September 2015

Haerenga Update

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At the start of this year we announced that the Haerenga Mission Internship wouldn’t be running in 2015. At first we were quite disappointed by this, but we quickly realised that God had given us an amazing opportunity to review our internship and consider its future. After many discussions, interviews and surveys we realised that we had been trying to do two things with Haerenga: offer a gap year that focused on missional discipleship, and offer a purposeful mission internship.

As it turns out, it’s hard to offer both of these in one package. That’s why we’re launching two pathways, one focused on grass-roots missional discipleship and one focused on cross-cultural mission equipping. We’re still working out the details for the discipleship pathway, but this revised Haerenga Mission Internship will be for those a little further down the missional journey who want to seriously explore cross-cultural mission in a supportive environment. Much like an apprenticeship, interns are placed under the care of experienced missionaries and ‘learn the trade’ through a hands on, guided experience typically lasting 3 – 6 months. Interns will be equipped to live missionally within their callings, whether that’s pursuing a vocation back in NZ or a life of overseas mission.

If you know anyone who might be interested, please contact Jon (jon@nzcms.org.nz)

Becoming Disciple Makers: A Church’s Story (Issue 24)

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By Amy Page-Whiting. 

“Go and make disciples of all nations.” That’s the final command of Jesus to all those who follow him, and if asked, most church leaders would say it’s the core reason we exist.

After pastoring for over ten years I had a growing sense that ‘there must be more than this.’ It wasn’t that things were going badly – they just didn’t really look like what I saw in the Gospels. I started questioning the effectiveness of what I was doing, of the things I’d been trained to do: Sunday services, establishing small groups and mechanisms for pastoral care, prayer, counsel, training leaders, funerals, weddings (plus buildings, budgets, newsletters). I was busy… but I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that there must be more.

The clarifying moment came when I was asked two simple questions:  “How are you making disciples?” and “Is it working?”

It wasn’t that it was all bad – there were highlights and moments – but I couldn’t answer that I had a specific strategy for discipleship, and the fruit of our discipleship efforts was haphazard. The fact is I didn’t know how to do it! I could organise a church service but when faced with questions about my pathways for discipleship and for equipping my people to be disciples who disciple others – I didn’t know where to start!

These questions started our church, Cashmere New Life in Christchurch, on a journey (find more about Cashmere New Life at www.cnl.org.nz). We’re learning what it means to become people who live lives worth imitating and who know how to invite others to do the same. An invaluable companion has been the resources and people from 3DM (3dmovements.com). Two years into our journey of putting discipleship front-and-centre, we’re seeing that Jesus’ command to make disciples is not only possible but revolutionary.

 

For discussion

How are you making disciples?

Is it working?

 

Exploring today’s missional issues from a variety of angles, each edition of Intermission will equip you and your group to engage with God in your community and beyond. Why not take up the challenge and start using Intermission in your community? For more information or to order copies click here.

Messy Discipleship (Issue 24)

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The title on my Word document read “Alcohol in Gulu District: Health Impacts.” An army of Google tabs linked me to recent journal articles. A small ginger cat purred on my lap. A mug of steaming spicy tea sat patiently beside me. As someone who loves the calm methodical nature of research, I should have been at peace. Writing this report was a necessary part of our group’s fight for new laws regulating alcohol.

But I was deeply uneasy. It’d been weeks since I’d been out on my bike on the dusty paths, meeting with members of our community group in their homes. There’d been a few meetings in town with council officials, but I’d gone by myself. It was easier to go alone than to bring along someone inexperienced that might turn up late or say something unpredictable. In that moment, I felt a long way from those early meetings in our small church hall when we discussed Bible passages alongside community problems.

What was missing? What was I forgetting? Was I simply trying to get a new law passed in the most efficient way possible?

I prayed.

In that moment, I felt God remind me why I’m here and what our group is really for. Our group started from our little church, St Catherine’s, but now it’s a melting pot for anyone in the surrounding community who wants to strategise for social change. Our hope was that through the group, believers would discover new ways to be followers of Jesus by caring about the people Jesus cares about. We prayed that others would discover that their drive for social justice came from God and that they would come to know Jesus, the ultimate social radical and source of true transformation! But in my tea-fuelled fervour to do a good job on our Alcohol report for our District Council, I’d lost sight of a key ingredient: discipleship.

It’s been two months since my discipleship-revelation moment. Since then we’ve made some changes. Last Saturday we held the second of our new monthly group Bible study. We examined the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who defied the king’s new law by refusing to worship his statue so were tossed in a furnace. The story launched us into a discussion about following God’s way rather than bowing to human demands. Some people talked about defying their family’s insistence on trips to the witch doctors when they get sick. And we talked about what happens if powerful people start to resist our efforts to have alcohol regulated in our district.

I’ve also resolved to avoid doing meetings by myself. Last week there was a meeting with councillors from the district council. I took a motorbike into town with Betty for her first meeting with an official. The trip gave us a chance to talk about her faith, why she joined the group and the challenges she was facing. We prepped for the meeting… and she ended up doing most of the talking! The icing on the cake: the councillor promised his support.

As productive and safe as I might feel behind my computer with my cat and spice tea, I was being nudged towards the messier, less predictable world of discipleship. Discipleship may be messy, but it’s how God is building his Kingdom on earth.

