Beginnings of Christian Outreach Centre
Chapter 8: The Birth of Christian Outreach Centre
by Anne Taylor
This article describes the life of Clark Taylor and his influence through Christian Outreach Centre.
Clark Taylor was born in Queensland, Australia in 1937. He was a farmer with little formal education. As a result of being born again in 1959 in a Billy Graham Crusade in Brisbane, he began training for the Methodist ministry in 1961. This was interrupted in 1963 when he suffered from cerebral malaria and frequently lapsed into unconsciousness.
In 1967, God miraculously healed him. During the Sunday morning service at the Oxley Methodist Church, he believed God was telling him to obey James 5 as it was time for him to be healed. That is exactly what happened on the following Tuesday night when the Rev. Godfrey Williams prayed for him. It was in that same year that he first heard about the baptism in the Holy Spirit, which he received after being prayed for by Frank Fullwood, an Assembly of God pastor.
In January 1968, he became an assistant minister in the Holland Park Methodist Circuit in Brisbane. He was responsible for St. Paul’s Church at Upper Mt Gravatt. After a Bible Study on the Holy Spirit, some people remained behind for prayer. One young man who was prayed for that night spoke in tongues until 2am Another lady received holy laughter which lasted for three days. People who had a hunger for God began praying together three times a week.
Sovereign move of God
In July, God moved sovereignly at St. Paul’s. In a prayer meeting at the manse on 17 July, a lady had a vision of Jesus standing before her, telling her that there was going to be a special service on Sunday night, and that he would bring people from the highways and the byways. Normally there was only a small congregation.
True to His word, God drew the people from as far away as Toowoomba and the Gold Coast with the result that the church was absolutely packed, despite the fact that there had been no advertising. As an example of God’s ability to draw people, a man came from the Darling Downs after reading Haggai 2:1 about the 21st day of the 7th month. There were manifestations of the Holy Spirit during the entire meeting which came to an abrupt end with the appearance of the Senior Minister who had not received the same Holy Ghost revelation.
In 1969 the Methodist Church placed Clark Taylor in King’s College, their Theological College. Because there were people who had been filled with the Holy Spirit but were not being pastored, Taylor began a house meeting at Corinda in May 1969. Fifty people attended the first meeting from Brisbane and the surrounding area. Over the next two years, the numbers grew to approximately two hundred, with ministers, priests, nuns and other people being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Clark Taylor led a group of young people in the streets of Brisbane, who saw many other young people saved as they witnessed to them about Jesus. Some of the young people came from the Wavell Heights Presbyterian Church where the Spirit-filled ministers were Alex Wylie and Ian Barlow. Others were involved with Charles Ringma, who later commenced Teen Challenge in Brisbane.
Early in 1970, Taylor resigned from the Methodist Church. Later in the year he received a prophetic word. Part of it says “….The College which I have spoken about to you and have called you to is the College whereby you live in prayer and intimacy with the Spirit and where I speak to you Spirit to spirit. … I would have you to learn the fear of God; I would have you to seek the fear of God, for the fear of God will keep you stable. If you do not have a fear of me, then inevitably you will raise yourself up and the devil will snare you. …”
Late in 1970, Clark Taylor joined with Pastor Trevor Chandler to Pastor the Windsor Full Gospel Church. Later they both left to begin Christian Life Centre.
At the end of 1972, Taylor resigned from Christian Life Centre to spend eighteen months in travelling ministry.
Early in 1974 he wrote, “For a long time now the Lord has been impressing upon me to commence another Centre in Brisbane. It is a city of nearly one million people and God has given me a vision to reach many of the country areas round about”.
That vision found its fulfilment in Christian Outreach Centre, the major vehicle through which Taylor influenced Australia and other nations.
Christian Outreach Centre
Christian Outreach Centre began with twenty-five adults meeting in the Taylors’ home on 16 June, 1974. On the following Sunday, one hundred and twenty-six people took Communion in a rented building owned by the Teachers’ Union.
The Church grew rapidly. It had started with no money or resources, but by October was able to purchase a Salvation Army property in Woolloongabba. The Church kept expanding, particularly by unchurched people being saved. It was also a place where Christians, both Protestant and Roman Catholic could be baptised in the Holy Spirit.
