20 May, 2024 SLT leadership statement: Next areas we hope to innovate within

Areas we next intend to innovate within

Overview comments

– Dave Mann (Director, Shining Lights Trust)

Our felt calling is to innovate within ‘gaps’ we identify in the outreaching efforts of the NZ Church as a whole.

While some resulting innovations are specifically about the Christian message of hope itself, many are about the wider context and conversation. Some pertain to national identity; some to history; many to Church unity; and some to community needs.

A person who is negative toward our faith won’t be open to a conversation. Feeling lost for hope – they won’t consider a hope shared due to prejudice. That prejudice is within their thinking. How, then, do we engage that wider conversation – to change the public narrative? In what ways could we engage to become the recipients of greater favour within public media, and within local councils – opening doors for intentional partnership, to deliver services to our communities? With all that is being done through individual churches and denominations considered, what isn’t being seen or considered? What are the gaps?

With maybe a dozen innovations behind us – and over 500 support resources created in connection with them, we feel God has more for us to do yet. In 2025 we therefore hope to ‘reposition’. We need ongoing financial support for our work – rather that only for ‘Hope Project’.  We also need to find a way to COMPLETE some areas of innovation – so we can be freed to give timely attention to others.  

If God graces us to do so, we would like to innovate in outreach in more ways than we have. What if the below could be accomplished by 2030, with various spin-off innovations and efforts that would naturally follow?

Continuing areas of work

We see strong merits in continuing the following areas of work 

  • Hope Project Easter and Christmas 
  • Godtalk.nz (which – if other goals are successful – can be ‘reduced’ to ‘just a resource)
  • Why Christians Believe 
  • 10 Day Challenge 
  • Proactive national networking amongst city/town pastors’ groups
  • Proactively remaining a ‘voice for outreach’ to pastors, via prayer partners, to youth leaders (networking – databases – communications).
  • Sustaining a range of other support resources, primarily around outreach equipping and history. 

Within this picture ‘re-establishing’ Hope Project Easter will be a significant and endeavour, requiring clear thought. Sustaining a national effort, with scale, year upon year from a small team has maybe taken its toll. Without question, the effort remains needed, with the interests of the wider Church in view in a changing culture. The effort has been underfunded – and therefore understaffed. New partnerships are needed. These efforts are also difficult to pull off each time, noting the scope of networking and relational connection needed even just for the volunteer delivery component. The year off of the Easter booklet and TV components in 2025 is therefore with reason. (Online components will continue in 2025, pending funds).

Upcoming areas of work

Everything below is ‘God-willing’. We are not boasting in the claim we will do these things. We are stating our personal desire and intent – in the hope of God’s favour to do what we have a heart to do, and vision for how to do.


Regarding timelines, we are thinking 2030.

 1. A values history resource

Something needs doing to interrupt the secular narrative of our nation – which is also within the psyche of many church leaders. This narrative is not true to history or who we are as a nation – but few know this. How could we ‘interrupt’? The thought is the creation of simple, illustrated book on our nation’s wider values history – that is then gifted widely to leaders who have ability to influence public conversation.  

  • This will primarily require Dave’s time in research, drafting and then significant editing and also graphic design, to create a genuinely unique resource.
  • The design quality must be well above-average – with Hope Project’s design quality as a template.
  • The writing must be exceptionally concise and clear. The challenge of the writing will be in the scope of history and ‘cultural reason’ communicated – simply.
  • Regarding promotions, the vision is to see this unique resource in the hands of all politicians, local Government officials, pastors, various academics and also any significant others who in key leadership roles with ability to shape and influence public culture. 

This is about interrupting the secular narrative, achieved by showing various national and local leaders something of our own wider values history, in an attempt to shift this particular conversation more to the forefront in New Zealand. This is also timely, playing into a clear wider ‘post-secular’ trend within Western Civilisation globally. 

Proposed timeline:  

  • Writing in 2024 and 2025 
  • Design, first promotion – and then print in 2026, concurrent with a plan for distribution / gifting. 


