What could associating with the international congregations that rent our church buildings look like? Jacqui Caetano, Associate Pastor at Epsom Baptist Church, shares the transformation this association brings… 

Many of our Baptist churches rent our buildings to a minority or a migrant church as a great way to boost the church economy and share space. But we don’t associate with one another. I have wondered what associating with one another could look like? 

I discovered that the Holy Spirit was already at work where I was planted as an associate pastor, so in the staff meeting, I suggested becoming one church as part of our Redemptive Family series. One membership role, one people directory, shared gatherings and eating together, shared giving and maintenance, associating and governing with one another at every turn. Although we will continue worship services in our mother tongue, we will be one church in every way. We pledge to work together. 

With no objections, we set a Sunday aside for the Mandarin and English services to join hands and plant fruit trees in the front garden to mark our pledge. The English planted a mandarin tree, and the Mandarin congregation planted a feijoa tree to remind us of our association. 

We as a church have gone from a declining elderly congregation and a growing traditional Mandarin service to multi-generational, intercultural, growing congregations worshipping in our mother tongue. Chinese people cross over to immerse themselves in the English language. Together we take collective responsibility to be a redemptive family in the place God has planted us. We have become a growing organism touching one another as we become more welcoming of one another and more culturally aware as we engage in conversation, often using a translation app.

Photos: Supplied by Jacqui Caetano

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