Tweed Heads and Coolangatta have quite a number of Christian worship facilities.
When we relocated from Moruya on the south coast of New South Wales to Tweed Heads on the far north coast of New South Wales at the end of 2005, I discovered there were eleven Pentecostal congregations between - the Gold Coast airport environs at Tugun-Coolagantta - south to Kingscliff-Cabarita.
Since that time a number of those Pentecostal churches have closed their doors and a number of others have sprung up. One of those Pentecostal churches that ran into trouble initially found itself in drama over their Christian School principal fiddling the student numbers for the Government schools pay-outs. That led to other complications and eventually the church building was put under the auctioneer's hammer. Another Pentecostal church bought it all.
Originally that church had a primary school, a high school, a beautiful set of church buildings, a working cafe and restaurant, a view of a magnificent man made lake, and many splendid programs.
Another Pentecostal pastor set up a church in a community centre. Many people came and one of the congregation members won a television talent competition. It's numbers are growing.
Another Pentecostal church fell into the doldrums after losing their brilliant and fired-up pastor who was a man of uncanny wisdom, and the congregation signed up to one of the larger Sydney Pentecostal franchises, changed their name, and they seem to be on the road to recovery. This church had fed many homeless and destitute people several mornings each week.
Another church was initiated in Tugun and it grew so exponentially, that the senior minister, initiated another congregation further up the coast. Like any area, there is a mix of positive and negative stories associated with Pentecostal congregations.
The main line Protestant scene is interesting. Churches of Christ sold up their prime site in Tweed Heads and purchased an indoor stadium complete with offices, cafe and car park. They have since added to the building and using it as an income earner while worshipping Sunday morning's in a nearby school hall. They split, the ones that moved on some years later closed its doors.
The Lindesfarme Anglican School secured a new chaplain to also initiate a church in the Terranora area. When he turned up he was a padre who sported bright red socks and riding a powerful motor bike. People returned to church. He has since been moved to resurrect another ailing situation.
The Baptist church at Cabarita had not had a pastor for 4 years and finally got their man, a Minister they'd been trying to get for a little time. His notoriety for building congregations from 'almost scratch' is phenomenal. Within two weeks of coming he had over tripled the congregation from 20 to over 65. His plans are to meet the needs of the 75,000 extra people coming into the Tweed over the next 15 years.
The Presbyterian's had two congregations, one in Tweed Heads, another in Kingscliff but their sprightly and insightful Minister recognised that many of those who might dare to call themselves Presbyterian's found Sundays too difficult to meet. So he initiated a Wednesday night church at Terranora and it's now grown to well over 70 regular attenders.
Getting the mix right in a Protestant church can be problematic. One particular Tweed congregation has a great all-purpose facility and working cafe and everything they have tried has not produced any numerical growth over many years. A new minister with a history of entrepreneurialism has built a 500 person auditorium and establishing a ‘rural seminary’ associated with Morling College in Sydney.
Another congregation, where we worship, Living Temple Christian Church (Tugun Baptist) - some years ago the older generation saw no future and handed the lot – lock stock and barrel to a sister congregation in the next suburb meeting at the local school full of young families. They have so many young families in the morning service they asked some of the oldies (like us) to attend the evening service which we do.
In the Tweed there is also a plethora of home church groups who have felt that the mainstream big church program really isn't for them, and have initiated small home group fellowships, which in turn borne additional home group fellowships. Their monies 'donated to the Lord' go largely to Missions.
When checking out the Tweed Heads - Coolangatta Christian scene it's a mixed bag like any other community in Australia. While the Tweed region struggles for "bums on seats" in their churches, it's noted that the largest church attending region in the nation (Gold Coast). This statistic is shared between the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, where 15% of their residential population meet for the worship of Jesus Christ in some form.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html