—  To lift JESUS up in the city  —

The Shining Lights Trust exists to identify GAPS between the outreaching efforts of the New Zealand Church, so as to help see them plugged.  

This page relates to facilitating / resourcing work we do in connection with city and town pastors’ groups.

The unity of churches in each city and town is vital

A key purpose: There are things we can do together that we cannot do apart.

The key thought that catalyses a change

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)

The life-cycle of a city or town pastors’ group

  1. Coffee unity building relationship and trust
  2. Prayer unity — when prayer is regular, and is for the city more-so than for each other and your respective churches
  3. Functional unity — when prayer and trust are releasing leadership and vision, to do things in the city together – that you could to do alone.

What pastors’ group facilitators who have hosted us are saying…

"Dave was very good at inspiring and equipping us for the task of conversational evangelism…[and]...also very good at reminding us of our Christian heritage and its contribution to our nation"
Church Minister
"It was also helpful to be advised of people and/or ministries across the country that are worthwhile and making a positive difference for the Gospel"
"I was aware of how useful input from Dave, as an outsider and visitor, could be. He has the ability to facilitate discussion with pastors regarding ‘What can we be doing better together locally?’ without being entangled in any internal politics. This can be hugely useful for catalysing change!"
Church Pastor
"I was encouraged and helped by the sharing of things that are currently happening around New Zealand, including different resources on offer and practical ways churches can support each other"
Church Minister
“All felt that the range of strategic ideas, resources and connections it passed to us was valuable. We had the majority of our pastors…[present and]...will discuss this further at our next meeting"
Church Minister
"For our pastors’ group this connection was…hugely valuable. Christians/churches around the country will undoubtedly have a greater impact when we work together"
Church Pastor

A challenging perspective

Who’s Kingdom are you building?

(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.

Some of the easiest and most effective unity efforts we’ll ever find

What if in 20 years…?

  1. Our core messages were still being heard — despite cultural hostilities
  2. Our members were better equipped to engage difficult conversations confidently
  3. Our members were engaging both public conversations and witness with increased cultural wisdom, knowledge and story
  4. The Church as a whole was stronger in prayer?

We actually could achieve this together! 

>> See the ‘four goals’ in the right hand column.

Recently added…

> Recent articles on unity by Dave Mann

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


> Interview / webinar about unity and innovation, with Roy Crowne of HOPE Together, UK

Click HERE to view the recent webinars along with the Q&A section.


> A vocabulary for ‘unity’ that NZ pastors’ groups can agree upon

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


> How on earth are we to manage all that might be involved — were we to engage with intelligence within our city together?

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)  


Recent Feedback received re quarterly pastors’ group convenors’ updates:

“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!” 

FRESH vision (2024) for local Church unity

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).

Interview with Roy Crowne – ABOUT NZ

This interview gave us opportunity to hear Roy’s thoughts – as an recognised expert in this field –  after observation of NZ pastors’ groups in cities and towns across 4 provinces.

VIDEO here

READ here

Four wider goals we could unite together in nationally

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

Outreach Today 2022
Unity amongst youth leaders in each city and town is vital

See the four goals at the top of Godtalk.nz, and an outline on the leadership of city/town youth leaders networks here.

A recent message 

‘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’.

In One Spirit — by Dave Mann

Click the image to view the recently released last two chapters of the book.

Engage Conferences and Pastors Gatherings held nationally by Dave Mann in 2021

Click HERE to see an overview of the Engage Conferences and some key messages.

Our work in this area involves… 



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.


Leadership Facilitation

(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!


In One Spirit, by Dave Mann

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.

  • The first half considers how culture changes and can be changed. It then identifies 5 cultural trends working against the wider hopes of the Christian community — and 3 working in its favour, to consider their potential interplay.
  • The second half is then specifically on the unity of churches in cities and towns, with a focus on the role, function and potential of city/town pastors’ groups.

Download pdf here, or purchase hardcopy for $20 plus $5 P&P here.

Other things NZ pastors are saying…

"The guidelines on how churches could work together were practical and really useful: Do apart what you can do apart; 'We don’t have to’; What can we be doing better together? And also all the resources available for churches to equip the saints for the work of the ministry"
Local Church Pastor
"He brought great wisdom and sharing of resources from across the country, people and/or ministries that are worthwhile and making a positive difference for the Gospel"
Lead Pastor
"I feel that as a minister's group we are already on a journey of trying to help each other and connect more with a combined force. This visit and input was a helpful encouragement, and it was a shame so few of us turned up"
Community Ministries Director
"I was encouraged by Dave’s genuine interest in people...and his obvious passion for the health and advancement of the wider Kingdom of God"
Local Church Pastor
"While our churches already have a good working relationship there is always room for improvement, this input encouraged us, and my guess is that there may be more resource-sharing in the future as we work even more closely together"
Church Minister
"Thank you. Dave is a key resource to the church in NZ"
Lead Pastor
"The Shining Lights Trust team seem to have their finger on the pulse of the needs of the Christian Church across Aotearoa"
Church Minister

Our local connection in your area…3 roles


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).