31 May, 2019 Report and analysis on Hope Project 2019

Initial analysis of Hope Project 2019 

The below summarises the 2019 Easter effort and discusses the strategic responses we might have to make.

The broader goals this effort sits within are then re-articulated, and then I strategically analyse the challenges we face regarding the future viability, despite a broad appreciation of then and desire to see this ‘respectful and considered public Christian voice’ existing.


Public outcomes (reach)

We are very pleased with the recent Easter project. A brief report will be written in another months time once online data has been collected and analysed.  However, the outcomes generally matched Hope Project 2018. Please see the blue report down the right-hand column of this webpage – AllTogether.co.nz/hopeproject. We thank God.


We are grateful to all who supported – however the total givings were inadequate for the project.

The most revealing statistic was that only 74 churches contributed to the project, out of an approximate 3500 churches nationally, while 386 individuals donated. The number of financially-participating churches was notably low.

As at 31 May 2019 we have a $150,000 shortfall. This is personally underwritten by team members.


In the immediate, this makes our wider strategic work for the gospel difficult.

  • Significantly strategic resource development is planned for 2019. I (Dave Mann) am personally avoiding travel in the July – November period to achieve this, in view of what might yet be enabled  in the new few years as a result.
  • The highly important Godtalk.nz youth initiative is without funds, which makes operations a challenge.
  • With Tony Collis travelling nationally this winter (and Dave a little also), we have various operating costs to still cater for.

Regarding significant staffing deficiencies: Many would be unaware that our organisation continues with a total full-time-equivalent staff count of only 2. The reason we can still do what we do is because of an ability to build volunteer teams that have skilled people in them. However, very few oversee the management of these teams. This ‘bottle neck’ is annually recognised as the greatest risk to our organisations ongoing viability. A full time management staff is desperately needed.

Regarding Hope Project Christmas

  • The decision will have to be to proceed without a budget. Because strategies are strong, this is possible (see AllTogether.co.nz/Christmas).
  • We hope to somehow find $20,000 for social media – however cannot realistically release funds to this until debts are paid, and beyond October will need to focus finances on Easter 2020 for that national effort to be viable.
  • Re what can be achieved for Christmas without funds, I have purposefully travelled to talk with a range of professionals connected with our work over the past month, and remarkable volunteerism has offered. We thank God!
  • In short, we can achieve a national effort with graphics, promotion and communications to churches and individuals, and a range of creative options that will help nativity scenes be returned to public view nationally at Christmas.

Regarding changes to Hope Project Easter 2020

  • The final decision on Hope Project 2020 will likely be set for October 2019.
    • If debts remained, the board would likely be reluctant to embrace the scale of risk involved, because underwriting is felt to be necessary. If debts are significantly reduced, or cleared, we will likely proceed.
  • To reduce the budget further we are all-but agreed already to (1) shorten the booklet length by one third, by including only one topic area from history instead of two, while also (2) canceling the paid-for delivery of booklets to towns and cities, instead asking local churches / believers to do this.
    • For awareness: This is already a very low-cost media effort for the scope achieved.
  • Benefit of this change: It will endear increased ‘ownership’ of the efforts by the NZ Church as a whole

The bigger vision within which this sits (to give a context for a forward-looking analysis)

The Hope Project is seeking to bring an awareness of Christ back to the public during Easter and Christmas in Aotearoa-New Zealand. The plan is to have THREE annual media efforts that give profile to Christ and the continuing presence, work and message of his people across our nation:

(i) Hope Project Easter – putting Christ back into Easter from 2018 onwards

(ii) Hope Project Christmas – putting Christ back into Christmas from 2019 onwards 

(iii) Hope Project Family – highlighting what Kiwi churches are doing for families from 2020 onwards.

These are ‘branding’ efforts that share the gospel, plus vital areas of story that can affect public perspectives on the place of Christianity within our nation.

This kind of national voice can only exist if the Kiwi Church unites to enable it. This is easily affordable – within the scale of the Kiwi Church. (Many hundreds of millions go through Kiwi churches annually).


Why this goal?

A public conversation is in process in our nation about the place of Christianity within our nation.

  • Is Christianity an imposition of colonisation? The public generally think it is, when history tells a different story.
  • Is this a Christian nation – as measured by heritage and values? The public have been led to believe not, when a fair study, according to those measures, reveals that we are.
  • (And our inadequate engagement with the above two questions is why we face this third question: Why do we continue to give ‘privilege’ to Christian things when there are now many religions in our nation?)

These stories are not going to be told to our people by government, public media or education.

We have the power together to engage this conversation – with God’ story, and to influence public sentiment nationally! 



