26 Apr, 2022 Four national goals that can be easy wins – together
Sometimes our greatest opportunities – are the simplest!
This article comes from the 2022 ‘Outreach Today’ publication – proposing what I suggest are some of the most important goals the NZ Church could have – that are also easier than imagined.
However, while some our our best achievements are sometimes also the easiest – we can only achieve what we see – and when it comes to these ‘easy wins’, that is the challenge!
DOWNLOAD THIS ARTICLE AS A PDF IN PRINT FORMAT HERE …OR READ BELOW
Ideas we could embrace in common to make a difference
This article lists 4 goal areas, with 14 applications which each church could do their own way — yet that could make a broad impact in our nation if these were to become the habits of 1500 churches.
GOAL #1. TO HAVE OUR CORE MESSAGES STILL HEARD
i. Protect key seasons: What if we united in simple efforts to keep Christ visible in the public square in Easter and Christmas? The freedoms of speech and religion are a matter of ‘use it or lose it’. Creativity is a bridge. We can protect platforms for our hope and faith-filled messages together.
Examples: Combined events in cities and towns, Hope Project Christmas and Easter, Christmas floats, Nativity displays at Christmas, Christmas dramas in schools, etc.
ii. Deliberately sharing Christian messages: What if we were all intentional to initiate or support efforts purposed to keep Christian messages visible in the public square, whether through web-media, TV, literature or events. Wisdom is needed — but a lot can be said by someone who has tact! The hearing of these messages protects our freedom to speak them!
Examples: Wisely worded messages at all possible Christian-run events and programmes, noting Light Parties and children’s carnivals, plus messages on Christian TV, Christian Radio, Public TV programmes for public audiences like Life TV, combined billboard / web efforts, etc. Where could we say something sensitively and wisely — yet clearly?
GOAL #2. TO SEE CHURCH MEMBERS EQUIPPED TO ENGAGE IN DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS CONFIDENTLY
There are various topics of conversation that are increasingly difficult to engage with in our nation. Basic Christian witness can be difficult. A useful area for learning is ‘the conversational skills of Jesus’. What if we united to see the following:
i. Conversational outreach training in every pulpit, every year.
ii. Conversational outreach training in every small group, every year.
iii. Conversational outreach training in every youth ministry, every year.
Resources: Books: God Space, Doug Pollock; Tactics, Gregory Koukl; Conversational Evangelism, David and Norman Geisler. Videos and small groups: AllTogether.co.nz/equipping-videos-members For youth: Godtalk.nz Sermons with studies: AllTogether.co.nz/sermons-studies
GOAL #3. TO SEE OUR MEMBERS ENGAGING WITH INCREASED CULTURAL WISDOM, KNOWLEDGE AND STORY
The freedom of information precedes the freedom of conscience. Put differently, if people don’t have access to both sides of a matter, they cannot discern what is true. When public media becomes increasingly one-sided, we have a ‘freedom of information’ problem. Giving people access to information is important — but, as another point, so is a knowledge of history! Where freedoms are lost, increasing care is needed with words. Making quotable statements can become unwise. How could a person express a point without making a statement? The answer is, by telling a story! Jesus said to be ‘as wise as serpents, yet as harmless as doves’ (Matthew 10:16). We are blessed in Aotearoa-New Zealand with a history that is full of amazing stories. Story-telling from history is an approach that can work on all public platforms!
i. Access to a balance of news: Let’s encourage our members to be aware of news feeds that can give a balance of information on some topics, like Family First, New Zealand Christian Network, or similar.
ii. Apologetics conferences: Let’s support apologetics conferences run in various parts of our nation — like by Thinking Matters. These create a platform from which thinking individuals can be heard, which lifts us all.
iii. Pulpits: What if we all also preached on a current issue from our pulpits maybe three times per year — though wisely, while connecting members to sources of information they can investigate? (Better to teach a man to fish than to only give him a fish).
iv. New media platforms: Our nation has many people attempting to speak up for conservative perspectives and values. What we lack is platforms from which they can be heard. Let’s be ready to support new innovations in this area.
v. Bicultural history: Let’s all read, research, write and tell history stories related to the influence of Christian faith in our bicultural history. It is profound and influences perspectives of our faith.
vi. Values history: Let’s likewise learn and talk about where our amazing cultural values came from — as these stories are powerful, and Christianity is central to the story!
History resources showing the Christian connection: Books: Who Is This Man? John Ortberg; What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? D James Kennedy; The Rise of Christianity, Rodney Stark; How Christianity Changed the World, Alvin Schmidt. Bible and Treaty, Keith Newman; Te Rongopai 1814 ‘Takoto Te Pai!’, many contributors; The Years Before Waitangi, Patricia Bawden Truly concise stories found in booklets: Hope Project booklets currently tell 50 key NZ history stories — HopeProject.co.nz/ebooks (Free copies from firstname.lastname@example.org) Children’s stories: Chronicles of Paki (illustrated history stories), Alison Condon and Gina Taggart (BigBook.nz). DVDs: Te Rongopai, Stuart Lange (NZ Christian Network); Jesus the Gamechanger (series), Karl Faase. Radio pieces: 100 x 1min NZ history stories — HopeProject.co.nz/a-minute-in-history Small group discussion guides to help build historical knowledge: For use with the above booklets — on the left at AllTogether.co.nz/sermons-studies Various audio messages (incl. print material, from Shining Lights Trust): AllTogether.co.nz/nzhistory
GOAL #4. TO INCREASE A SPIRIT OF PRAYER AMONGST US ALL
i. Let’s strengthen prayer in our local churches — whether individual prayer, small group prayer, or local church prayer.
ii. Let’s strengthen prayer in unity with others — whether pastors’ group prayer, combined church prayer, every-street prayer or national online prayer.
iii. Let’s encourage and catalyse what does not yet exist as strongly in our praying: School group prayer and work place prayer.
A potential to consider
Because these ideas can be applied by each church its own way, this doesn’t offend our individuality.
Because these ideas can be applied through what we already do, by becoming more intentional, this doesn’t need to make us any more busy!
Churches could therefore potentially embrace ALL of these ideas — their own way!
Additionally, if 1000 churches did this (which is plausible), we could generate a broad effect together.
We estimate that anywhere from 200 to over 1000 churches might be applying each of these ideas already — which is very encouraging.
ARE THE OVERARCHING GOALS SENSIBLE?
ARE THE IDEAS FOR ACHIEVING THOSE GOALS SIMPLE AND REALISTIC?
HOW ABOUT IT?
Without communication lines, collaboration amongst many is not possible.
To subscribe for the Shining Lights Trust’s monthly pastors’ updates, or prayer updates, go to AllTogether.co.nz/updates
For other articles by Dave on the same topic of Church unity
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)
2020 – It’s time to take responsibility to educate our own children and youth again (On united direction and strategy – for city change)
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 – United we stand (A blog just prior to the release of the above book, ‘In One Spirit’)
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.