27 May, 2024 The LID of our unity is in what we can SEE

The LID of our unity is in what we can SEE

It is often said that things rise and fall upon vision.

Despite the fact that there are (correctly) many other things that affect the success of a vision, the above statement still carries a significant truth.

A leader can only take a group to a place they can see!


The SCOPE of vision is a LID (no matter how great the leader)

In the unity space, one of the strategic challenges I perceive to be us to be facing is limited VISION or SIGHT of where we could go.

Coffee unity‘ takes time. It isn’t to be mocked. Pastors change often in some churches. Some of those arriving will have personalities and peculiarities too. Someone needs to take initiative, to know the pastors of a place, to invite them, stay connected with them and encourage them – including that they might participate in some way with the Church of which their congregation is a subset.

Prayer unity‘ takes leadership. Pastors won’t shift from coffee unity to prayer unity by accident. Someone will need to lead (facilitate) the group to a place of shared heart – sufficient to begin to enjoy praying together. A combined prayer gathering might result also – or exist instead prayerful unity among the pastors (to state it how it can be).

However, functional unity is another thing entirely. We need to get past the comfort of ‘in house’ meetings to pray to step out and do something. We need to unite in heart and mind sufficient to agree upon a common vision – then doing something sensible together that we could not do apart.

With that being plausible for a group – I’m thinking about our next level of functional unity.

  • If we cannot see what might come next, we won’t miss it.
  • If we cannot see what might come next, we won’t lament its absence
  • If we cannot see what might come next, we won’t know what the current hindrances and ‘gaps’ to address are too – because we are ‘without sight’! So we won’t know how to lead a change in the group!

But what if there really were a whole LOT more than we’re seeing or considering  yet as united churches?

I’m not talking about more busyness. I’m definitely not talking about more programmes. I’m talking about thinking differently – so we consider and function a bit differently to how we do now.

What if our whole paradigm were a bit limited – like the difference between a  programme driven church and a purpose driven one?


To illustrate

Early in ministry I saw a ministry work involving giving devotions, talks, studies, sermons and programmes – in the context of knowing and loving people. The possibilities excited me.

  • I then saw team building and Christian education topics that could expand the discipleship content.
  • In the mix I couldn’t avoid having to grow in managerial abilities to juggle a growing scope of things (finances, ministries, organisations, programmes, events).
  • I was busy. But all the above was still in the ‘programme driven’ category – even though it included leadership development and deployment.  

Then, a few years later, my SIGHT changed – and with it my measure and goal changed. I began to measure things by longer-term RESULTS. I then saw what I’d call the paradigm of ‘INTENTIONAL DISCIPLE-MAKING’ – and realised the above approach programme didn’t cut it. By 15 years into ministry I was pursuing a very different approach to when I started. It was a highly intentional approach, desiring MEASURABLE growth in every member each year – with clear goals and also simple and sensible mechanisms in place that could quite broadly catalyse those results – with beautiful testimonies resulting, and in a healthy (not driven) culture. It was principally about CULTURE – including healthy habits and practices.

To illustrate regarding outreach, where my starting point had been (a) speaking in various places myself to communicate about Christ while (b) running events people were invited to – as a pastor I eventually pursued a CULTURE of outreach in the members – pursuing fruit that required nothing of my own efforts, and no official programmes (this was the dream – even while still including programmes). This was successful – with results for a fraction of the work – except that the CULTURE took about 5 years to establish.

Even without events small groups naturally had their own socialising – and would grow. So we were entirely capable of growth without any special programmes.

To make a point, once established, if you can see what Im talking about, how could it not generate results?!

  • It will!
  • But you have to be able to SEE what I’m talking about to see that!

We can only lead what we can see!

I am suggesting we are in a similar space regarding unity across NZ.

There are things we are not SEEING.



Toward a summary

You might know the leadership statement, “For addition, train members. For multiplication, train leaders.” A different approach can yield a different result – and this without requiring more work.

This same principle applies to the unity space. We can get better results – with no more work – if we can THINK (and therefore also perceive) differently.


As a vision statement

National change can and is being catalysed in various ways amongst us as the NZ Church nationally.

(Do you see that?)

Unity in the NZ Church could yet go to places it has never been – including to places we haven’ t read about. (Where do you think it is going?)

However, the pace of current change is very slow if not stunted.

(Noting where unity could go, what is it that is hindering our ability to see and embrace what might logically be our next steps? We cannot answer this question if we cannot SEE how things could be different!)


Without a common vision for something bigger we naturally default to a place of ‘each to their own’ – which is at a better level than 10 years ago in many cases, so that is good.

But what if there is more?


A pathway

I believe alternative practices already sit before us – but they cannot be seen.

If the path is the augmenting of the culture and thinking that sits amongst us. As this changes, the way we see, and what we see, changes.

I therefore conclude that most pastors’ groups are about 20 (or 50?) intentional conversations away from being positioned to SEE how things could be different.

The pathway is intentional discussion

The question is, conversation and discussion about what?



A contribution:

For my part, this is maybe why I’ve written almost an article per months on unity and pastors’ groups this past 18 months.

  • These articles dig into  ‘thinking’ that sits within us – which shapes our values, choices and possibilities. I am consistently motivated to write only because I see a ‘gap’.
  • I wonder if the things within these articles are something of a pathway – drawing out matters within our hearts and perspectives that affect how we think and what we see.
  • Maybe, beyond these kinds of discussions, we might SEE a few things differently – noting many of us will never have engaged a conversation with a group on these ‘unity topics’ (They are all specifically about how unity works).


Let’s keep the conversation going – and if any have reflections on unity in NZ, its DNA, dynamics and future etc., I’m truly interested to hear!

All Together, by God’s grace, we can see even greater things yet!


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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