Help! We’ve got a conflict! – Heather Kennedy

In my involvement at presbytery and in my ministry, I have seen – and been caught up in – many conflict situations. Some of the insights I have gained, I am happy to share with you all. I do not propose to give you a check-list to tick, or a quick fix resolution, or even new information you haven’t already explored in order to resolve conflict situation.

One of the key pieces of advice I would like to share is: Be Prepared. You will undoubtedly encounter conflict, and probably have already: it cannot be avoided. Continue reading

Accusing Jesus – Stuart Vogel

VermeerOver recent years, I have had a fascination with the great Dutch painter, Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675). Vermeer had the rare artistic ability to capture a particular moment – and make it eternal.  A little like the gospel writer, Luke.

Recently at the Auckland Taiwanese Presbyterian Church I preached on the story in Luke 10, of Jesus in Mary and Martha’s home. In 1655, Vermeer painted the scene in his painting “Christ in the House of Mary and Martha”. 1655 was within the final years that the Netherlands controlled Formosa (Taiwan) as a colonial power. Continue reading

Youth worker vs youth minister – Gordon Fitch

Gordon Fitch is national youth manager with Presbyterian Youth Ministry. In this article he explores the difference between youth workers and youth ministers and encourages a focus on employing youth ministers.

Youth worker, youth leader, youth pastor, youth coordinator, youth director: there are a lot of titles given to a person who heads up a church’s ministry with young people.

No matter what the title is, I believe there are two types of positions, and I’m going to call them a youth worker and a youth minister. 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

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!

 

 

Volatile Uncertain Complex Ambiguous

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

The world as we know it can be understood using the acronym VUCA: volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.

What do each of these words demand of us?

Volatility requires extra margins so that energy, time and resource don’t run out during unexpected crises. Keeping good boundaries should include the (five in this case) cornerstones of the whare: taha wairua (spiritual health), taha whānau (relational health), taha tinana (physical health), taha hinengaro (intellectual health) and taha pütea (financial health) – and probably other areas too.

Uncertainty requires resting deeply in identity. We might not know what the heck is going on, but we can take comfort in the fact that we’re called, empowered and sustained for such a time as this. Also, sometimes offence is the best form of defence. We have the potential and power within us to thrive in this new world.

Complexity requires an adaptive spirit, a fertile and conversational thought-world, and the freedom to move with speed and skill.

Ambiguity requires us to see that we actually don’t have the answers already, and that’s OK. It’s impossible to know what will ‘work’ or not. In an age where precedents don’t exist, we’re to embrace both systematic and spontaneous experimentation. Our mindset must be for adventure; our eyes toward the horizon; our attitude one of bravery.

In a VUCA world we get to be vibrantly and undeniably confident, assured that our best days are ahead of us.

“So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit…” (Acts 13:4)

A time to Zag – Andrew Norton

Andrew is based in Auckland and the following article is based on reflections spoken at his retirement as senior minister at St Columba in Botany Downs.

Down on the farm my father taught me, when everyone is planting wheat it’s time to plant barley. There is no demand for over-supply.

As I think about this in relation to the church’s unique contribution to today’s society, I see an over-supply of some things and correspondingly an under-supply of others.

The decline of church attendance over the years is not because the church is no longer relevant but exactly the opposite. The church looks in every way, just like our society, it is no different to the world we live in. Continue reading