KEPPEL COAST CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP
Welcome to BACKYARDBELIEVERS.COM , the ‘cyberhome’ of Keppel Coast Christian Fellowship in Yeppoon, on the coast of Central Queensland, Australia. Basically we are a church of pretty ordinary people, young, old, singles and families, who live on the Keppel Coast and who are simply looking for a better way to live … and, church wise, a more relevant way to love and enjoy the God who created us. We get together to celebrate, to pray and, more often than not, just to enjoy each other’s company. We are learning how to relate as a community, a journey that some of us have been on for a long time, others for a short while. Daily we are learning how to love, how to forgive, how to encourage and how to persevere in a life that has as many ups and downs as anyone else – the difference being that we are spurred on by faith in a God who loves us and who is able to turn all things around for our good. A God who has a plan for all who turn to Him. We have a vision to bless our community – basically by developing a network of home-based groups from Zilzie to Byfield – a light in every street. Places where people can meet and CONNECT… with God, with themselves and with their world’.
WHY ‘BACKYARD BELIEVERS’?
Well basically because as a church we’ve been on a bit of a journey over the past few years – a search for a more relevant and enjoyable way to be the type of community that Jesus envisioned for his church. Part of the process has been an examination of the way ‘church’ has evolved over the centuries, with its resultant emphasis on ’special’ buildings and days and often outdated or seemingly irrelevant ways of meeting, much of which we think the average Aussie does not relate to.
As a result we’re moving the emphasis on ‘church’ to where the average Australian usually meets – backyards, front rooms, patios, sheds and coffee shops – more comfortable places where we can relax, enjoy friendship and still explore the things that matter in life.
BACK TO THE BASICS
This is where the early church was actually birthed and how it spread – not in specially set apart buildings but around the common meal, from house to house, a light in every street, the love and power of Christ being released into communities by ordinary people. For nearly three centuries this was the norm. No special buildings or professional clergy, rather a much simpler, more organic but also more powerful community prevailed. And that’s what we’re looking for.
The term Backyard Believers actually came to me while I was stretched out on a hammock in the backyard of some friends, reminiscing over the Sunday gathering that we had had there not so long back, and musing over plans for the coming year.
As I rolled the term around in my mind it conjured up visions of ordinary Australians getting together in settings that were not only comfortable for them but natural to them – the backyard, the barbeque, the patio, the kitchen – the subject matter of many our TV shows and the places where life is lived – and where Jesus wants to be. And it seemed to sum up the vision that I had had in my heart for so long. A network of home based churches – Backyard Believers – strung out right along the coast, from Zilzie to Byfield.
Jesus loved to teach around the meal table and the early church copied him. Before He left He said that wherever two or three are gathered in His name there He would be in the midst of them. This is the simplest picture of church that we have in the Bible. No special building or day or person needed. Just a backyard (or front room, or kitchen table, or garage or boat) with a few believers and ‘not-yet-believers’ discussing him and seeking truth. That’s church!
Our transition from normal Sunday morning services into our present simple church/house church structure is journaled in my blog (the home page). If you click on ‘Our Journey’ under Categories you can follow the journey, starting at the bottom. We believe that we are part of a move of God to restore the original simple, apostolic wineskin to the church. The church needs to go back in order to go forward. Back to a simpler and more authentic way of ‘being’ rather than ’doing’. A Mary church rather than a Martha church (Matthew 10:38), out of which will come the reflection of Christ that our neighbours need.
PHILLIP AND ESTHER WALTERS
The church was started in 1990 by Esther and I not long after our return from living in London. My story in brief is as follows. Born in Warrnambool, Victoria, I moved in my early teens to Geelong. My early church years were spent in the Salvation Army but service in the Australian Army as a ‘nasho’ during the 60s took me away from my church roots and began a long period of spiritual backsliding, culminating in a return to faith and a powerful experience of God’s forgiveness and grace on a beach in Italy in ’74. Returning to London I joined Beulah Hill Christian Fellowship, a new home church that was later to evolve into Beulah Baptist Church. There I met Esther, a touring Aussie girl with a talent for cooking apple pie. I was won over and we married and had three girls, before returning to Australia in 1988.
Esther was born in Ayr, Queensland. Her parents were Assembly of God pastors and her earlier years were spent in a number of AOG churches around Queensland. She also went through a period of disillusionment with the church and it was during a restless period whilst backpacking in the UK that she met me.
We returned to Australia in 1988 both have a hunger to see the church break out of its traditional moulds and become the vibrant, unfettered church that Jesus intended. With the help of a new friend and budding (then) apostle, John Alley, from Peace Apostolic Community (as it is now) in Rockhampton, we kicked off the church in Yeppoon.
A few different buildings and people have flowed under the bridge since then of course. In the process the Lord has helped us define our calling and the type of church we want to be a part of. The later part of the story is under ‘Our Journey’ on my blog page. Right now we are enjoying what we are doing, both church-wise and in the broader context of building a great partnership with the other fellowships on the Capricorn Coast. I meet every Wednesday for prayer and friendship with at east 4 other pastors and our vision for the church on the Coast grows stronger all the time. God is doing a good thing in our day. To Him be praise.