Intergenerational Leadership: “It takes a village…” – Murray Brown

Murray Brown is the youth pastor at St Albans in Palmerston North

Most of this know the ending to this old African proverb: “…to raise a child.”

There is more than an element of truth to this saying when it comes to discipling young people in our churches.

Recently I sat outside a café with an experienced youth worker who confessed their greatest failing in youth ministry. This was not a moral failing, a leadership bungle or even a programme that fell flat on its face – he said to me: “I wish I’d recruited more than just young adults to assist me in leading the youth ministry”. Continue reading

Uniquely Presbyterian – Bruce Hamill

Bruce Hamill has written a response to Moderator of the Presbyterian Church, Rt Rev Richard Dawson’s comments in the Autumn edition of Spanz about what is distinct and unique about the Presbyterian tradition.

Richard’s musings in the most recent edition of Spanz (Editor’s note: read the article here – pg 3) helpfully focused a discussion that has been brewing for some time among Presbyterians in a period of declining interest in denominational difference. Continue reading

God whispers a secret about telling secrets – Geoff New

Rev Dr Geoff New is Dean of Studies at the Knox Centre for Ministry & Leadership and is based in Dunedin.

I was ambivalent about accepting the invitation to write this blog. I found myself with something to say but unsure if I could say it; unsure if I had the vocabulary. I’ll try.

When I was young, too young, I became aware of the Holocaust. I was too young to appreciate the enormity of it and that expressed itself in a morbid fascination with it. Yet over the years that morbid fascination matured into raw realisation. Continue reading

Advent 2: Lighten Up! – Martin Stewart

20171013_122721John 8:12

Jesus spoke…saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.’

In this, our southern hemisphere season of light, the darkness doesn’t have as much room to put its pressure on the light.

In the hearts of those who follow Jesus, the darkness has no room at all!  ‘Never’ is a strong word.  No room for alternatives.

However, when we examine ourselves, we find that there is a gap between God’s ‘never’ and us.  God says ‘never’, we say ‘maybe’. Continue reading

Lighten up! Advent 1 resource – Martin Stewart

Lighten Up!
Advent 1


[Introduction suggestion is appended below]

Isaiah 60 proclaims words of release to all who are burdened:

“Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.”

For darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

Lift up your eyes and look around;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from far away,
and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.
Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and rejoice,
because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.

[Isaiah 60:1-5 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised]

‘Has’ and ‘will’ and ‘shall’.
These are words from behind and ahead.

Something has been.  Something else will be or shall be.

The promised and the promising.

In the space between these worlds we make our way.
We are not alone, we are framed by God’s YES.

The day has dawned (again).

The darkness has passed (again).

Our light has come and is coming (always both).

Our light has come!

It is time, this Advent, to lighten up!

Have someone read the following words while a gentle piece of music is played and/or images of the community around you are displayed enabling people to see that the light is shining around them and through them:

Thread the light
Shine the light
Don’t hide the light
Live the light
And give the light
Seek the light
And speak the light
Crave the light
And brave the light
Stare the light
And share the light
Show the light
And know the light
Raise the light
And praise the light
Thread the light

[Words by Glen Hansard from the song ‘In the arms of this low’]

Possible Introduction for Advent Sunday

Advent in New Zealand is celebrated in summer – the season of light.

The days are at their longest, the night has to find its way in whatever gaps are left.  Summertime is also holiday time for many people thus there is a horizon through December of lighter days, less pressure, family get-togethers, and time and space to relax.

But there is a lot to get through until that space arrives, thus Advent in New Zealand is fraught with busyness, work deadlines, and pressure to get everything done, including all of the Christmas arrangements.

For most, the weeks that lead up to Christmas can have an element of being burdensome.
To what degree do we end up walking towards Christmas too heavily?
Can we make something of this season of light and more intentionally let the light in?
Is there also an invitation to the church to relax a little, to enjoy this time that reminds us of why we do what we do?

The light has come.  It has come already!  We are pointing to what the world has already been graced with.  God is with us!
It really is time to lighten up and join in with what God is doing!

Thus the theme, Lighten Up! 

[On Tuesday of each week through Advent I will post a resource on Candour for you to use, borrow, adapt (or ignore) the following Sunday.  It will include a bible passage, a photograph, some words, and a question for quiet reflection.
The idea is that you might invite people into a gentle reflective space at the start of weekly worship so that even our worship is entered into lightly!]

Words & Images by Martin Stewart unless otherwise stated