The edge: Awake, Listen! Follow! – Roxy Gahegan

Roxy is the chaplain at St. Cuthbert’s college in central Auckland.

There are three things that have struck me deeply over the last ten years with regards to the teachings of Jesus and the way that we as church organise ourselves and live our faith and life journeys.

First of all, before my ordination training, I took classes in Church history (I had managed to avoid this entirely while studying for my theology degree back in the 90’s), and in one of the books I read, the author observed that even within the first 350 years of the Christian faith – before Constantine can be blamed for institutionalising us and aligning us with power and status – even before that, those who were perceived as heretical – doctrinally questionable or incorrect – were treated violently. Continue reading

Uniquely Presbyterian – Bruce Hamill

Bruce Hamill has written a response to Moderator of the Presbyterian Church, Rt Rev Richard Dawson’s comments in the Autumn edition of Spanz about what is distinct and unique about the Presbyterian tradition.

Richard’s musings in the most recent edition of Spanz (Editor’s note: read the article here – pg 3) helpfully focused a discussion that has been brewing for some time among Presbyterians in a period of declining interest in denominational difference. Continue reading

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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The Irrelevance of John Calvin – Murray Rae

Murray Rae is Professor of Theology at Otago University and a Presbyterian Minister.  He was also an editor of Candour in the 1990s.

When we look back to the sixteenth century, to the time of the Reformation, we see a world vastly different from our own. The great Reformer, John Calvin, could hardly have imagined the world we now inhabit. He might have struggled to recognise as well the present reality of the church — its form, its daily life, its existence on the margins of society. The form of society itself is also very different now than it was in Calvin’s day, and so the church faces challenges in mission that Calvin is unlikely to have envisaged. It is curious then to look back at reformers like Calvin, to figure out what made them tick, and to try to understand the concerns of their own time. Continue reading

Church & Change (with help from some visitors) – by Martin Stewart

Here’s an adapted reflection from a sermon I preached at The Village Church, Christchurch on 25 June.  The text was Matthew 10: 24–39.  The context was new buildings coming ready, and some voices wanting to go back to what we once had

As I have thought my way into this week’s reflection I have had a few visitors.

The first was Kobi Yamada and his book What Do You Do With An Idea?  I love the way the book evolves from black and white to full colour as the idea takes hold.  Isn’t that how ideas work out?  They turn up and try to speak into your already fixed view of things.  They are looked at, prodded and poked, often ridiculed, slept on, and either forgotten or picked up. Continue reading

Prayers On The Way – Martin Stewart

I have been experimenting this year on how I frame the prayers for congregational worship.  I’ve been calling the early prayers in the service of worship ‘Prayers on the way’ as a way of finding a language for what is going on for those who are strangers to some of the old language, and those of us who are bored by some of that stuff!  And I’ve been calling the prayers in the later parts of the service ‘Prayers for the road’.  The feedback from people has been positive, though quite a few others seem not to have noticed!

I wonder sometimes about what we lose when we step back from preparing prayers by either making them up in the moment, or borrowing  prayers from other sources.  Both practices, of course, have their place.  The prayers that rise up in the moment can be profound, but they risk carelessness in language and theology, and sameness in content. The prayers others have crafted can draw on a wonderful collection of prayers from those who have prayed before us and those who pray around us, but if not carefully curated and adapted, they risk being in a language and style that is far from the world of the people before us.  Both styles can also encourage a kind of laziness, where those who prepare worship simply bounce off for whatever is in their head or reach uncritically for whatever resource they can find to rescue them. Continue reading

5 reasons to celebrate 500 years since the Reformation with children – Jill Kayser

Jill Kayser is our epic PCANZ Kids Friendly Coach!

When asked to write an article on explaining the Reformation to children, I realised I needed to boost my own knowledge. Martin Luther gained some credibility in my mind some years back when I attended a conference led by an amazing Lutheran called Rich Melheim.  Listening to this ‘Luther-inspired’ man I had a ‘When Sally meets Harry’ experience: ‘I’ll have what she’s (he’s) having!’ and so I set out to discover what this ‘one man who changed the world’ 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