Why did Cinnamon Network Australia start?

Leaders from Australia asked Cinnamon Network International if they would explore starting Cinnamon Network Australia to help churches transform communities. Cinnamon Network International operates a man of Macedonia strategy. In Acts 16:9 it is recorded that the Apostle Paul had a vision in which a man from Macedonia asked him to come and help. In the same way Cinnamon Network International only works in countries where it is asked to help.

How did Cinnamon Network first begin?

In 2010 social entrepreneur Matt Bird started hosting a regular conversation with some Kingdom-minded friends including David Westlake who is now Board Chair. Matt’s hope was that together they would find a way to increase the UK church’s transformative role in community and society. From this small group Cinnamon Network began emerging with the mission to help churches transform communities. Following the success of this work in the UK Matt began to be asked to help start Cinnamon Networks in countries around the world.

What did Cinnamon Network initially achieve?

Matt Bird founded and led the Cinnamon Network UK team to support the replication of 30 Cinnamon Recognised Projects in more than 3,000 local churches demonstrating Jesus’ love to 3million people experiencing vulnerability. They also enabled local church networks in 92 government municipalities to undertake the Faith Action Audit to demonstrate that faith is a force for good and worth more than £3billion per annum.

In addition they helped local church networks in 48 government districts or cities to host a Civic Prayer Breakfast bringing church and civic leaders together to pray for the wellbeing of their communities. Since then Cinnamon Networks have been starting in countries around the world.

What are the origins of the Cinnamon Network name?

In the Old Testament Exodus chapter 30 verse 23 records God instructing Moses to make anointing oil. One of the key ingredients God told Moses to to include was ‘sweet cinnamon’. Well it actually has nothing to do with that at all! The regular conversations Matt Bird hosted to explore how to help churches transform community took place in one of his favourite Indian restaurants called The Cinnamon Club. So when a name was needed for what was beginning to emerge Cinnamon Network was the first thing that came to mind. Providentially it has international meaning for spicing things up!

Why is Cinnamon Network Australia called a network rather than an organisation?

Cinnamon Network Australia is highly organised but it is not an organisation. Organisations have never changed the world but networks and movements occasionally have. Cinnamon Network Australia brings leaders together from every sector of society including church, business, political and media in order to work together to transform communities. So Cinnamon Network Australia is not something that is done ‘to’ people but rather something people choose to do ‘with’ one another. So you can be part of this network in any one of a myriad of ways.

What is Cinnamon Network Australia big idea to help churches transform communities?

Lots of leaders come up with great ideas to change the world and then they ask God to bless their plans. Most of these plans don’t come to much because God prefers us to join him in his mission rather than us asking him to join us in ours. So the Cinnamon Network Australia approach is to ask the double barrelled question, ‘What is God doing – and how do we join in?’ What is God doing through his church to transform community and how does Cinnamon Network Australia bring people together to do more of that?

So what is Cinnamon Network Australia noticing that God is doing and how is it joining in?

Cinnamon Network Australia is noticing that when local churches discover effective ways to transform the community other local churches naturally want to replicate their model. Cinnamon Network Australia intentionally joins in with this by helping local churches discern what Jesus is calling them to do in the community. It then provides them with a menu of tried and tested community projects that they can choose to replicate rather than having to ‘reinvent the wheel’.

So does Cinnamon Network Australia innovate new church-led community projects?

Cinnamon Network joins in with what God is already doing so we do not start our own church-led community projects. Instead we partner with community projects that are already up, running and having a transformative impact. If the church-led community project is already replicated in 3 or more local churches we may invite them to join our menu of Cinnamon Recognised Project. If they are not yet replicated we can invite them to join our replication programme to support their initial replicate in 3 or more other local churches.

Why does Cinnamon Network Australia help local church networks measure their social impact?

Church-led community projects are made possible or made better by their relationship with civic leaders and organisations. The church generally communicates value in story, however civics communicate value in numbers. Cinnamon Network Australia helps churches become bilingual – to communicate their value in both story and numbers. The Faith Action Audit has a number of metrics the lead one being the monetary value of the time given by churches and faith groups to the community. Local church networks that have run the Faith Action Audit experience increased confidence in the gospel, involvement in strategic planning, access to grants and media coverage.

How does Cinnamon Network Australia help local churches work together?

Cinnamon Network Australia believes that church-led community transformation is most effective when local churches work together in a local church network. One of the most effective ways to build or strengthen a church network is to host a Civic Prayer Breakfast. The Civic Prayer Breakfast enables church leaders to build relationships with one another and also with civic leaders in order to host an event in a civic building to pray for the wellbeing of their community.

Why does Cinnamon Network Australia care so much about unity and building local church networks?

Cinnamon Network Australia helps local churches work together in their community because the church is more believable when we are one. Jesus prays that we should be one so that the would might believe (Jn17). Cinnamon Network Australia encourages local churches to work together on the basis of what Jesus considered to be the most important commandment – to love God and to love your neighbour (Mt22:37-40). As St Augustine said, ‘In essentials, unity; in opinions, liberty; in all things love.’ When it comes to working with other local churches let’s stick to the essentials of loving God and loving our cities and give space to one another on secondary issues as important as they may be to us.

What is the governance and leadership of Cinnamon Network Australia?

Cinnamon Network Australia has a threefold governance and leadership structure. A National Board of business leaders who provide rigorous governance and oversight. Regional Advisory Councils of senior church leaders who advise on the development of Cinnamon Network Australia and advocate for church-led community transformation. A National Director who leads a team to deliver the strategy agreed by the National Board and supported by the Regional Advisory Councils.

How is Cinnamon Network Australia funded?

It’s easiest to say how Cinnamon Network Australia isn’t funded – we don’t ask local churches for money. Cinnamon Network Australia is called to serve the local church not to be served by the local church. Therefore we don’t ask local churches for money although of course they do make donations and when they do we love to say a big thank you! So Cinnamon Network Australia is funded by resourceful individuals, families and foundations who see that their philanthropic investment has a massive catalytic effect to help churches transform community.

What is Cinnamon Network International?

Cinnamon Network International is the global family of Cinnamon Networks. The purpose of Cinnamon Network International is to support the launch, development and sustainability of Cinnamon Networks in countries around the world. Cinnamon Network International licenses countries to operate a Cinnamon Network. In turn each Cinnamon Network country or region nominates representatives to be part of the International Leadership Council who provide global leadership to the movement.

What is the global goal of Cinnamon Network International and the national goal of Cinnamon Network Australia?

The global goal of Cinnamon Network International is to demonstrate Jesus’ love to 50 million people experiencing vulnerability. It will achieve this global goal by activating and resourcing 50,000 local churches to love people experiencing vulnerability and transform their communities. Cinnamon Network International’s research has shown that when a local church engages in its community, there are 1,000 times in a year when it serves a person experiencing vulnerability – hence 50,000 local churches impacts 50million people experiencing vulnerability. The national goal of Cinnamon Network Australia is to demonstrate Jesus’ love to 1.15million people experiencing vulnerability by helping 1,150 local churches transform their communities.

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