What is IMAGINE now?


Nigel Chapman, 10 Jan 2015 

In starting up IMAGINE for the year, it’s important to state what’s happening and what you can expect in 2015. This is that statement. Most importantly:

  • Imagine is a home groups based urban church. 
  • We do not now require a building or a minister in order to function. 
  • Otherwise we’re the same as before. 

In a few days I’ll post about our home groups and how they work. They restart next Wednesday, 21 January (see ‘Start of Year Dates’, above). For now, though, what let me ask what the changes from the past year mean for us.

What We Are

Defining Surry Hills Baptist Church in 2015:

  • This is an urban home-groups based church in Surry Hills and Darlinghurst.
  • Our essentials are worship, education, community, and personal and collective growth. We do other things, but this is the core. 
  • Ministry is through: home groups, web tools (email groupswiki), structured courses, and special projects. 
  • Community is built up by: regular social events, and occasional special events, including weekends away.

What We’re About

These are the things that stand out to me, and which I’ll be especially working on. But IMAGINE has usually meant different things to different people, and being now voluntarist in nature, I see this diversity increasing in a very healthy way.

  • Being deeply joyful about God.
  • Being authentically Christian: built on Scripture, Gospel, experience of God.
  • Being self-critical and revisable in faith.
  • Having openness and integrity in life, thought, and relationships; being faithful, loving, connected and living ans authentic (not hypocritical) life.
  • Being in a serious conversation with atheism, sexuality, social needs, and other churches.
  • Being a part of our local, inner-city community.
  • Meeting unmet needs in church and community.

What We Need to Do

Our home groups cover education, community and personal growth extremely effectively. So our basics are strong. However, we need to get the following things happening…

  • We need to add some worship — both experiential connection with God, and opportunities for service, community aid and justice.
  • We need to find reliably available venues in the area for get-togethers and special events.
  • We need regular social events as a means for people to meet us when they’re not comfortable coming straight to a home group.
  • We need to buff up our finances in order to have enough money on hand for deposits when arranging weekends away or A Different Conversation. That means about $2k sitting in the bank consistently; this should meet all our needs for the year; we don’t have other significant expenses in our current structure.

Change and Continuity in IMAGINE

How does our current structure relate to what we have been and done in the past?

  • We now have:
    • No building — We now meet in homes and urban public spaces.
    • No paid roles — Ministry is now voluntarist, with no attenders, only participants. All projects are run by self-directed teams were desire and ability exist.
    • Otherwise, we’re the same as before.
  • The question of whether to continue is raised by our recent history.
    • Old IMAGINE is gone and is not coming back; it was organised completely around having specific ministry resources (use of and income from 182 Campbell St; a minister paid by the businesses we set up there, a funky restaurant and bar, and so on).
    • We have lost most of those resources (mainly building and active leadership) through conflict with other organisations, due in some respects to our LGBT advocacy.
  • Reasons for continuing:
    • If losing resources could stop us from being a church, it means we weren’t one.
    • We set out to reconcile LGBT and biblical faith. We appear to be unique in having done so successfully, and are in a uniquely strong position to move forward with urban ministry on this basis.
    • We haven’t otherwise finished planting an effective and viable church for future generations.

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