Marc Safari is a student at Moore College in Sydney and hopes to plant a church in Western Sydney.
How did you come to realise you could plant a church?
It dawned on me that the people I grew up with no longer went to church. And to make it worse, I couldn’t even picture them in a church.
I grew up in Western Sydney to immigrant parents. My dad left Iran to avoid religious persecution for being a Christian, and my mum left Germany to be a missionary. After many years overseas, they moved to Australia to reach Muslims in Western Sydney. Growing up here, I experienced what many 2nd generation Aussies did: I was caught in a cultural no-man’s land, because my parents were foreigners, and I wasn’t like the locals.
My friends and I tried attending lots of youth groups, but we struggled. We didn’t get the humour, and we didn’t understand the preaching. We thought different, we acted different, we felt different. We felt like the church didn’t understand how we ticked, or what we really needed to hear. Eventually, my friends stopped going because they felt like outsiders.
That’s why I want to plant a church. My heart goes out to the people of Western Sydney. I want to give them a home in the church. A home that speaks their language, speaks in their rhythm, and removes any unnecessary barriers to the gospel.
I’ve been to many beautiful places in the world, but I can’t get Western Sydney off my mind. I’ve stood on top of the Alps, and walked through old great cities of Europe, but my mind always comes back to the area where I grew up… The streets, the old arcades, the buildings, the alleys, the parks…
For the last 5 years, I’ve been envisioning how to reach the people God has put on my heart. It’s been a circular process of praying, dreaming, researching, planning, testing and learning. I ask myself: “What would it take to get these people back into a church meeting Jesus?”
What part of the gospel story clicked with you?
I always saw loyalty as the highest form of currency – for family and for friends. The community I grew up with had this deep sense of loyalty – no matter what, we’d be there for each other. We were 100% committed to each other. But I remember being shocked at how Jesus was loyal to people who were never loyal to him – he meets disloyalty with loyalty. I couldn’t believe it. And that’s why I was happy to give my loyalty to him. It was that particular aspect of the gospel that was music to my ears – that was the start of my real Christian maturity.
I’ve seen what happens when you share the story of Jesus with people, in a way that intersects with their story: Hope, life, transformation…
What steps have you taken towards church planting?
Some of the best steps I’ve taken in this area have involved joining church plants. I was a Student Minister at Grace City Church in Waterloo for two years, and now I’m at MBM Parramatta. I’m seeing what it’s like on the ground, learning about the internal workings of a church plant, talking to the leaders and volunteers and seeing what the culture is like.
I went by myself years ago to the Reach Australia Conference, not knowing anybody. I realised that I’m not crazy for thinking about starting a church. It fueled my hunger to learn and to take my own spiritual health very seriously.
I’ve been part of the Planting & Leadership Incubators with Reach Australia, where a group of us who are thinking about planting meet up regularly with a church planter. Toby Neal (church planter of Vine Church, Sydney) has been sharing some of his experience, and investing in us. He shows that it’s achievable, it’s doable. It’s not rocket science. It’s just applying the story of Jesus to our contexts.
Reach Australia’s Planting and Leadership Incubator last year. It aims to encourage Bible college students to step up to plant churches and be in senior leadership.
How can people be praying for you?
Please ask God to give me wisdom for the short term (figuring out the right path).
Please ask God to give me wisdom for the long term (bigger vision, better character).