09 Jun, 2023 10 benefits of Hope Project for the NZ Church
10 benefits of Hope Project for the NZ Church
We feel a ‘debt’ of gratitude to all the amazing people and churches who enable this broad-reaching effort. Thank you!
However, to sustain this effort attitudes need to remain positive.
When we become too familiar with a thing, it’s easy to take it for granted. We sometimes see this happening with Hope Project.
To keep the effort alive is therefore principally about vision!
Why do we do this?
Also, how valuable is this effort?
Under this article a dozen stories from last year are summarised into 50 words each. But first…
…Here are TEN REASONS to VALUE the HOPE PROJECT in your city and for your community
- We keep the ‘Christ’ in Christmas and Easter in the public view
It is as in the saying, ‘use it or lose it’. While Christian influence is at the foundation of many of our national values, most of the public are unaware of this. There is a clear trend in which Christian references are overlooked – and negative stories told more than positive. Most are unaware of our strongly Christian our history is in relation to cultural values.
Meanwhile 40% of our nation still consider themselves Christians. Most wouldn’t even be aware of this. About 16% attend church regularly – as defined by once a month or more. Few of the public would know this.
Hope Project places Christian messages on public media channels – for public audiences – and also successfully gets our stories literally into most Kiwi homes.
There is wisdom in being visible in these seasons together!
- We influence public perspectives by highlighting that our faith is still alive and well
If personal witness connects Christianity positively with about 10% of the non-church population, and church community ministries another 10% – what about the remaining 80%? Most of these would hear no clear messages about the Christian faith in an average year if not for initiatives like Hope Project.
Our social media engagements confirm that that the public will assume that silence to mean our faith is dying and an irrelevance. What the public – or doesn’t – hear influences their perspectives!
- We influence perspective through stories that show that our faith ‘isn’t all bad’
If the public only hear negative messages about the Christian Church, it’s only natural that they’ll assume our faith to be detrimental to society. With more negative than positive stories about the Christian faith in the public square, this attitude is increasingly common. We encounter this in our social media. People think religion (including our faith) does more harm than good. No one else is going to tell our story for us. Only by speaking up to tell the stories of history, as well as of positive Christian influence in people’s lives today, can this be changed! Hope Project is doing this – through multiple media channels, and all year around!
- A remarkable national prayer walk is catalysed
Are you unaware that every single residential street is covered in prayer 100 NZ cities and towns, as the result of a collaborative effort by the churches in each of those locations? That’s amazing!
5. Local churches to get the gospel itself to most homes
This fact that the Christian message and testimony actually gets into homes is more than sufficient reason for most to value Hope Project. This effort sits near the core of our God-given mission. Wider reaching united efforts are needed part of the picture – noting a majority of non-church-goers (80% illustrated above) connect with us and our message by no other means in an average year.
- Local churches keep the Christian message connected with their efforts to give help
Put differently, we keep the ’Christ’ in what it is to be ‘Christian’. This strategic benefit is often missed.
As a trend, church community ministries often become more silent about the Christian faith with time. This common pattern is sometimes called ‘mission drift’. As a result, many church efforts could sit just as easily under a secular Government department.
The fact that the booklets go to homes redeems this. Wherever the public become aware that the same people who provide various community services also distribute these booklets, they go, “Ah – so this is what those people believe and represent!”
This redeems something of the witness of our many good works.
This is about keeping the ‘Christ’ in what it is to be ‘Christian’! 🙂
- The delivery catalyses new experiences in outreach
In all discipleship, hands-on experiences are vital. Consider Jesus sending out the 12 and then the 72. Every year, wise people and churches involve those who are newer to faith. This catalyses new experiences, testimony and learning.
Regarding youth, our 2020 survey showed that just over half of the churches who replied had involved their youth in the delivery – as a new discipleship experience.
- A unique national catalyst for annual outreach equipping
Whether this is happening through the pulpit, the church small group or the youth group – every year hundreds of churches are reminded to give some form of conversational outreach to their members.
There is probably no equivalent catalyst for this – while the various pulpit, small group and youth resources created for this make application easy.
- A catalyst for testimonies
Momentum is a leaders best friend. Many churches struggle to find fresh stories from people who are active in outreach. Wherever people go out to deliver booklets., conversations happen, and testimonies result. This breathe new life into the outreaching efforts of local churches!