Clark Taylor had a big vision for evangelising and teaching children. In 1974, Pastor Neil Miers was employed as the Children’s Pastor. Old double-decker buses were purchased from Sydney to transport unchurched children from the suburbs. The Woolloongabba property was bursting at the seams, but children and adults were crammed into every nook and cranny. Joy Time Clubs began for children in the suburbs after school. Saturdays found children’s workers dressed up in animal costumes, outreaching with the gospel. Before Pastor Miers left Brisbane in 1977, the Children’s Church numbered seven hundred.
Finding space was always a problem, but Taylor never allowed such problems to stand in the way of his vision of Australia For Christ. He believed that there was always a solution for each problem. He was not limited by traditional church thinking. In January 1975, a large property was purchased at Mt. Tuchekoi for a conference centre. Many a child’s life was changed at a Children’s Camp there.
Television was another medium which Taylor used very successfully throughout Australia. By 1976, Taylor was starting to talk about using television in Australia in a radical way. By that time the Church had outgrown the Woolloongabba property and had moved into a West End warehouse.
The bold television scheme could not have worked without Brian Millis, a TV journalist. Once again, Taylor’s vision was not hindered by lack of money or equipment. Under great difficulties, the Sunday evening services were filmed, then edited down to a half-hour programme called A New Way Of Living“. The first programme was shown on Channel 9 in Brisbane on 17 July, 1977.
During the next four years it was being shown on sixteen stations in Queensland as well as in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. A New Way Of Living was radical in Christian Television. The average Australian who never went to church saw large crowds of Christians with smiling faces enjoying God. They saw people responding to an altar call to be born again. They also saw miracles taking place. Large numbers of people were saved.
Clark Taylor’s influence was also spreading throughout South-east Queensland by the establishment of other Christian Outreach Centres in such places as Nambour, Ipswich and Redcliffe. Centres continued to radiate out from Brisbane.
One of the most powerful ways in which his influence was felt was in the lives of Christian Outreach Centre pastors. His Methodist background influenced the way in which he structured Christian Outreach Centre. It is a connectional system. There is an annual conference, but pastors gather together in local regions more frequently for fellowship and training, which was vital in the early years because most of the pastors lacked formal or theological education.
Clark Taylor built faith into his pastors. No conference would pass without a sermon on Mark 11:22-24. He took God at His word concerning mountains of sickness, demon possession, spiritual apathy, attitudes to religion in Australia, bureaucratic red tape, financial need, unbelief and impossibilities in general.
To him, Australia For Christ were not empty words. He believed that unchurched Australians would be saved. He believed that unlearned men who had been with Jesus could turn Australia upside down. He believed that there would be a Christian Outreach Centre in every city and town in Australia.
Christian Outreach Centres such as Nambour are an example of that faith. In less than twenty years, the younger generation that was nurtured there has continued to carry the banner of Australia For Christ. The Holy Spirit is being poured out through the anointed music of such people as Tracy Ham, Andrew Ironside and Ian Beresford.
People world-wide are influenced by the magazine, A New Way Of Living, edited by Darren Trinder. Mark Ramsey, who went out from Nambour to begin Noosa Christian Outreach Centre, continues to run with the vision of “The Sunshine Coast For Christ”.
Clark Taylor’s influence spread to New South Wales. John Gear, a Spirit-filled Methodist who commenced Gloucester Christian Fellowship, listened to tapes of Taylor’s preaching. He persisted in inviting Taylor to conduct a tent crusade in Gloucester.
That was the initial step in small groups of Spirit-filled Christians becoming part of Christian Outreach Centre.
A number of the movement’s leaders, including the vice president David MacDonald, have come from that area, birthing new Christian Outreach Centres throughout New South Wales and beyond.
Christian Outreach Centre was beginning to flow out to other nations. One example of this is the establishment of the movement in the Solomon Islands. Pastor Kevin Dales had been a student in the one year Bible College at Mt. Tuchekoi. He went out from there to pioneer Christian Outreach Centre in Innisfail.
One of his members, Lafai Ituaso, had a great desire that Kevin would go to his people in Tuvalu, a Pacific island. Over the next few years teams from Innisfail ministered in the Pacific Islands. Hundreds of people were saved and healed.
Late in 1989, a Bible College building was completed at Balasuna in the Solomon Islands, due largely to the hard work and sacrifice of the Innisfail people. Since then, students from the Pacific have been trained there and gone out to establish Christian Outreach Centres.
After seeing a Christian school in New Zealand, Taylor began to set the wheels in motion to have a Christian school in Brisbane. In May 1978, Christian Outreach College began with 136 children in primary and secondary school to grade 10. It was established in crowded conditions in the West End complex using the Accelerated Christian Education programme. Subsequently, other Christian Outreach Colleges have been established using the Education Department Curriculum.
