Knysna Hope is a registered Non-Profit Organization (NPO), created by church planting missionaries along the Garden Route of South Africa. It seeks to nurture redemptive relationships through co-operative upliftment initiatives--such as skills development, crisis pregnancy intervention and feeding schemes in this culturally and economically diverse community. In addition, the church planters support a community radio station, music academy, youth outreach, a biblical counseling center, and the desire to facilitate a convention center in our town. Such a facility may house a radio station and other media facilities, as well as providing space for large events, concerts, worship services, and outreach conventions. Since 2010 two churches have been started, with a third in the planning phase. The 15 year vision of Knysna Hope (2015-2030) outlines the creation of no less than 10 additional churches in this growing, multicultural town of 70,000—Lord willing. We refer to these church planting initiatives as church start-ups. Recognizing that relational evangelism and discipleship is an essential strategy in our modern and complex Knysna culture, we desire to create church start-ups in each of the socio-economic enclaves throughout our town.
The recruitment of at least 6 additional missions-minded couples and 4 singles is a priority in the period 2015-2018. The range of ministry qualifications and experience will include: church planters, theological educators, biblical counselors, music performers and educators, broadcast specialists, children and youth workers, medical personnel, and administrative/logistical professionals. We recognize that the skills necessary to develop and manage the Knysna Hope ministry team will in some instances come within families where the husband might be skilled in business, while his wife is an educator. Such combined skills and experiences will provide an economy of resources and energies. Such a couple will also contribute as church planting assistants within the community where they live.
Especially during the first 5 years (2015-2020) "pioneering" phase for the Knysna Hope vision, all personnel are required to come fully resourced with their own personal income. This is particularly important in the application for Charitable Workers Permits required by the South African government for all foreign workers. However, our Knysna Hope organization promotes a philosophy of upliftment and empowerment for local South Africans, and is structured to provide training for nationals at all levels
We recognize that we have been given an opportunity to influence Knysna for Christ in a new and appropriate way. Therefore we are suggesting a fresh model of multiple “church start-ups” throughout our town initiated and led by missional, qualified, church-planting pastors. Although each of these community based outreaches will maintain their own local church autonomy, the spiritual leaders will be voluntarily connected to each other through a common “city-wide vision.” We believe that this approach will answer the biblical imperative for the organism of the church to experience genuine body life. Young church planting works often feel remote and isolated in their formative years, and would benefit from some connectivity to others of like faith.
That’s where the voluntary relationship comes in with the other church planters, and their growing congregations, to feel that they are a part of something bigger than themselves. Enjoying ministry fellowship and even partnership with other church start-ups in the town who share a common vision will not only allow for encouragement, but it will also better facilitate the spread of the gospel through the mutual investment in community projects. Such a model will in addition, provide opportunities for combined fellowship, worship services, and outreach events for the town. Depending on practical considerations, such events might be periodic, or even regular.
Geographically Divided, Culturally Diverse and the Realities of Economic Disparity
Knysna has been identified as having more multimillionaires with second homes than any other town in the country. These wealthy homeowners live elsewhere and only visit Knysna a few weeks each year. Yet in contrast we might guess that more than 50% of our permanent Knysna residents still remain below the poverty line. Thankfully there is a strong middle group of average residents who keep the town viable! The fascinating reality is that these contrasts appear rather stark in the confines of a small town.
Probably the two greatest obstacles to ministry in Knysna are the geographic and cultural divisions in town. Naturally, those with means live in the leafy green suburbs, and those without live in poorer communities known locally as “The Township.” These two geographic divisions also represent multiple cultural and even language divisions. The suburbs in town are fragmented due to the extreme nature of the Knysna Estuary and it’s surrounding hills. Each suburb is clearly disconnected from the other, offering church planters a natural opportunity of starting an outreach from their home, attempting to reach their own neighborhood first. The Township community also has a similar challenge geographically as there are scores of housing settlements scattered over a wide area, divided by the harsh topography. Again this invites a strategy for multiple church planting start-ups in each smaller community.
The advantage of a strategy of dispersed church planters is that it allows small start-ups the luxury of using homes, and other borrowed or shared facilities at minimal cost in the short to medium term. This in turn provides more available ministry resources to be invested in people, rather than in under-utilized facilities.
Building Fresh Spiritual Momentum
Our goal is to encourage the building of redemptive relationships in all sectors of our diverse community. Making ourselves accessible and visible to the souls of Knysna opens the doors to be able to intervene spiritually in their lives. In time, such enterprises will provide real ministry opportunities for the Christians in our growing churches to maximize their impact on the community. We envisage a new generation of missional South African believers committed to reaching their community with the Gospel.
The reality is that there is presently an unusual open door for the Gospel in towns like Knysna. We are eager to maximize our impact for Christ while the freedoms are there. Until the momentum builds among our local South African believers, we believe there is ample need to recruit missional church planters and church planting assistants from other places in South Africa, and also from North America. We understand that modern church planting missionaries want community in ministry, and desire to be part of a team.
Knysna Hope offers such a benefit. There is much to be said about the effectiveness of missionaries committed to a common vision. We are trusting the Lord to bring together a diverse team of uniquely gifted and resourced men and women, married or single, to establish an influential spiritual foundation in our wonderful town. Our hope is that a new generation of missional Christians will be built to carry the Gospel baton on to the next generation.
By MISSIONARY DAVE RUDOLPH (who we will be joining in South Africa)