14 Nov, 2023 Fresh vision for local church unity

Fresh vision for local church unity

The idea of PARTNERSHIP – enabling more

Taken from an early meeting held for some of the  ‘delivery coordinators’ across NZ’s cities and towns prior to the 2024 national ‘Hope Project’ gospel effort – below are TWO explanations of VISION for pastors’ groups.

The question that sits here is whether we are ready to consider the idea of bringing INTENTIONALITY to our PARTNERSHIPS as pastors in each location, to enable things we are unlikely to achieve for our cities otherwise.

1. Historical – what we could ALREADY be achieving through partnership

This short 3.30min video is worth watching together.

The point to comprehend is the significance of the FOUR outcomes – easily achieved through PARTNERSHIP.

Question: Do you think you might be achieving these four goals – or even have achieved them at any point, if not for the catalytic role of Hope Project?

This models the principle.

2. Three FRESH goals

If we can accept the above principle, what about these three goals – as fresh vision for what churches could yet achieve in and for their cities and towns?

  • The video is only 12 minutes long!

These goals are each DISTINCT from the others. Each is about a different outcome. Each has a different approach.

You will quickly note in this that the total ‘workload’ involved is very low.

  • This begs a few questions.
  • As a working principle, it’s likely only through PARTNERSHIP that the CAPACITY to serve our cities in this way will be found.

Summary notes

  1. Engage in a way that connects you through ONE INITIATIVE TOGETHER
  1. Work out how you could tell your own story
    • Note the FOUR possibilities and LONGEVITY enabled via partnership, as compared to what might result by going it alone – AllTogether.co.nz/helpproject
  1. Position your PEOPLE to engage in their community (beyond your oversight)
    • This simple idea is simple, while carrying a profound potential. For me it begs the question, ‘Why aren’t we doing this?’
      • I suggest that the ‘denominational mindset’ we have inherited down through from the Protestant Reformation is more significant in our thinking that we realise it is.
    • What if we were to see God’s Church – which we serve – differently?
      • Are we a united body with common objectives?
      • …Or are we individual congregations – with some aligned goals – yet who might concurrently even be competing with each other?
      • These represent two different ways of thinking. One only empowers thinking at the scale of a local congregation – in contrast to what might be needed in a city or our nation. This naturally results in differing thinking, goals and priorities – depending what we serve.

As a comment regarding this third area of vision: If it is action by our members in the many places in our communities they connect within that we want, then a focused and consistent effort to encourage this outward (uniting / praying / engaging) action step, while applauding and ‘rewarding’ those who do… might be the best thing we ever did in mission! As a principle, ‘A talented pastor is no match for 100 mobilised members’.  The potential within God’s people for the city is significant. How could it be released?

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16

Final note: The EFFORT required here is not significant 

  • Re vision #1 – Having identified a need – a team would be needed to prepare each area of community service – but this is achievable. The effort is entirely ‘locally owned and operated’ – and a one-off each year, so there is no ongoing work.
  • Re vision #2 – The beauty of this is that it is NOT ‘locally operated’ – which is what makes it truly easy – even while being ‘locally owned’! This illustrates the way in which national partnerships can enable new possibilities at the local level – in many places concurrently. This helps things to happen that would rarely if ever happen otherwise.
  • Re vision #3 – The prayer idea is surprisingly simple – even while being , as yet, largely untested. It requires ‘new thinking’ – but if intentionally embraced, could transform the engagement of many church members in city.

In summary

With an attitude that values PARTNERSHIP, the above are all achievable for pastors’ groups – in service to their cities or towns.

However, WITHOUT attitudes that value both INTENTIONALITY and PARTNERSHIP, it seems unlikely to me than any pastors’ group anywhere in our nation would achieve these above three outcomes.

I believe this speaks powerfully to the need for a change in the way we think about unity.

The gaps, where new initiative is needed, are not hard to see – and the potential encouraging.


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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