Clark Taylor also had a vision for a Christian University. In 1986, Christian Heritage College began, with the vision of bringing reformation to the nation in many areas, beginning with the field of education. In 1988 Christian Heritage College was given accreditation with the Queensland State Government so that Christian-trained teachers would be accepted to teach in State Schools. Graduates are now teaching with a standard of excellence in both Christian and State Schools.
Bible College and School of Ministries
From the first week of the inception of Christian Outreach Centre, Clark Taylor began Bible teaching. Bible Colleges of one year’s duration were held at Mt. Tuchekoi, West End and Mansfield. He also established a Video Bible College. The year 1988 saw the commencement of the two year Bible College course for the Associate Diploma leading into the Bachelor of Ministries course at Mansfield. Each January there is a Ministry Training School of intensified training for people going out to pastor Christian Outreach Centres.
Clark Taylor resigned from Christian Outreach Centre in 1989. He was involved in itinerant evangelistic ministry, and in November 2000 began Worship Centre in Brisbane.
The movement he founded, Christian Outreach Centre, continues and the vision of Australia For Christ continues to burn brightly in other nations of the world as well. The gospel has been committed to faithful people who are teaching others also.
Chapter 9: The Beginnings of Christian Outreach Centre
by John Thorburn
Part I: Clark Taylor’s Life and Ministry.
Clark Taylor was a name that was well known in Australia, especially in Queensland, in the late seventies and the early eighties.
Every person who came across this man, either in person or through the medium of television could not avoid being touched and impacted by this dynamic and unconventional minister.
Taylor’s outgoing personality and his total dedication to the preaching of the Gospel were used by God to touch many lives. The result of this man’s God-given vision and his obedience to see that vision fulfilled is known today as Christian Outreach Centre.
Clark Taylor was born in Queensland in 1937 to Joe and Rita Taylor. His mother had always prayed, “Lord, make him a minister”, and like most mothers had always felt that her son was special.
In his early years, Clark had a great dislike for things academic. He was even known to have eaten green fruit in an attempt to avoid having to go to school.
Taylor was never afraid of hard physical work, having spent many hours working on the family property at Palen Creek, near Rathdowney, 70 miles south of Brisbane.
At the age of 14 his family moved to the Northern Territory, where they leased a property and raised beef cattle. At the age of 16 he was running a mustering camp, where he had authority over some of the roughest and toughest men in the Territory.
One sad event that took place during this period of his life was the death of his father who was killed in a tractor accident. It was after this tragedy that Clark moved back down south where he was to encounter something that would change his life forever.
The year was 1959 and at the urging of his Aunt Alexandra, Clark Taylor found himself at the Brisbane Exhibition Grounds where American evangelist, Billy Graham was holding a series of crusade meetings.
The following is an extract from the magazine A New Way of Living where the journalist describes what happened that night.
The choir, hundreds strong, led by Crusade Songleader Cliff Barrows, sang fervently. Tonight was the final night of the Crusade. The bright moonlight revealed a scene typical of Billy’s crusades. Thousands had gathered – many from outback Queensland, to join in what had already been described as an historic event in Australian church life.
The words of the hymn meant nothing, Clark told himself. Sitting on the grass in the arena, looking up at the thousands in the grandstands, he cursed their churchiness and their assurance. Had there been a group of vocal hecklers, he might have joined them … but here, he was alone – as alone as he had been on other moonlit nights, far, far away from crowds … and from Christianity. The crowd fell silent, drawing Clark’s gaze to the stage in the centre of the arena. The boyish looking Cliff Barrows had stepped back, giving place to a tall wavy-haired man whose craggy face and penetrating eyes commanded Clark’s attention: Billy Graham.
So this was Billy Graham. A dark suited, fortyish, tall figure whose right hand held a New Testament, whose left hand index finger stabbed skyward, and whose voice carried clearly to every part of the arena. After praying, Billy began to preach. He would preach for around forty minutes on this night. He would question, answer, anticipate, explain. He would speak of Heaven, and warn of Hell; he would even object, on his listeners behalf, to his own statements. “But Billy, you say …” would be repeated often … followed soon after by, “The Bible says …” By the close of his sermon he would have answered every objection, closed every exit, leaving only Jesus, The Way. He would have spoken thousands of words … and Clark would not have heard one of them.
