STORY: GRASSLANDS CHURCH PLANT
In March this year, Inner West Church in Melbourne, itself a ‘plant’ out of St. Jude’s Carlton, sent out Jon Tran with a team to establish Grasslands Church in Cairnlea. Pete Greenwood, Lead Pastor of Inner West Church, shares the story…
In 2016, Jon, Blessy, Joel, and Micah moved to Cairnlea, a suburb in Melbourne’s West. Their lives had always revolved around this area, and they felt a deep connection to the community. Over time, they developed a burden for their neighbourhood, sensing that God had a purpose for them there.
Seeking guidance, Jon and Blessy discerned a calling to lead a church of missional communities. With Vietnamese and Filipino backgrounds, hospitality and community were fundamental to their family’s cultural values, and, they soon realised, would be fundamental to the church community of which they longed to be a part. They understood that God had made them family, disciples, and missionaries, shaping their mission and ministry approach.
In 2018, their family found a place with us at Inner West Church. I have always believed that church planting starts with a planter who has a love for a neighbourhood. Recognising that in Jon and Blessy, I invited them to journey with us with the promise that we would do all we could to support them, resource them and send them out on this new mission.
After some time, learning about MC life within my own MC, we sent them to start their own in Cairnlea. They learned to support one another, share joys and burdens, and demonstrate practical love and care. As disciples of Jesus, they incorporated Scripture, prayer, worship, and Sabbath into their shared rhythms of life, growing in Christlikeness. Recognising their role as missionaries, they discerned where God was at work in their context and how they could demonstrate and declare the Gospel through their actions.
Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the missional community thrived. They formed strong bonds, with most members living within close proximity to one another. They engaged in various activities, such as going for walks, playdates, meeting at playgrounds, and sharing meals. They also reached out to the wider community, praying together, and sharing the hope they found in Jesus.
All of this was tiling the soil for the seed of a new church. As time went on, the missional community began connecting with individuals from surrounding neighbourhoods, expanding their reach. They established connections in St Albans and other surrounding areas, forging partnerships with those interested in joining their mission. The upcoming development near Cairnlea presented an opportunity to engage with new residents and advocate for a spiritually profitable environment alongside cultural and social benefits.
At Easter this year we celebrated the new life that Jesus offers, and the new life of what is now called Grasslands Church. It has been years in the making, but we believe not one day was wasted in God’s providence. We are starting small, but strong, with a great foundation of gospel fluency, love in community and commitment to the mission of Jesus.
The journey of Grasslands Church showcases the transformative power of living out one’s identity as God’s family, disciples, and missionaries. As they continue to grow, connect with new partners, and embrace opportunities, they are embodying the beautiful Gospel of Jesus, impacting lives and communities in profound ways. And as we learn what life looks like as two churches, Inner West and Grasslands, that share in one vision, we are excited for all the unexpected blessings that are to come.