My old church in Perth had its final service on Sunday.
It was my first church. I was a brand new Christian when I first went there in October 2001. Despite a period in 2005 where I was fed up with a few people there and wanted to leave, many great friendships were formed and memories made there. Duncan and I first met there nearly nine years ago. Understandably I am quite sad.
Duncan and I had been in Perth the Sunday before when the congregation unanimously voted to stop meeting together. It was an open meeting so, even though I am no longer a member, I could have sat in on it. But we chose not to. I think I would have cried if I had.
I'm still looking back to a few years ago and struggling to think of what went wrong. Despite what people may be thinking, it was not a bitter end. Yes, there had been problems, but relationships had been restored and everything was very positive in the final months. In the end it was a case of people wanting the same thing (people to hear the gospel), but disagreeing on how to do it. Although I don't know all the ins and outs (and heard many different stories from different people), in the end, I think it is better that relationships are maintained and people go in the directions they feel God is leading them in, rather than there being disunity. Praise God that everything ended very well. There was no 'split'. Some people will probably keep meeting together in small groups, but others will be looking for new church homes across Perth.
Although that church only had a 12 year span, if all the people who had become Christians or gone on to become more established in their faith gathered in one room, there would have been hundreds of people. Hundreds of lives touched by Jesus through the ministry of that church. That is something to really rejoice about.
The people who left their evangelical Anglican church in Perth's western suburbs 12 years ago to plant a non-denominational university church did not do it in vain. It may not have been what they hoped it would be, but the gospel will not be stopped. God does not rely on a particular denomination or congregation as He builds His kingdom. He is building HIS church. His universal church. Our plans are not His plans. Our ways are not His ways.
God was glorified in that place for 12 years. He will continue to be glorified by His people and His gospel will continue to go out to all who will hear.