Women of the Burning Bush: Still Burning 25 Years On – Dr Vivienne Adair

This research came across my desk today, and I thought it would be of interest to Candour readers.

Women of the Burning Bush: Still Burning 25 Years On is a study of women in ministry within the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand. The research, led by Dr Vivienne Adair, follows research on the same topic commissioned by the Very Rev Margaret Reid Martin in 1990. Continue reading

Missional leadership on the road to Emmaus – Steve Taylor

Steve Taylor is the Principal of the PCANZ Knox Centre for Ministry & Leadership

Luke 10:1-12 is a favourite text in mission today. It presents mission as a journey.  Rather than “come to us” modes of attraction to church, mission is “playing away from home.” The disciples are sent by God to spend time in homes, amid the domestic life of local village communities.  They start by speaking the shalom of God to those they meet. Where that peace is welcomed, they stay, accepting the hospitality, respecting the culture and customs of the communities in which they minister. Continue reading

When the shit hits the fan – Silvia Purdie

A word of advice for newbies and old hands in ministry on dealing with stressful situations.
Silvia Purdie ministers at Cashmere in Christchurch.

Sooner or later in your ministry, things will get ugly. Shit happens. People get hurt. People get mad. And the underbelly of your coping strategies gets dragged out into the light. When that happens, how you respond as a church leader will make a huge impact on the outcomes. Continue reading

Ten tricks to create the best social media videos

Creating good quality video content for your parish’s social media channels will help you maximise the reach and impact of your message.

There are an estimated 2.3 million Kiwis using Facebook everyday, and of those New Zealanders who go online, 81% use YouTube, and 46% use Instagram (and that’s only a few of the more common social media platforms). That’s a lot of people with whom we can share the Good News… Continue reading

Fake News, Modernity, & Sin by Peter Matheson

Peter Matheson is an active thinker still building on his interesting ministry (among other ministries) as Professor of Church History at Knox College.

Bewildering, but hardly dull, living in our post-truth culture! The twittering never stops.  From the President of the USA down to inanities closer home the ether is dense with nonsense.  Often enough, too, it is dangerous nonsense. Continue reading

From Reform to Renewal: Scotland’s Kirk, Century by Century – Review by Kerry Enright

Reform to RenewalFinlay MacDonald’s book From Reform to Renewal: Scotland’s Kirk, Century by Century is a help to discerning what it’s worth holding on to, and what needs letting go in the Presbyterian Church.

It is a lively, fascinating and accessible account of the history of the Church of Scotland since the Protestant Reformation. Full of intriguing stories, it is eminently readable and maintains interest. It helped me understand more of how our Church gained its shape and identity. Experiences generations ago, often repeated, have nourished a wisdom that alerts us to practices that too easily harm people and compromise integrity.

The author, Finlay Macdonald, is a respected former principal clerk and Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. He is a good storyteller.

New Zealand pragmatism, the attractiveness of secular gods and generational hubris can lead us to discount valuable inherited practices. Our Church deserves appreciative inquiry of our past, of how we came to value certain principles and practices. We will not understand them unless we know their history. We will not properly apply our Book of Order without appreciating the history behind it. Finlay Macdonald’s book is a good account of that history. It speaks of a broad Church seeking to be faithful to the way of Jesus Christ. It describes a sibling Church facing challenges like our own. I commend it wholeheartedly.

Macdonald, F, (2017) From Reform to Renewal: Scotland’s Kirk, Century by Century, Edinburgh, Scotland: Saint Andrew’s Press.

Find book on Amazon

An offering to the powers that be – Martin Stewart

Martin is the editor of Candour and a minister in the team at The Village Church, Christchurch.

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A few weeks in Wellington I photographed Finn, my seven-month old grandson, revelling in the wonder of a Wellington gale.  I was about to head to the airport to fly home.  I was dreading the flight because of the intensity of the gale, and I was eventually held up on the tarmac for almost two hours because of that wind!  But there was Finn, throwing his head back in laughter as he delighted in the wonder of wind! Continue reading

The Zero Carbon Bill is open for consultation: why you should care… – Jordan Redding

Recently the Government opened a public consultation process on the upcoming Zero Carbon Bill. They are requesting online submissions from individuals and organisations as to how and in what timeframe Aotearoa transitions to a net zero economy.[1] Here’s why it’s worth taking the time to read the discussion document, and to consider making a submission as an individual, as a parish council, or to recommend it to your congregation. Continue reading

A Health Check on “Healthy Congregations” – Tom Mepham

Tom Mepham is a first-year ministry intern with KCML and a co-leader of Student Soul, a young adult congregation in Dunedin.

Since 1995’s General Assembly we have used a model for assessing the well-being of our Church called “Healthy Congregations” (see Appendix 1 in Strategic Directions). This provides us with a way to measure the health of each parish in the PCANZ. Putting this model to work would be the equivalent of sending a congregation to the doctor’s office for a full-scale health check up; and by extension, measuring the overall health of the whole PCANZ.

I wonder how healthy we are!

This model uses a qualitative assessment process (as is appropriate for measuring the most important things in church life) and focuses on four relationships: a congregation’s relationship with God; with the wider environment; with the wider church, and within it’s own life. (These are similar to the four relationships used in UK church circles: UP, OUT, OF, IN).

If I can read our most recent stats correctly (which is not a given, I assure you!), it appears that we have 273 parishes around the country. I don’t see the statistic about the number of congregations within these parishes, but the Mission Clarity document says 400. So I would like to know… how many congregations out of 400 would pass their “Healthy Congregation” check up?

Now, I fully appreciate that measuring health is an ongoing process, like sanctification, and it doesn’t just stop when a focus-group delivers a report. Even getting to the stage of having an accurate diagnosis of a congregation is a lot of work. So why bother going through with this measurement?

We bother, according to Strategic Directions, because “the local church is the agent of mission” and the whole point of being a national Church/denomination/network is that together we are more effective at “developing and sustaining healthy congregations for mission” than we would be alone.

I have some questions:

  1. How many of 400 congregations have undertaken a formal process to assess their health?
  2. How many are currently doing this process?
  3. What do we do with persistently unhealthy congregations?
  4. How many unhealthy congregations do we have?
  5. What percentage of our congregations need to be “healthy” to give the PCANZ as a whole a pass mark?
  6. Is there any way to measure the health of a denomination other than through a system-wide assessment of its congregations?

I’m not emotionally invested in the Healthy Congregations model. I was 9 years old when General Assembly approved it, and I haven’t read the minutes. Still, I can appreciate its value. Is it still a useful measure of our effectiveness in mission? If so, how do we ensure we’re putting it fully to work?

As it is a General Assembly gathering this year, maybe it’s a good time to ask for PCANZ to go for a check-up. We have a working measurement (and have had for 23 years). What’s the doctor going to say: are we headed for surgery? Going on a diet? Starting an exercise regime? Might we be talking hospice care? Or are the vital signs looking good?

Let’s find out!