23 May, 2024 To further unity there is a needed context

To further unity there is a needed context

Solutions for big problems are sometimes remarkably simple.

Ironically, this can make them hard to see.

Here is a simple truth: Before unity in our nation can go to another level a needed CONTEXT somehow needs creating.


What is that context?

If we don’t talk about certain things, nothing will change!

> The context is the conversations we intentionally bring ourselves to have which shape the ‘culture’ and thinking that sits amongst us!

What conversations?

Consider carefully these examples.

  • If we don’t talk about the ‘pitfalls’ that undermine unity – our past errors are repeated.
  • If we don’t talk about keys to establishing functional unity – the needed action steps are not taken and the needed culture doesn’t develop.
  • If we don’t talk about the greater goal of unity – which I’d suggest to be sensible united mission-serving activity together for God’s glory (undertaken by church leaders and church members alike) – we might lose sight of the goal and unknowingly busy ourselves together with ‘unity activities’ that don’t actually serve the desired outcome very well. (How will we know if we don’t talk about it?)
  • If we don’t talk about the need for national united function in which city and town pastors’ groups serve visions that are bigger than themselves which thereby enables benefits for all that can come about no other way – then city and town pastors’ groups claim their own independence, and resist the idea of this.
  • If we don’t talk about the possibility of God raising up people to pioneer national initiatives that sit in the unity space (Family First, FSU, various smaller innovations in the scope of our own work including Hope Project, The Send, Te Hahi, Chronicles of Paki? The Tarore Gospel of Luke? etc – all ‘public square facing’)  – we’ll not recognise those people, or support their initiatives in their appointed season so they can thrive – with benefit to all.
  • And if we don’t talk about the possibly and plausibility of national changes that we can catalyse together (vs the idea that this is just an idealism) – we’ll have even pastors’ group convenors who have no actual vision for a united Church – with a vision no greater than united coffee and prayer!

Unity therefore significantly rises and falls on the vision and belief we have for itwhich in turn is contingent upon the above conversations, because it is these conversations that shape that vision and belief, inclusive of the values and perspectives needed for it to be applied

However, these are not topics that will likely ever be raised in the denominational context.


What to do?

Who can or will catalyse these important ‘disciple-making’ conversations amongst  church leaders?

> We need to choose the path of intentionality in our pastors’ groups.

Put differently, unity leaders cannot and must not abdicate their basic responsibility – which is to create a cultural context in the unity space that is conducive to health and united endeavour!

Without these conversations both happening and being very intentionally fed I suggest little to nothing will change.

(To resource you: This makes the kinds of articles that we – the Shining Lights Trust – create a ‘core material’ that pastors’ groups could consider and discuss! We put out about a dozen articles on unity this past year alone.)



  • Who can see the truth of this? (I.e. Discussing these topics intentionally – to build the needed context)
  • How could we get these conversations at the table more-often – nationally?
  • How could you get these conversations at the table more-often – locally?
  • Or should we give up on the goal – because it is an idealism?


Establishing the context / toward a conclusion

I suggest that the above kinds of conversations are like dining room conversation is to a family. They are essential for ‘togetherness’ and a common view.

  • Jesus’ vision in John 17 was of a functionally united church (‘that the world might know) – which means this vision is not an idealism. This is a theological statement. Functional unity is a genuine possibility – but it is also one that is unlikely to happen by accident!
    • In fact, even a move of the Spirit can FAIL to establish it – because it is the perspectives of our hearts that enable a functional unity, not the power of the Spirit!
  • The greatest hindrance is pride – which feeds the independent spirit. (This is, of course, one of those things that needs discussing – to be named and identified so it can be overcome). We naturally do our own thing – even in the unity space. We support our own things. We only even see our own things sometimes. However, the Holy Spirit within us can reveal this to us, shaping our character, therefore making new things possible! We are only stuck where we are if we don’t have these conversations!

These conversations are, therefore, the PATHWAY to a different future.

Without these conversations, the partisan mindset will remain.


Conclusion: Belief first – then action!

Who is willing to believe again for a more united and engaged Church in this nation, serving this nation?

  • The obstacles might seem insurmountable. (They seem this way to me.)
  • Only through conversation can there be change! I suggest this is an actual truth. (If we want an action step to apply ourselves to, this is genuinely a needed step!)


Please join me in seeking to engage and initiate these kinds of needed conversations – related to the role and function, dynamics, boundaries, values and pitfalls of the united Church.

Let’s each do this in our own circles of influence.

Through this, let’s disciple a generation of pastors to – with belief together that a more functionally united Church is possible than we or our nation have ever seen!


For other articles by Dave on the same topic of – CHURCH UNITY

2024 – The LID of our unity is in what we can SEE

2024 – To further unity there is a needed context

2024 – SLT Leadership statement – Nest areas we intend to innovate within

2024 – Attitudes that sustain unity

2024 – How is the strength of unity to be measured?

2024 – Application from the Bible Society’s new data

2023 – A unity reflection: What if we were more strategic in our PRAYER

2023 – Roy Crowne – A voice for unity – Unity finding its voice in the CITY

2023 – Fresh vision for local Church unity

2023 – Invercargill’s Community Service Day – a unity story

2023 – Family relationships – an under-utilised gateway

2023 – The election is over – so WHAT NOW? (A specific strategic proposal)

2023 – For a united Church – there are leaders we cannot see

2023 – “Mistaken” – An offensive comical parable? Why?

2023 – “Mistaken” – A comical parable about unity

2023 – Four characteristics of leaders who take city-wide unity from talk to action

2023 – The quiet before the storm (Perspectives that shape how we lead)

2023 – STORY: How Gisborne churches united to serve their flood-affected region

2023 – STORY: NZ churches can shine when it counts (Napier flood report)

2023 – To think differently in times of crisis – like during the floods (How to ‘let our light shine’)

2022 – One Church? FIVE factors that enable pastors’ groups to turn theory into practice

2022 – A SWOT Analysis of the NZ Church in relation to its outreach

2022 – Four national goals that can be easy ‘wins’ together

2022 – A vocabulary we can agree on (This one is a particularly important FOUNDATION if coherent national discussions on unity are to one day take place)

2022 – Principles for managing necessary agenda in pastors’ groups

2022 – Introducing ‘HeLP Project’ (for pastors’ groups) – the what and the why

2022 – Key pulpit themes in view of the global reset (Finding direction in changing times)

2020 – It’s time to take responsibility to educate our own children and youth again (On united direction and strategy – for city change)

2020 – Kingdom minded  – It’s more radical than many think

2020 – STORY – The Auckland delivery

2020 – STORY – Miracle delivery where pastors declined (raises an intriguing question about boundaries)

2020 – A need for new media platforms – not more voices (How do we address the increasingly left-leaning and also anti-faith bias of public media?)

2020 – A vision for national Church unity (What might REALISTICALLY be within our reach to achiEve – if we merely thought differently?)

2019 – ‘In One Spirit’ – The purpose of the book (Written at the time of the book launch and press release)

2019 ‘In One Spirit’ – full book FREE online

2019 – United we stand (A blog just prior to the release of the above book, ‘In One Spirit’)

2017 – Pastors’ groups – a home visitation idea (best suiting smaller towns)

2017 – The call to influence culture (It’s about the way we think)


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”, “The Elephant in the Room”, “In One Spirit” and “The Art of Storytelling – and of becoming an intriguing person”. Married to Heather, they have four boys and reside in Tauranga, New Zealand.

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