The primary purpose of geographic (city/town) pastors’ groups is not relationship – as has usually been asserted, but mission.
Relationship is however a first purpose, or starting point, on that journey toward ‘functional unity’.
> God wants a FUNCTIONALLY (not merely relationally) united Church (Phi 1:27, John 17).
> The question: What could we do together that we could not do apart?
> How do we lift Jesus up in the city? (John 3:14, John 12:32)
(An excerpt from a blog post by Ps Keith Harrington, Invercargill)
The measure of what you consider success in ministry is a crucial question every pastor needs to answer. Typically, we have measured success in terms of the size of our congregation. This leads to potentially really bad practices in terms of what we do.
If we were to put a city and unity lens onto the question of success, it might seriously alter what we do. If success is the health of the church in the city, then I am no longer focused on just how many are coming to the church I lead. If success is to see the church of the city grow, then we will not be happy when the growth in my church is at the expense of the church down the road.
For too long we have not had a Biblical view of what success in ministry looks like. I believe we should ask ourselves this question: Is the church in the city more healthy than when I began my ministry in this place? If the answer is yes, I believe God is pleased with what we have done. Too many pastors are building their own kingdom, not God’s kingdom.
We actually could achieve this together!
>> See the ‘four goals’ in the right hand column.
The election is over. What next for the united Church – to engage with the shaping of our nation?
Marriage week – what and 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 (Logically, how should current perspectives 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 – The independent nature of unity movements
2023 – Is it time to think differently in crisis (How to ‘let our light shine’)
2022 – “One Church” – turning theory into practice
2022 – A SWOT Analysis of the NZ Church in relation to its outreach
Click HERE to view the recent webinars along with the Q&A section.
Read chapter 15, only recently released, which completes Dave’s book In One Spirit. Over 130 extra conversations in pastors’ groups across NZ were needed to be able to articulate this — to enable a more robust conversation amongst us all about the role and (potentially needed) function of these groups. PDF HERE. As a blog HERE.
Our united capacity is the question, which is somewhat limited by the way we’ve structured ourselves, which reinforces values misaligned to the idea of united effort. Chapter 14 of In One Spirit therefore articulates principles that can enable CAPACITY to be released — very simply – enabling remarkable results in proportion to the absence of any increase in work or administration. But be warned — it’s about a ‘paradigm’ of thinking and seeing ourselves within our city. This therefore requires some changes in how we think – to then change what we do – which could change our results! (Which makes the real question, can we see through what is suggested, to perceive exactly how much difference this might make?) PDF HERE. As a blog HERE. (Full book as a pdf free online – see further down on this page)
“This email is simply outstanding. The depth and breath of content, the relevance and it’s immediate usefulness hits every nail that needs hitting. Huge thanks to the entire Shining Lights team. Let’s get every prayer and intercessory geared believer going hard in their closets for every item!”
Hear a wero (challenge), inviting pastors’ groups to consider the idea of PARTNERSHIP – to help them deliver increased results in their cities and towns. Starting with a reflection on 4 things already achieved through partnership – a vision for 3 next steps is proposed. What might stand out to you here is that this is GENUINELY ACHIEVABLE – but only through PARTNERSHIP! So, how about it? View blog HERE including both videos (3mins + 12mins long each).
These could be achieved through 14 everyday activities we could each embrace as habits, enabling a national effect together. Read more on page 8 of the ‘Outreach Today’ Magazine below, or download PDF here
See the four goals at the top of Godtalk.nz, and an outline on the leadership of city/town youth leaders networks here.
‘Cultural change and what a united Church can do’ – with Dave
(From an Engage Conference, 2021)
Dave talks about how and why our potential TOGETHER is still greater than we imagine – but also why uniformity won’t get us there. Hear 4 long-range goals we could unite in – all of which are possible which we could achieve ‘in unison’.
Click the image to view the recently released last two chapters of the book.
Click HERE to see an overview of the Engage Conferences and some key messages.
We have travelled an enormous amount to meet pastors and pastors’ groups relationally across our nation — to facilitate and feed a intentional and directional conversations, while connecting people together, and raising awareness of ministry ideas that are making a difference elsewhere. (We’ve traveled nationally 8 times in 11 years, meeting between 50 and 70 city/town pastors’ groups each time). Into the future we intend to travel less – utilising other (easier) platforms to encourage and connect pastors’ groups with wider vision and resource.
Various resources and updates on a range of initiatives are passed on via quarterly updates for pastors’ group convenors. Updates include things upcoming on the national Church calendar, strategic questions for discussion in pastors’ groups, resources, articles, videos and more – with a view to the role and function of city/town pastors’ groups. We also occasionally host, or partner to host seminars / conferences / webinars with notable guest speakers — to give access to a continual feed of fresh vision and thought on our unity.
(1) We sometimes engage with pastor’s groups as an outside strategic voice, to encourage, mediate, speak into challenges, connect or give ideas. (2) We also engage around ‘hands on’ strategies purposed to help God’s Church have positive visibility via public media – locally and nationally. Hope Project and HeLP Project are the primary ‘brand names’ here – positively reflecting what our churches do to the public – with multiple spin offs in churches and media. (3) For a future time, our analysis of the Church and our culture has led us to a number of additional very simple national outreach-related strategies – but these await a different season to the present. We believe a greater ‘spiritual brokenness’ for our nation will be the key, creating a desire for effectiveness that brings a readiness for change – greater than our our attachment to our current structures and ways of thinking. What we are specifically waiting for is readiness to live and lead more intentionally in the unity-space. For now, few are desperate enough. Doing our own thing – whether as individual churches, or even as pastors groups together in our own city, is easier. Wider visions, that engage with culture itself, are about a different type of thinking!
Download full book as pdf here.
The Christian Church is no longer in the majority. How could we become an effectively activated minority?
This book is the product of conversations about unity with about 1000 New Zealand pastors.
We attempt to remain relationally connected to whoever is facilitating each group, to be able to enable communication lines across which ideas and resources related to pastors’ groups from across the nation can be shared. This includes raising awareness of about 20 ministries that we see significance in for unity and outreach in our nation (as measured by what pastors’ groups have told us), while also networking people and pastors’ groups where it benefits them.
These are exceptional individuals, usually being retired pastors and business owners, who make phone calls to local churches in connection with something concrete (like Hope Project or HeLP Project) to encourage their continued awareness of various resources (like for conversational outreach equipping), while aiding and encouraging their unity together in some practical way.
This is the contact person in each city or town for the Hope Project Easter booklet delivery. The role gives a person a servant role to play that concurrently gives them reason to connect personally with a wide range of churches in their city or town. This can be catalytic in the hands of a person who understands how unity works, and who values it for the churches together in their city. This person is usually a pastor in the city/town pastors’ group, though not always.
This is someone who has a zeal to ensure that the Church as a whole in their city or town is well represented, and ‘looks good’ (as it should) in the HeLP Project online platform, purposed to promote the things local churches are doing to help within each community, so people can find and engage with that help. This is about helping churches learn to represent as one within and to their communities, to make a greater impact – through better-leveraging what they already do!
In the current season (2017 to the present) facilitating intentional discussions in unity circles on boundaries necessary for unity to become functional within our cities and nation has been our primary strategic focus.
For a boundary regarding ourselves, we are servants in the body of Christ. No person or group has to partner with us, fund us, help us or do anything at all with us if they don’t want to. This ‘volunteerism’ is fundamental to the way Christian unity works.
(For more on the boundaries that can release our unity beyond the limitations of coffee and prayer …please do read ‘In One Spirit’, especially noting the closing chapter).