“CLARK”. The voice, unlike any Clark had ever heard, somehow entered into the very centre of his being. There in front of him, and slightly above the heads of those seated a few feet away, stood Jesus. During the next forty or so minutes something took place that was unknown … even to Clark Taylor. Somehow the spirit of a man which life had battered and embittered received an awakening, in a communion that would defy explanation.
Then He was gone … and Clark, aware once again of his surroundings, was amazed to find that Billy Graham had finished speaking. The choir was again singing … this time softly, invitingly … “Just as I am”. The evangelist was standing, head bowed, chin propped, silently praying … In the moonlight, people were streaming forward … from the grandstand, from the open air seats, and from the grassed oval where Clark sat, stirred in his heart as never before.
Still within him, the battle raged, as reason fought revelation and pent up anger the love of Jesus Christ. Verse after verse was sung. Still they came — people from all walks of life; men and women of all ages …. coming to Christ. It was time. Fighting feelings of foolishness, Clark rose to his feet and joined the throngs.
What a beautiful description of a night that would change one man forever, but also see the beginnings of a ministry that would see worldwide effect.
In 1961, Clark began training for the Methodist ministry. It was during this time that he met and married his wife, Anne. This union was to produce three children, Linda, Philip and Robin.
In 1963, Clark contracted cerebral malaria, which would cause him to lapse into periods of unconsciousness. In 1967, he received healing from this disease. This was the same year that he was baptised in the Holy Spirit.
Clark and Anne then spent time as Assistant Ministers in the Holland Park Methodist Circuit where they were responsible for St. Paul’s Church at Upper Mount Gravatt. It was during this time that Clark began to have difficulties with his denomination over the gifts and manifestations of the Holy Spirit which were happening under his ministry.
Clark was then to spend some time at Kings College, but he eventually resigned from the Methodist Church in 1970. He then joined himself with Trevor Chandler at the Windsor Full Gospel and then they started the Christian Life Centre.
This partnership lasted until 1972, when Clark resigned and spent the next eighteen months in travelling ministry. After receiving a prophetic word, Clark returned to Brisbane where he commenced Christian Outreach Centre.
From very small beginnings of 25 adults meeting in his home, C.O.C. has grown through many different stages to what it is today. The vision began as Australia for Christ but this later grew to Reaching Our World for Christ.
Clark was known for his radical and unusual approach to ministry but there was no denying the anointing that was on his life.
Another outstanding aspect was in his ability to impart the ministry gifts to the pastors of C.O.C. Even though there was no formal theological training, he equipped these pastors in such a way that they were sent into towns and they established strong and vibrant churches. Even though this method had its limitations, it was instrumental in establishing churches in cities where there was very little Christian influence.
There were many other aspects of his ministry, such as television, outreaches, establishing Christian schools, and in the latter stages, a Christian Teachers College and School of Ministry.
Clark Taylor resigned from Christian Outreach Centre in 1989, and is now involved in itinerant evangelistic ministry. He should primarily be remembered as a man who ministered powerfully in the anointing of God and as the pioneer of a movement that has not only touched Australia, a country that he loved, but a movement that has impacted the world.
Part II: Christian Outreach Centre, Mansfield
At the end of Wecker Road in the Brisbane suburb of Mansfield stands a complex which is the hub of what is now a worldwide movement. From a small beginning of 25 people in the lounge room of Clark and Anne Taylor’s home on 16 June, 1974, this local church has grown to a current membership of approximately 2500 people, while the movement that was birthed from its vision has grown to a worldwide membership of about 1600 churches.
After that first meeting the numbers grew so rapidly that the church saw the need to move to larger premises. They spent the next nine months meeting in the Teachers Union Building in Spring Hill until further growth forced another move.
By God’s miraculous provision the old Salvation Army Hall in Trafalga Street, Wooloongabba was purchased. This building was soon bursting at the seams and after knocking out walls and even joining up to the house next door it had finally outgrown its usefulness.
Premises at 100 Victoria Street, West End were then purchased and the church was to have its home here for the next six and a half years. It was during this time that the Centre saw tremendous growth through the use of the medium of television.
A program called A New Way Of Living was produced and was shown on Sunday mornings. God had placed a powerful anointing for healing miracles and salvation over the church and as people saw these things happening in their lounge rooms they were drawn to the Centre to see for themselves.
Even though many had come out of curiosity and to have a look at this madman who seemed to break all the rules of what a preacher should be, many were saved as they sat under the anointing of God and saw the miracles that were taking place.
