The Baptist Churches of NSW and ACT are committed to the vision of Gen1k, 1000 healthy churches by 2050. One way this can be achieved is through church planting, as well as caring for already established churches.
To assist with reaching this vision, Jamie Freeman was appointed to the role of Church Planting Facilitator. Jamie is experienced in church planting, as he planted H3O Church in the Northern Beaches, among his other cast ministry experience.
Together chatted with Jamie about his new role, family and his direction for the future.
Jamie, tell us about how you became a Christian and who are some people who helped you on your Christian journey.
I grew up in a Christian family, so my parents have always played quite an instrumental role in my faith journey. From a young age God’s love and victory through Jesus were familiar to me, but it wasn’t until this was tested “in the field” of high school that I had to wrestle with what that actually meant for my life.
This experience, and the blessing of growing up in a healthy church with a big kingdom vision, was a formative part of my faith journey and later call to vocational ministry. Our church had a close partnership with Soul Survivor and the nurturing I experienced from these two groups, through the friendship of Matt Gelding and Mike Pilavachi, provided many of those “ah-ha” discipleship moments.
Who is in your immediate family?
My wife Ainsley and I met when I began working for Gymea Baptist Church. She was my boss’s daughter, which is potentially a career limiting move, but if successful it brings good job security. We also served on staff together at GBC and love working as a team.
In 2009 we were married and then I brought her home to the Northern Beaches in 2011 to start H3O Church. A couple of years later Levi joined our family, followed by August in April this year – confusing, I know!
We love the people and place of Dee Why, and find great joy in being able to do life in this beach side community. Planting H3O as a family was the most challenging and joy-filled experience of our lives so far. God has been kind to us and our kids in that our church really is a family on mission together – in all its messiness, grace and beauty.
Congratulations on your new role with the Baptist Association. What does the role of Church Planting Facilitator look like, and how can you support churches and pastors in NSW & ACT?
This month I step into my new role serving as the Church Planting Facilitator with our Baptist family of churches. I have big shoes to fill and have personally experienced the blessing of Steve’s (Steve Bartlett) leadership in this area. Initially I will be part-time as I transition out of my current role with H3O Church.
I’m excited to work with our churches and leaders in the area of planting new faith communities as part of our Gen1K vision to see 1000 healthy churches in a generation. This will involve collaborating with individuals, churches and regions to pray and think strategically about where, how and what pioneering could look like in their context. It will also mean overseeing the support and accountability structures to help us get there.
Hugh Halter has this great quote: “Missional is going. Incarnational is how we go.” We follow the sent and sending God who “moved into the neighborhood”. I’m excited that my role is to help see this happen in NSW and the ACT, as we reach into new communities and subcultures, witnessing with word, sign and deed, and gathering those who respond into community.
Sounds like some very exciting and challenging times ahead. How did you come to apply for this role?
To be honest it was a God thing because I wasn’t looking for a new role. H3O was in a transitional period. We had planted and grown a great core. We were established and affiliated with the Baptist Association. God had been preparing us for the next phase of life on mission together.
I had been blessed by the support and accountability of NewStart and Steve Bartlett personally, so when he asked me to consider applying for the role it planted a seed. A number of people subsequently suggested that it would be a good fit – perhaps too many to ignore. So after praying about it with Ainsley, we thought that it would be wise to set up a discernment group. This included people from our leadership team and church community, but also some outside voices. We knew it would have to be obvious and from God if we were to shift my role with H3O.
Throughout the process there was a strong sense that I should apply for the role. And after further discernment during the interview and selection process I was appointed.
You’ve mentioned a little bit of what you have done prior to this role. Can you tell us what you have done ministry wise?
When I finished high school I had the privilege of interning with Soul Survivor Ministries in the UK. During this time God cultivated a real heart for the local church, and a deep desire to resource her. When I returned to Australia I continued to serve with Soul Survivor and also took up the position of Student Minister at the Anglican Church I grew up in. Then in 2007, while I was studying at Morling, I joined the staff team at Gymea Baptist Church in the area of worship and music.
Since my time in the UK, mobilising new communities and expressions of church had been bubbling beneath the surface. And it was in partnership with Gymea Baptist Church, NewStart and the launch team that we started H3O Church in Dee Why. And this is where I’ve been serving for the last 5 years as the Founding and Lead Pastor.
Looking forward, how do you see your new role developing over the next few years?
It feels like quite an exciting time within our movement. There is a real sense of celebrating the past and building for the future. Just this month we celebrated 100 years of Morling College and Ken Clendinning’s inspiring and fruitful ministry. And on the same weekend Steve Bartlett shared passionately about our future directions and we saw 15 new accredited ministers. It’s a stirring time to step into this role.
I’m looking forward to seeing regional hubs continue to develop and new churches birthed out of a shared vision of what God is doing in a particular area or people group. This will mean we need to be creative and incarnational across urban, suburban and rural contexts – living out our values of Christ centred, mission shaped, and partnership oriented.
Continuing to refine and develop our processes so that they are scaleable and produce healthy leaders, plants and churches will be an important aspect of the role in the coming years too.
What are some ways that you maintain your faith in everyday life.
I’ve always valued reading the bible, prayer and doing faith in community – mentoring, prayer partners, church involvement etc. Since doing a subject on Christian Spirituality at Morling I’ve rediscovered the vast array of spiritual disciplines – or “soul training” as James Bryan Smith calls them. Practising solitude, silence, simplicity, and service (to name a few), have really transformed my relationship with God and others. I feel further equipped to “walk in the Spirit”. These haven’t replaced my existing practices, but certainly enhance them.
What are some bible verses and characters that inspire you in your work commitments and family life?
I’m always struck by the person of Jesus, which I know is the Sunday school answer. I love reflecting on his interactions with God and others, which epitomises my favourite verse Mark 12:30-31. This is why we called our church “H3O” – head on, heart on, hands on when it comes to connecting with God, His mission and the people and world He has created.
What are some of the challenges that you find in your work?
It’s probably too soon to tell. At the moment the greatest challenge is juggling the two part-time roles – desiring to finish well and start well, simultaneously.
How can the readers be praying for you in your new role?
I would love prayer for my family as we make the transition from local ministry. The travel and commitments away from home will be a significant shift, especially with young children. We still have a real heart for Dee Why and commitment to loving our neighbours, so prayer for wisdom in how to do this in new and meaningful ways would be great.
Pray that I am able to learn quickly and develop impacting partnerships that move us towards God’s vision of a 1000 healthy churches.
Pray for discernment as I prioritize competing demands or agendas – that like Jesus I will have a real awareness of what God is doing and follow closely in His slipstream.
How can people find out more about church planting if they are interested in finding out more?
If people would like to find out more about church planting they can contact me via email firstname.lastname@example.org or through the BMC office. We also have some great resources on our website (www.nswactbaptists.org.au) and Together Magazine (www.togethermagazine.com.au).