John Lamerton is a consultant who helps churches find ways to address issues in their ministry and realise their potential. His more recent experiences helping Uniting Church congregations have seen a number of them try new things as part of the Synod’s wider growth agenda.
“My background is mostly non-profit leadership, business development, and project management,” he said.
“Since late 2019 I have been an independent consultant helping faith-based initiatives scale and grow. This usually involves understanding my clients’ challenges or barriers for growth and developing strategies or plans to overcome these and I have a passion for God’s kingdom growing, so am keen to use whatever skills or knowledge I’ve gained along the way for those purposes.”
Over the past year, a number of these clients have included Uniting Churches from across the Synod of NSW and ACT.
“In 2020, the Sydney Central Coast Presbytery’s Growth and Mission Minister, Rev. Fiona Blair, invited me to help facilitate the New Growth Course alongside herself and Rev. Martin Levine. This is a church planting course adapted with permission from the Centre for Church Multiplication in the UK.”
“We had eight teams take part over seven weeks in September to October last year and six of those have now started new ministries or launched new congregations.”
These congregations include Manly, Terrigal, Tuggerah Lake South, Gordon-Pymble, Beecroft-Pennant Hills, and Woollahra. There is one more in-development in the George’s River Presbytery.
“It is so exciting seeing congregations which were previously stuck or lacking self-belief, come alive and renew their vision and confidence in what God can do. God can do a great deal with a little.”
“Each new ministry we’ve seen sprout up is unique and is seeing growth in its own ways, sometimes, it’s improved community engagement, sometimes it’s faith commitments like baptisms, and in some instances, its numerical growth.”
“One congregation recently told me they had seen 17 new families join them over the past six months and another grew from 12 to 60 worshippers in eight months.”
During his time working with churches, Mr Lamerton says that he has noticed a few commonalities.
“The common trait I’ve noticed most is the underlying passion within our leaders (ordained and lay) who are eager to get on with the mission of God and try new things,” he said.
“Unfortunately, there seems to be a variety of things holding us back and we need to find ways of removing those barriers if we’re going to see even wider growth.”
Mr Lamerton said he hopes to share some of his experiences with a wider audience through the New Growth course again, should circumstances allow for in-person gatherings to resume.
“We are hoping to run the New Growth Course again after lockdown, hopefully October to November,” he said.
“It’d be great to have more teams join us and explore the growth journey!”