In analysing our work, it is my believe that an insufficient perspective of our unity and oneness as God’s Church (as a whole nationally, and within cities) exists to endear belief that considered and strategic innovation in and for public engagement could even exist. As a result – because this kind of engagement is a focus-area within our work, what we do and deliver is beyond expectation, and therefore beyond general consideration and notice. This leaves our work inadequately supported – and certainly so in contrast to the strategic nature of engagement, with notable successes. (Others are free to make their own assessment – which I’d love to hear!)


In terms of where the Shining Lights Trust might be leading the way in our nation, I would firstly note innovations in (i) public media engagement, (ii) outreach equipping content and media, (iii) equipping strategies for churches, (iv) youth outreach equipping and mobilisation and in (v) online public engagement. These are all leading innovations in their fields. The scope of engagement and/or involvement in each case is significant. Each or these five areas could legitimately be set up as an entirely separate organisation, too then seek funding individually as a strategic national ministry. Having five leading innovations in one organisation is therefore problematic – and beyond expectation (which leaves it beyond strategic comprehension and consideration)

  • Our ministry has numerous ‘brands’ because it has numerous innovations.
  • Of note – not every innovative idea is attempted, and not every attempted idea works. Those noted are only those that have worked thus far.
  • Sometimes people have said to me that they think we do too many things. I sincerely consider all feedback. However, my conclusion has each time been that innovation in ‘outreach’ is what we are gifted and called to do, and that (combined with volunteers found in each area) is why we do many things. I believe this to be evidenced by the success of numerous initiatives, and all within a comparatively short period of time (nearly 9 years of work currently).

But there is even more innovation than this: If our wider team is considered, we are leaders in a couple of other areas also. One would be (vi) the communication of the Christian dynamics in our bicultural story to public audiences. Nearly every other resource and innovation in this area has been for churches. The widest-reaching two efforts for public audiences are both from our team; Hope Project Easter, and ‘The Chronicles of Paki’ illustrated history series. Both also have continuing resource development in process right now (i.e. there is more innovation in process right now to reach even wider audiences).

Another area relates to our role as (vii) strategic facilitators (amongst a small few) of discussions regarding the role and function of city pastors’ groups. We are able to engage this conversation with pastors across the full geography of our nation due to our privileged opportunity to connect with these groups  in 60+ cities/towns, which we have done numerous times.

  • Another national trip (4 months of travel for team members – with Tony Collis as the primary spokes-persson) is beginning at this time of writing.
  • Concurrently we are launching my book titled ‘In One Spirit‘ (purchase online here). This book is purposed to provoke and feed this highly strategic conversation we are engaged in – with a view to changing the thinking of church leaders nationally on the value and importance of our unity, and especially regarding the need for increased united function at the city and national levels as the Church in this nation.

This is a unique work – while also being very important from a strategic perspective.


Another (viii) might also be Tony Collis’ ‘One Million Children’ initiative – which was birthed out of conversations in connection with our work (he is one of our itinerant presenters). Research conducted on the state of Christian children’s ministry throughout NZ, through our conversations during meeting with city/town pastors’ groups, revealed a picture. Christian children’s ministry is in notable decline nationally. That picture moved Tony to action. The distinction here – like with the publishing efforts above, is that this innovation is not structurally under the Shining Lights Trust. It was, however, in-part at least, a product of the bold and believing innovative team environment that has been created here.

The challenge of our longer-term viability in it is therefore the breadth of what we are innovation – which exceeds expectation, and therefore due consideration.

We ask for increased consideration on scope of what is being both attempted and achieved here.

Please release us to work in our gifting as faith-based ‘entrepreneurs’ in outreach.

To connect and support:

  • Individuals can subscribe for prayer updates at the bottom of the homepage at AllTogether.co.nz.
  • As churches, subscribe for the pastors updates at the bottom of the same homepage.

There is no ‘subscription’ fee, though donations are welcomed and requested.


Donations can be made via AllTogether.co.nz/donate.

A final thank you to our outstanding volunteer teams!

If not for the many skilled volunteers who have joined our various teams, this work would be sunk.

Thank you for your faith, shared expertise and energy. It is a true privilege to work with you!

In view of our limitations we see together that God alone has enabled all this. As expressed in team meetings, our weakness is surely his plan, for his glory. We thank him!



DAVE MANN. Dave is a creative communicator with a vision to see an understanding of the Christian faith continuing, and also being valued, in the public square in Aotearoa-New Zealand. He has innovated numerous conversational resources for churches, and recently coordinated a 5th nationwide multimedia Easter project purposed to help open conversation between church and non-church people about Christianity take place, including regarding the specifically Christian origins of many of our nation’s most treasured values. Dave is the author of various books and booklets including “Because we care”, “That Leaders might last”, “The Elephant in the Room”, and available for free on this site: “The What and How of Youth and Young Adult ministry”. Married  to Heather, they have four young boys and reside in Tauranga, New Zealand.  
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