Rejuvenation Series: What can we learn from our statistics? Dr Margaret Galt

New Zealand is WEIRD. We belong to a group of countries that are Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich and Democratic and which think in a particular way. The acronym WEIRD is apt given how foreign that way of thinking would be to most people– both living and dead.

WEIRD societies see religious belief as an individual preference and see the growth of non-belief as benign. Continue reading

Good Friday

I wrote the following poem after preparing a reflection for the Easter chapel service at St Andrew’s College.  It ended up at the end of the reflection.  I am keen to encourage poems and reflections and prayers to be part of the Candour resource.  So many of us are using our imaginations week by week and the outcome of what we develop tends to get one outing before being shelved.  I offer this by way of encouragement!  Please feel welcome to begin a conversation by sending some of your writing… martin(at)

A painting I first encountered as an 18 year old prompted me to reflect on the face of Christ and the various faces I wear and have worn.  The painting is Jesus Bearing The Cross by Hieronymus Bosch (1515 or so).  The face of Christ is of a man at peace deep within despite what is happening to him.  You can glance at it here:

I want a face that reveals
I want a face that reveals
what is going on inside me.
It is not that I want to show off
the speed of my understanding
For most of my understandings
have taken so much time to sink in
that the face I wore at the time
I first heard any revelation
is long forgotten.

Nor is it because I am now
so happy with what is inside me
that the beauty of what lies within
will radiate all the loveliness
of my soul at peace.

No, I want a face that reveals
that fear no longer dominates.

I want a face that reveals
openness to the wind
confidence in the light
ease with my neighbour
forgiveness of those who would harm me
a posture of delight in the possibility of things…

A face so free,
that I can be courageous
even when descending into a mess.

martin stewart

Rejuvenation Series: Some theological notes. Steve Taylor

Rejuvenation in the Church: some theological notes

Much of my thinking about a theology of rejuvenation was shaped during the early days of a difficult change process. I was working with a traditional church experiencing steady decline. Expecting resistance, I referred often in my sermons to the numerical decline of the last few decades. After a few months, an older gentleman commented quietly, “It wasn’t all bad you know.”

The comment got me thinking. Were my references to decline working against our shared desire for rejuvenation? Continue reading

Imagination Series – Andrew Norton



At the end of the road 
a dirt track zig zags up the mountain 
into the clouds of unknowing. 
To be here you must leave there 
(wherever “there” is), 
defying the gravity of your own importance, 
the unfaithful way this busy world offers itself to you 
and the blindness of a life without a horizon.

As reception fades to one intermittent bar, 
contact with the outside world is all but 
leaving you 
under this wide sky 
to a wider conversation 
worthy of the landscape of your soul.

Shy shadows come out from their corners, 
ears hear a silence splinter granite rocks; 
the lies and excuses you’ve told yourself, 
and eyes are renewed by a soft gaze 
as outlines become clear. 
In this place, 
words are surrendered to the wind, 
to the arriving of your breath.

Andrew Norton 2016

Rejuvenation Series: To the extent that clergy lead change, there will be no change. Mark Johnston

A church leader wrote to me recently with a nagging question generated by the following excerpt:

“To the extent that clergy lead change, there will be no change……… It is counterintuitive, but when clergy function as innovators, they actually foster a culture that shuts down the innovation of others. My observation in working with countless clergy and congregations Continue reading


The Amuri Hills at Hanmer Springs provided some beautiful space for reflection this week where Andrew Norton was leading a collection of people from Alpine Presbytery to the land of ‘Awake!’
Hanmer 1

“…everything that becomes visible is light.
Therefore it says,
‘Sleeper, awake!
    Rise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.’”

you would want
to be awake
early these days

when autumnal skies
pick up summer’s dust
refracting the light of dawn

you would want to find
a high place where you could
take off your shoes

in the clean air
before winter’s banked fires
smoke the atmosphere

you would want
to keep silence

the sacred space
between dreaming and working

you would want to be
washed by the emerging colour
as the things of the day come into focus

you are ready then
to attend to
the food
the paper
the conversation
and the beckoning tasks

martin stewart 2016