we haven’t really had much of a chance yet to learn together with confidence about how we are developing. I sensed a need to learn from others, even while I am fumbling around trying to get my online relationships in some form of order.”


In addition, Rev. Dr Koh Butler is organising Australian-based facilitated conversation small groups, so participants can contextualise the content, “and see what is helpful and what doesn’t apply as much here.”

Participants will engage in a one-hour conversation after each two-hours of webinar. Organisers will also provide digital bundles of resources and links, with annotations so people can find relevant resources quickly and efficiently.

As a result of a collaboration between the Assembly, Synods, and Presbyteries, Australians who register can register to participate for AU$25 (instead of the usual US price of $200).

“I sought some sponsorship to recoup my costs in buying the rights to use the materials. I suggested Assembly, Synod and Presbyteries partnered as a form of national collaboration,” Rev. Dr Koh Butler said.

“It would have cost any one of them more than I have asked for to register one of their staff for the series, so it was a pretty good deal. They were willing and encouraging. I have felt pretty well supported to take initiative rather than waiting for someone to do something.”

“I suggested to them that in addition to the webinar materials, we try to get some Open Space and input from participants in the Uniting Church about what we can do where we are.”

“I will collate a report for the partners at the end and we will all get a chance to speak into how Church Planting and Digital Ministry is evolving here and what we need from the various Councils and resourcing bodies. This is very much a grass-roots thing and gives practitioners a chance to speak out of our experience. We can say how applicable ideas are and say what we have tried. We can provide reality checks back to the Presbyteries, Synods, and Assembly.”

“I have already viewed (live at 4 am on Wednesdays) the first six hours of the webinar and I am already feeling more confident and trying out new things digitally (despite my sleep deprivation). I’m looking forward to the conversations with other Australians as we try to navigate ways of doing things differently. It is already making a difference in how I provide materials and develop resources in my Placement with Parramatta Mission. Much of what I am learning could be applicable in any ministry context, so I will be interested to see what other people come up with.”

The Six Session Outlines

  • Session one: Part one
    The theological foundations and contextual applications of digital church planting  – Elaine Heath
  • Session one: Part two
    How to meet people online and deepen relationships – Luke Edwards
  • Session two: Part one 
    Nuts and Bolts of Social Media – Amanda Moore 
  • Session two: Part two 
    Social Media Ministry – Nona Jones    
  • Session three: Part one
    Online Worship Do’s and Don’ts – Jason Moore
  • Session three: Part two
    External Revenue Streams/Entrepreneurial Church Planting and Multi-ethnic planting – Mark DeYmaz
  • Session four: Part one
    Online Discipleship Options and Platforms – Tony Arnold 
  • Session four: Part two
    Effective Online Communication – Jasper Peters
  • Session five: Part one
    Creating a budget (initial and ongoing budget and online giving best practices) for an online church – Ken Sloan  
  • Session five: Part two
    Creating an Online Kids’ Ministry – Christine Hides
  • Session six 
    Training house church leaders – Bill Cochenour

Live dates and times in Australia

WEEKLY (7 October-7 November)

  • Option 1: 5 x Wednesday Afternoons from 7 October (12.45-4.45pm) 
  • Option 2: 5 x Wednesday Evenings from 7 October (4.30pm-8.30pm)

Open Space Event – Saturday 7 November (9-4pm)
Participants will have the option to watch the Input Sessions in advance or join the Watchparty in community. (The times above include the Watchparties – you will get full details closer to the date).

Compressed Conference Option (4-7 November)
Wednesday 4 November 10am-4.45pm
Thursday 5 November 10am-4.45pm
Friday 6 November 10am-1pm 
Open Space Event – Saturday 7 November  

Participants will also get links to all the Input Sessions in advance (The times above include the Watchparties – participants will get full details closer to the date).

Both options encourage participation in a common final day on Saturday 7 November.

  • 9am Watchparty
  • 11.30am Facilitated Discussion on Session 6
  • 1pm-3pm Facilitated Open Space – development of Action plans
  • 3-3.45 Cuppa, Feedback and Polls
  • 3.45-4pm Closing Prayers/Blessing

To register, visit the Eventbrite page here.

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