The little church that could

Lisa Wells recently shared this story at the the Australian Association of Mission Studies Conference. The story is of a Hamilton church which is re-imagining its future, and making that future happen.

vision2missionblog

I presented the following paper at the Australian Association of Mission Studies Conference in July 2017.  The conference theme was: “Imagining Home: Understanding, Reconciling and Engaging with God’s Stories Together” and my presentation was of a church PressGo had worked with and helped with funding and its missional journey.

NawtonIntroduction

When church is at its best it is a vital community of believers, called out by God, under the authority of Jesus Christ.  When it is at its worst it is a social club or a historical preservation society. To paraphrase Longfellow’s poem “That Little Girl” – “when [church] is good it is very, very good, and when [it’s] bad it is horrid.” Sometimes we even make church in our own image…

Most of the churches I work with in my role of Mission Catalyst within the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand are somewhere between good and bad…

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Why churches should partner with secular community groups – Jose Reader

Jose Reader is currently the Church’s associate communications manager, and has filled various roles within the Presbyterian Church’s communications team over the last 12 years.

This article from Christianity Today poses an interesting question: “How can we be light in the darkness when we only hang out with other candles?”. Author, Karl Vaters, explains how his Church used to partner exclusively with other Christian ministries, and now up to half the groups that they partner with for local community service are not Christian-based.

“No, we haven’t gone soft on our faithfulness to the gospel. And we have standards for those we will and will not partner with,” he says in the article.

His words resonated with me, because over the years I have worked in this role, I have heard many concerns about how we are in danger of watering down the gospel message to connect with people outside the church. One thing I took out of the article was that mission with the community and the sharing the gospel are not mutually exclusive; they can, and do, live side-by-side – certainly in Karl’s congregation, and no doubt in many of our Presbyterian and Uniting parishes around the country.

Read and be inspired by what this congregation is getting out of partnering with non-church groups: 8 reasons churches should partner with secular community groups – [link to: http://www.christianitytoday.com/karl-vaters/2017/march/8-reasons-churches-partner-secular-community-groups.html] (Thanks to Lisa Wells for sharing this article with me.)

 

Ecclesiastical memes III – Darryl Tempero

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

It’s time to change our language folks.

I started my ministry when I was 7 or 8 years old.

‘That’s cute’ I hear you say, while thinking ‘but you didn’t start real ministry until you were ordained.’  Some may say, ‘you didn’t start real ministry until the church employed you.’ Maybe more gracious people would suggest I started ministry when I started volunteering in the church, Continue reading

The Edge – Sharon Ross Ensor

The Edge is an occasional column in Candour written by people who exercise a ministry outside the usual congregational context.  How do things look from the edge?

Friends on the edge – Sharon Ross Ensor

After I stepped away from parish ministry and took up my part-time role with the Presbyterian Church Schools’ Resource Office, I realised that I had time available to spend on volunteer work and made a conscious decision to do something that was outside of my usual church involvement.

So at the end of 2015 I trained to be a Red Cross Refugee Support Volunteer. Continue reading

Ecclesiastical Memes II – Darryl Tempero

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

It’s time to change our language folks.

First off, let me ask you something – Where do you go to family?

When I ask people that, they name a place where their family live and they go visit them there.  I push back and suggest that’s where they go to a family gathering, but it’s not the only place their family gathers.  Eventually we settle on the fact that this question doesn’t make sense.  We don’t go to family, we are family. Continue reading

St Paul’s Opunake: the light shines again

A walk-through Christmas display is one of the many new ways St Paul's is serving its community

A walk-through Christmas display is one of the many new ways St Paul’s is serving its community

Four years ago, St Paul’s was a church with a congregation of 25 in the rural town of Opunake in Taranaki (population 1360). They had no employed minister and no children or families attending their Sunday worship or connected with their church.

The leaders decided that if they were to survive they would need to focus on mission. But where should they start? Continue reading

Rejuvenation Series: Finding ways that don’t work for church by Darryl Tempero

I worry sometimes that I am not failing enough. To discover new ways of being church we need to try new things, which means taking a risk that it might not work. Experimentation and failure are vital – with one major problem, it’s no fun to fail. Do I have the patience or courage to fail? Do we see ‘risk’ as a positive or negative word? Continue reading

Rejuvenation Series: Mission as the Catalyst for Rejuvenation by Lisa Wells

 

It seems so obvious doesn’t it?  A congregation takes their eyes off themselves and opens up to join God in mission in the community and then in this act of love, faith and sacrifice – finds itself transformed.  That’s a good thing, right?

So what stops many congregations from doing just that? I think it’s because it’s too difficult.  Too risky.  To uncertain.  Who know where it may lead?

We struggle to let go of the thought that once “everyone” was part of the church and we were the hub of the community.  We grew by natural reproduction – our members had babies and they “belonged” to the church.  Continue reading