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

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

Possibility People – Jill Kayser

“She’s very passionate isn’t she?” was a common response to my Kids Friendly sharing over the past 14 years. My ecumenical friends would call me ‘the passionate Presbyterian’ which some of them rather cheekily suggested is a misnomer (let’s hope not!)  I don’t mind being remembered as the ‘passionate Presbyterian’, but what I’d really love to be remembered as is a possibility person. Continue reading

The Burden of Being Jesus – Andrew Nicol

“I am not Jesus.” There you go, I admit it. My psych test at National Assessment was a bit of an ordeal, but there wasn’t a specific probe into messianic aspirations. I wonder if I’m the only one who’s slipped through?

What I mean is this—of course I understand I’m not quite like the messiah, but in reality I can behave as if my purpose is to be Jesus for others, or on slow days maybe his ‘hands and feet’. I’m beginning to suspect, however, that my family and congregation have spotted some potential discrepancies. Continue reading

Be yourself – but not too much! – Silvia Purdie

Silvia Purdie reflects on the place of ‘self’ in ministry practice and finds herself in two spaces – in Christ and in Middle Earth!  Silvia ministers at Cashmere Presbyterian Church in Christchurch.

I’ve just finished my 3-yearly Ministry Development Review. In the interview I said to my reviewer that what matters most to me at this stage in my ministry is to be less driven by other people’s expectations and agendas and to be more fully and simply who I am. Continue reading

Ecclesiastical Memes – V

Darryl is the Mission Coach for Alpine Presbytery and Minister of Kiwi Church, a new-ish congregation in Christchurch.  This is the fifth and final part of his series on the names we call ourselves by.

We need new words to help us imagine the future church.  This episode continues from Memes IV, where I suggested we replace clergy with other words (like Player Coach), and I promised this blog would attend to the word ‘lay.’

It is really hard to come up with another word. Continue reading

Ecclesiastical Memes IV – Darryl Tempero

Darryl is the Mission Coach for Alpine Presbytery and Minister of Kiwi Church, a new-ish congregation in Christchurch.

We need new words to describe our life together as church, and why we do church. A new language might help us imagine a new future.

This week’s word: Clergy.

It’s an interesting word. Every organisation, industry, institution and so on, has their inner group, the ones who are trained, set apart (ordained?) for special roles. That makes complete sense.  We need people who focus on these areas and are seen by others as someone who has a bit of a clue of what is going on.  The problem is that the movement we are part of is God’s way of doing things Continue reading