Music, community and worship come alive inside the blue welcoming walls of the new Ignite Church on Short Street in Nambour.
by Rebecca Mugridge
A generous grant and a great deal of hard work has enabled Pastor Darin Browne, his wife Fiona and their team to bring a new community church epicentre to the heart of Nambour.
The modern, music-inspired, family-focused, bible-led and high-tech enabled Ignite Church is now open, and passionate about helping the local community.
Founders Darin and Fiona are an inspiring couple. Darin is a successful international musician, a dedicated church pastor, has toured with Dr Bill Newman, won the Scripture Union Queensland 2018 Father of the Year award, and has dedicated his life to helping others.
Fiona is the co-founder and director of Lily House, a specially designed home on the Sunshine Coast for pregnant teenagers and young mothers. Designed as a safe house where girls could have babies in a supportive environment.
Fiona is also a qualified psychotherapist with a Bachelor of Social Science and Diploma of counselling, who is passionate about changing the lives of vulnerable women and preventing child abuse.
Foster parents for over two decades, they also have three adult daughters and five grandchildren, and together have a shared love for helping people.
“I want to know that my life has made a difference. When I go, I want to know that there is something that I have left behind that is a change for good,” Fiona said.
“We have always wanted to help people, we fostered kids for 20 years and we found that once kids leave foster care a lot just flounder, because there is nothing out there. That’s why I set up Lily House for the girls, they are just hurting and want someone to love them.
“People need to feel accepted and significant and feel love.”
Darin and Fiona both speak with great passion about the importance of connection for people.
“We have always believed we had a greater purpose in life than just going through life, we believe that of every person. We want to help people reach their dreams and destiny. It is not just about playing church; we want to really help people,” said Darin.
“If there are people out there who are looking at their life and frustrated and saying, ‘Well my life is not amounting to anything’, come and see us. We are here to help.”
Fiona and Darin say Covid has been hard for so many people and they noticed a spike in loneliness and feelings of isolation in people.
But out of it is also an opportunity.
“In many ways, it was an opportunity to reset. To look at what your priorities were and what is really important. For many that is usually relationships. And people are lonely, they have been cut off and lonely. So, we want to provide that love, friendship and support.”
Ignite will also have the Ignite Youth Group aimed at teenagers, with Youth Pastor Josh Gibbs and the Kids Hope program that is run through the local schools.
“We have a fantastic Youth Pastor (whose wife also runs the Kids Club), and we have a dedicated upstairs space for the Youth Group where they can play loud music and run video clips and things,” said Darin.
“Through the local chaplains we are also going into a local school, working with the principal and helping kids that need help. Not pushing any religious barrow, just helping kids.”
Ignite Church also runs a Ladies Group described as, “not there just to talk about cutesy things and crafty bits. Instead, we are all about building real community among women of all ages, from young mums to older women.”
There is also an Ignite Men’s Group, Ignite Kids Club and a creche. And they are looking at things like seminars on parenting in the future. Giving the community lots of opportunities to make friends and social connections.
With statistics saying that people who attend church or have a strong community around them tend to live longer, are healthier and less stressed, it becomes important to find ways of making connections, joining a community and feeling less socially isolated.
“You can have 500 Facebook friends and be the loneliest person on Earth. You need that in person contact and connection,” said Darin.
“I think too there is a relief to having faith in something outside of yourself, it doesn’t have to all rely on me and my own strength. There is something greater out there that can help me,” said Fiona.
Darin’s favourite quote after the last two years and Covid is one many can relate to and be inspired by.
“A set back is just a set-up for a comeback,” Darin smiled.
“We are so happy to be here. It is very central, air conditioned, and very well presented, but also still down to earth, because Nambour people are real good down-to-earth folk, salt-of-the-earth folk.
“We love Nambour, love the town, love the people, love everything about it.”
You can find Ignite Church at 29 Short Street in Nambour, all are welcome each Sunday from 9.30am. You can also find more about them online: Sunshine Coast Church – Ignite Church Sunshine Coast