2. Serving the vision of seeing a bicultural history innovation completed

Sometimes Kingdom and Gospel entrepreneurship is about seeing a good vision completed before considering anything new. What could be most effective?

The ‘Chronicles of Paki’ illustrated series is not a part of our work. However, because of its honesty around the Christian dynamic within that history, seeing its vision COMPLETED fits directly within our own objectives. It is a unique resource, and uniquely able to sit within public education.

Its original vision was (1) a series of 20 stories telling a ‘macro’ story of our bicultural history, (2) with a matching ‘Junior Series (2) and then translations (into Te Reo Māori) of all stories – (4) then promoted one by one to schools nationally in an intentional and considered way, to see them not only most school libraries but also positioned with a strong chance of classroom use. 

  • This now needs an expanded team suiting our changing bicultural landscape. 
  • A full release of rights to the series is possible – meaning this could be repositioned as the resource of a suitable (secular) education-focused charity or work. 


Why this project? 

  • As above, this is unique and worthy at an above-average level.  
  • To be started and not completed makes not sense, if public opinion matters (which it does).  
  • It is also a project that can be completed. Once the series is fully created, and then promoted school-by-school, its goal is achieved! 
Strategic comment for God’s united Church

– What if God’s method is to raise people up with vision in different seasons, to innovate things that address national needs – to see those innovations done / completed?

– For an example separate to our work, we highlight the ‘Tarore Gospel of Luke’ in this same category. Much good has been achieved, but not yet the vision of its originator Paul Anselmi. It is maybe $200,000 shy of achieving its full vision – and that amount, while a lot of an individual church, is not even a drop in the bucket when compared to our annual expenditure on church salaries and buildings as 3000 churches spread across this nation (which we estimate at about $250,000,000 annually).

– What if a way we could grow or improve together as churches was through developing a sufficiently united viewpoint (which necessitates wise and strategic communication lines – to note it) to be able to identify and actually COMPLETE some of the more worthy and genuinely strategic national gospel-related initiatives God brings about through his people?

Action points 

  • Our key role would be to try to find a team courageous and suitable to take this vision on, with ability to engage confidently with Iwi / hapu / whanau in an increasingly challenging space. This would be a volunteer team – joining the existing team – who continue to believe in the vision, and who are happy to relinquish all rights over the resource, to see it achieving its intended purpose.  
  • About $50,000 to $80,000 more would be needed for ‘raw costs’ (print / stock). But finding a suitable team is the challenge here. Few have courage to play in this space currently.

3. HeLP Project

(…or any mixture of equivalent initiatives to INTENTIONALLY bring positive profile to the Christian faith

HeLP Project is the third part of our proposed Hope Project vision. We believe this innovation is needed. We believe that every day it continues not to exist is also to our detriment – as the NZ Church.

  • HeLP Project is currently stalled, primarily for financial reasons. It needs a mere $300,000 to $400,000pa. Having shared the vision, we were stunned by the lack of response. 
  • Our strategic assessment remains resolute in belief that this is needed.
  • As strategists with 14 years experience playing on the national platform, what is proposed is the most efficient way we can see a range of outcomes being accomplished.
    • We note that others considering initiating something similar themselves seem to see only one outcome at a time. This is inefficient and unfortunate in our opinion.
  • However, it makes no difference to us if these outcomes can be successful. Innovation in this space is needed – for the gospel – and at this point in time! 
  • Work achieved: We have given almost three years of ongoing through to this initiative. This includes branding work, partnerships, the preparation of a highly considered survey, connected to a database systems, with complicated data-to-web integration all-but lined up.  (We aren’t building the website until it is needed.)
  • What is needed: This is pending only its financing – after which we will seek its needed staffing.  
  • Local offer to cities: We are interested in partnering with the churches of any city interested in testing this. They get all the benefits – for a fraction of what anything similar would cost them were they to attempt a component of this. (We are keen to test our system).
  • If launched (nationally), the first year would be an enormous effort, requiring about $400,000 – and with almost no media spend. Beyond that one staff, a half time admin and a media spend would sustain the public engagement component (Ext. $300,000pa). 
  • If launched, this effort would ‘over deliver’. We believe it is worth ten times the funding stated.