- Hope Project helps Church unity to stay functional
The public are not at all surprised to hear our churches connect and pray together – but they are surprised when they see evidences of us collaborating in larger efforts that deliver a result! Hope Project is a continuing voice reminding churches that unity not only about relationship and prayer, but also action – and that achieving larger things can be simple! There are things we can do together that we cannot do apart – and this need not be difficult. (For Hope Project, involvement from just 20% of churches, with about 10 volunteers each, can cover a city of any size!)
The potential capacity of our churches – if united in simple and sensible goals fitting the criteria of a united endeavour – is therefore also seen. Concurrently, a platform from which churches could pursue other potential united efforts is strengthened.
And the reach of what our churches do and enable together here isn’t small!
This past Easter…
- 1 million were engaged with the Easter social media alone, plus 0.5m at Christmas.
- Over 2 million Kiwis saw the Easter TV ads an average of 3.6 times
- Booklet went to about 1.36 million homes
- Over 80% of all booklets were delivered by about 4000 volunteers.
- The prayer walk covered 100 cities and towns
- 80,000 additional booklets utilised in local churches outreach
- The AllTogether.co.nz website had 20,000 users
- The Godtalk.nz updates for youth leaders go to 450 monthly
Looking forwards, if participation continues to be broad then the finances and nation-wide delivery can quite easily continue – along with ‘side benefits’ like the equipping of tens of thousands of church members by their own leaders!
>> The key is a continued valuing of this united effort.
Please continue to pray,
and to participate in the delivery
– to lift Jesus up across our cities and nation together.
* Endnote: Re the mentioned ‘8/10 of the non-church public having no one trying to connect a Christian message with them in an average year’ – except for united efforts undertaken for this purpose… …an Australia study revealed that 6/10 non-Christians to have no church going friends. If 1/4 of all Christians were active in witness (which would be very generous), 10% of the non-Christian population might hear a Christian message through them. Were 10% connected to a church community service – and all of these to be actively sharing Christian messages of hope – that gives 20% in total of the whole hearing Christian messages – leaving 80% with nothing, except through efforts that purposefully engage via THEIR media channels and platforms, or widely and specifically within THEIR community, to connect.
Some stories from this past year
Remembering WHY we do this is important.
- Vision leaks
- The reasons for this have not changed.
- The merits remain the same – and in some ways are better.
To reinvigorate the vision – some stories
- A young mother contacted us, telling us how her parents never believed the faith but as she gets older she feels something is missing. For no apparent reason she’s been wanting to read a Bible – looking for how to get one – and then our booklet arrived. It was divine providence. “Could I have a Bible please?”
- Another person requesting a New Testament said “I’ve never owned a Bible and truly believe there is something (out there). I would love to learn and this will giveme the opportunity. Thank you!”
- Another seeing the offer of a New Testament contacted us saying the booklet had impacted them, while stating their readiness to now learn more about Jesus. (“Bible please?”)
- A lady doing care work in homes noted how booklets were on the dining room tables in home after home at the time of their delivery. This happened year after year (and was able to engage conversations around it).
- A gentleman wrote from prison. Having been given a booklet the testimonies had impacted him – he gave his life to Christ and simply wanted to tell us he believed this was the turning point of his life. “Thank you!”
- An elderly man asked his daughter who helped care for him, to please read a booklet that came in the post to him. Having finished he said, could you please read that prayer at the end out again – I want to pray that!
- Feeling depressed a man asked God for a sign. Was he there? Is there more to life? That very day the booklet was in his letterbox.
- Awaiting an appointment for an operation in her home a lady felt fear. She asked God – if you are there – could you please show me a sign. The booklet arrived, and she now follows Christ.
- Finding a messed up booklet on the ground – wet and part eaten by snails, a person read it. Remembering a friend with suicidal thoughts they contacted us for a clean copy – believing they’d been led to this booklet, to give it to their friend. (Even a discarded booklet impacted a life).
- The above isn’t to mention 2m+ seeing TV ads, and 1m+ engaging with one social media channel in the Easter period alone (over 2m NZers across a year on that channel).
There are many of these kinds of stories annually – and throughout the year.
As far as we can tell, none of the above people had a church connection.
You’ll find more summarised stories in our annual reports – AllTogether.co.nz/hopeproject
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.