Another ministry that saw growth was with the children. It was during this time that Neil Meirs came on staff to head up the childrens work. Every Saturday Neil would take his eager team out into the streets and to the shopping centres. There they would be dressed up as clowns and would put on shows and invite the kids to come to Sunday School. As the children came, so did the parents.
The church continued this steady growth until once again the building was too small. Even though it seemed humanly impossible and too big a task, the people of Christian Outreach Centre once again put their trust in God.
Land was purchased at 322 Wecker and work was begun on the current Auditorium. Even though the cost was great, once again God supplied every need and the building was officially opened in May, 1983.
Even though the founder’s personal battle with immorality lead to his dismissal from the ministry in 1989, the movement which he founded is still growing strongly today. This proves beyond doubt that if God wants to build and use something to touch people, he will do so. And he will do it despite the weakness and the imperfections of the people that he chooses.
Perhaps one of the greatest strengths of Christian Outreach Centre has been its desire to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry”, and to see that work carried out throughout the nations of the world.
In its early years there was great emphasis placed on the vision to see Australia for Christ. There were many pastors sent out from the Centre and even though they had only very basic training they were having a great impact wherever they went. This is because of the emphasis that was placed on relying on the Spirit of God to see you through.
While this was a good principle to live by, over the years it was realised that more was needed. This lead to the establishment of another important part of the ongoing ministry of the Church. This is education.
The Church now has the facilities in place to educate and train people from Primary through Secondary and on to Christian Heritage College. Every day there are over 2000 men, woman and children either training or being trained within the grounds of the church.
Another important part of the ethos of the church is its Sunday services. These are a time of great joy and celebration of what God has done and is continuing to do in and through His people. There is always a time of praise and worship where people are free to express their love for God.
Another strength is found in the variety and quality of the messages which are preached from the pulpit. Because of the size and reputation of the church it is able to attract world renowned ministries to supplement the quality of the `in house’ preachers.
This provides the members with a very well balanced diet of spiritual food.
One of the challenges which a church of this size faces is found in the size itself. Because of the large numbers of people who gather together in one place every Sunday it is very difficult to maintain a family atmosphere. People can come along and not even be noticed.
In fact, it was not uncommon to find two people who had been attending the Church for a period of time and had never met each other.
This problem has been overcome by the introduction of the Home Cell principle. It has taken about 12 months to get people away from reliance on the Pastor to meet their needs and to look to each other for support. This has totally changed the atmosphere in the church and has formed a much friendlier and closer relationship amongst the people.
In summing up it is perhaps important to look at the vision statement of the Church: “Our vision is to lead people to Christ making disciples in our neighbourhood, city, nation, and overseas.”
The church was founded with the vision of outreach and it has seen success in this area. As a church and as individuals, we need to continue to be open to allow the Holy Spirit to mould us, change us, train us and use us.
If we continue to do this and remain faithful to God, we will continue to see our God-given vision fulfilled.
Christian Outreach Centre in 2011
Beginning with a home group in 1974, they moved their headquarters to the present location in 1982 when C.O.C. built their new auditorium to seat 5,000 people. Their school expanded from Preparatory to Grade 12 and has over 1,600 students. Their tertiary college, Christian Heritage College (CHC) commenced in 1986 grew from offering one course in education with an initial enrolment of nine students, to around 40 courses and a student community exceeding 800. The college offers a range of accredited degrees in Business, Education and Humanities, Ministries and Social Sciences.
By the end of 1988 there were 136 churches in the movement including churches in New Zealand, and the Solomon Islands. During 1989, churches were established in Papua-New Guinea, Fiji, Vanuatu, the United Kingdom, and Malaysia. The movement experienced rapid growth with 44 new churches opening in 1990, the year Pastor Neil Miers became president of Christian Outreach Centre International.
By 2010 C.O.C. had around 1600 churches in 30 countries including Australia, Bulgaria, Chile, Denmark, Egypt, Fiji, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Malaysia, Malta, Nepal, New Zealand, Philippines, PNG, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Thailand, Tonga, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Vanuatu and Zambia.
The Movement is strongly involved in helping people in need especially through Global Care. This relief agency poured millions of dollars into worldwide relief.
This movement is one example of exploding movements of church growth across the world today. Most of their churches began as a home group, and then grew.
After Clark Taylor resigned from Christian Outreach Centre he travelled and ministered in America and then in 2000 founded the Worship and Ministry Centre, now the Worship Centre Christian Church, in Brisbane, and from 2012 handed the leadership of the church to Pastors Paul ‘Skip’ and Leah Smith.