For now, no further work is planned until a door opens.


4. Some areas of intentional networking – with a future-looking national view

4a. Youth unity and critical mass for momentum:  

We are networking in the youth space with quiet intent, to see the unity and outreach vision outlined within the ‘Godtalk’ part of this report come about in our nation. We are up to ‘round three’ in this effort, with prior groups of leaders in national youth roles declining to have ‘unity’ as a united goal – much to our bewilderment and dismay. There is a current ‘change of the guard’ and a new strategic partner for this. Were the effort successful, our own name and brand (Godtalk / SLT) would not be present in what results.  

As a secondary matter, if the above vision came about, we would then reposition Godtalk itself as ‘just a resource’ – noting it is needed and unique. We would then try to see the Godtalk ’school outreach groups video series’ created – utilising key youth leaders in the current national picture, to give them mana – and the resource its needed subservient and yet known place. At that time, this would need about $15,000 to create via friends.

This would COMPLETE another of our proposed strategic solution to a recognised ‘gap’ in the outreaching efforts of the NZ Church as a whole. However, first things come before second things. The networking goals that can change the ‘rules of the game’ are what is most important here.


4b. United church profile in cities and increased engagement: 

We are pursuing a background strategic outcome in the ‘family and marriage support’ space – for the sake of the gospel. This is about a networking of ideas – with no up-front leadership intended from us if possible. This initiative is in the interests of all national ‘family’ ministries. It is simple and sensible – and yet is the sort of thing that is consistently overlooked because each leader is busied trying to keep their own work alive.  


Were the platform for this initiative to come about – and the idea to then gain traction, we would again be invisible within that picture.

The simple idea is articulated here – AllTogether.co.nz/servingfamilies

  • The ‘law of the 5’ we base much of our efforts around states that, only when a person hears something from five seemingly independent sources do they consider and conclude that it might be true. This process exists as a coping mechanism within our media saturated, information-overloaded society.
  • A united promotion of this idea ‘as our own idea’ – by all – could see churches uniting in each city and town to apply it.
  • Everyone would benefit – including the ministries supplying resources, pastors groups, local churches, church members, people in their communities and God’s Church and gospel by way of the the positive reputation this would bring to our churches.

Strategic solutions don’t get simpler than this. (And yet, human nature within us all makes this difficult. We work to see that change!) 

5. Engage Conference:

As at May 2024 we see value in running another national ‘Engage Conference’ sometime soon – with a range of purposes in view.

  • Most ‘Engage Conferences’ we have done have been regional. E.g. we ran 10 regional conferences in 2021.  
  • The content in these conference is unique – as far as NZ church conferences goes.
  • Our work needs the profile – to help Christian believers see what we do rather than only ‘Hope Project’, to enable our work.
  • The voices of the ‘outreaching practitioners’ we would give the stage to would catalyse great encouragement. Most would be current pastors.
  • The vision of the ‘gaps’ we see in outreach – which we would share – might catalyse new innovation by others. This has immense value because, a goal far greater than innovation from the Shining Lights Trust is the releasing of a new spirit of innovation for outreach across the NZ Church! 

We make no promise to complete any of the above-noted new areas of innovation. Everything is, as we Christians say, ‘God-willing’.

Please support our work. Our organisation is currently like a car in second gear.

Dave Mann

021 271 7719



DAVE MANN. Dave is a networker and 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 has coordinated various national nationwide multimedia Easter efforts purposed to open up conversations between church and non-church people about the Christian faith and its significance to our nation’s history and values. Dave is the Producer of the ‘Chronicles of Paki’ illustrated NZ history series created for educational purposes, and the author of various other books and booklets including “Because we care”, “That Leaders might last” and “The Elephant in the Room”. Married to Heather, they have four boys and reside in Tauranga, New Zealand.

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