Tessa and her husband Nick are NZCMS Mission Partners in Uganda. Tessa heads up a Community Organising group that tackles various social issues in the broader community. For more from the Laings visit ugandapanda.com

 

For discussion

In what ways are you tempted to choose efficiency over discipleship?

Are there ways you can invite others into your Kingdom efforts?

 

Exploring today’s missional issues from a variety of angles, each edition of Intermission will equip you and your group to engage with God in your community and beyond. Why not take up the challenge and start using Intermission in your community? For more information or to order copies click here.

Get Praying With Prayer Mate

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For those into technology, PrayerMate is an app for smart-phones and tablet-computers that helps you pray for the people and causes you care about, including NZCMS! Each day, the latest prayer prompts from NZCMS will be available at the touch of a button, and you can even set an alarm to remind you that it’s time to pray. It’s available on Android and iOS, so that you have prayer points from our Mission Partners right at your fingertips.

Download the app from iTunes here Download the Android app here

Once you have installed PrayerMate, the app should show you how it’s operated. It allows you to include a variety of topics in your prayer list, include prayers for NZCMS. You can add NZCMS to your prayer list by selecting the small + in the top corner.

Choose “Add new subject” then “World mission.” On the next page choose the bottom option, “Subscribe to feed.” Select the category “Mission & Bible Translation” then scroll down until you see NZCMS. The last step: select “Subscribe to this feed.” (If you are asked if you want push notifications, you can select “Yes” to be alerted to new prayer items from NZCMS.)

You can add in your own prayers, find other groups to be praying for, and remove some of the default items if you wish. To remove an item, select the arrow at the bottom of the item and then select “Archive subject.” To add an alarm to remind you to prayer each day, go to settings / advanced settings / Add reminder alarm.

For advice for getting started click here and watch the video at the end.

Intermission from July

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A number of churches and groups across the country have asked for extra copies of July’s Intermission publication, Strangers Among Us. If your church has spare copies (Issue 23), please consider returning them to NZCMS so we can pass them along.

The edition, which looked at how the church of New Zealand can be reaching out to migrants and refugees, continues to have great relevance in light of the growing refugee crisis.

The image to the right is the cover of the edition that we’re interested in.

Copies can be posted to: NZCMS PO Box 25098 Christchurch 8144

 

 

Words Becoming Flesh (Issue 24)

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By Bishop Justin Duckworth. 

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood” (John 1:14).

At the heart of the Christian message is the incarnation: that God took on flesh and blood and became one of us in Jesus. It’s easy to forget the implications of the incarnation for mission. Caught in a modernist framework we’re often obsessed with the need to use words to proclaim the Good News. Instead of sending his Son, God could have txt bombed us all or tweeted the Good News or even put up a Facebook page where we could ‘like’ God and his Kingdom. Instead the Word became flesh.

It’s only as the Word becomes a lived reality that people can engage it. We live in a word-saturated reality, an information overload where an avalanche of data is instantly available to us at the click of a button.

It’s therefore not surprising to me that many no longer bother listening to the Church. People are over listening. Full stop. We don’t need more words. We need lived realities.

Re-learning the Incarnation

In my own life the challenge is to learn once again what the incarnation is all about: living out the Good News. My call as a follower of Jesus is to incarnate the Good News in my own life and in the groups I’m part of.

Society may be over words, but a lived reality that offers hope is compelling. It’s hard to ignore a lived reality that dwells among us. It’s hard to ignore a lived reality of hope when it moves into the neighbourhood.

An Anabaptist friend once summed up what it means to be a people who live out the incarnation:

Alternative. We’re called to live a different way of life, one that offers hope to the deepest needs of our culture and society. Attractive. Those wanting an alternative way of life should find our lives appealing and contagious. Articulate. When people observe the hope at the centre of our lifestyles, we can explain what (and who!) it’s all about.

I’ve always found this useful, though the challenge is to actually live a life that’s alternative and attractive. For many of us there’s often very little discernible difference between our lives and the lives of our neighbours. The only visible difference is we go to a church service on a Sunday morning as opposed to a café for brunch.

This gap is why we, as followers of Jesus, need to seriously reengage with discipleship. Discipleship is the lived reality of following Jesus in the contexts we find ourselves in. Discipleship is not the accumulation of correct propositional truths but a life transformed by knowing God and his Kingdom agenda for our world.

But what is it?

“Discipleship” has become one of those fuzzy Christian words that have come to mean everything and therefore nothing. Being frustrated with this early on as Bishop, I gathered a diverse group of people in the diocese to discuss what discipleship is.

I asked them to first define what they would look for in a mature follower of Jesus. I then asked them to describe what they’ve observed about people who became this mature. In other words, we asked what it took for people to become mature disciples. Drawing on the wealth of experience in the room we came up with a few key DNA strands that we thought helped people mature:

Intentional. People had to proactively choose to allow their lives to be formed. Long term. People seemed to need to be involved for years to mature. Community. Maturity happens in small group of between 3-12 people. Missional. These groups are outwardly focussed, existing for the sake of others. Leadership & mentoring. Somebody helps to facilitate the journey. Liminal. This is the uncomfortable transition from one way of being and seeing the world to another, like the moment a trapeze artist has let go of the bar and is hanging in thin air, awaiting the next bar to swing their way. It is scary and outside people’s comfort zones. Worship & prayer. The group regularly worships and prays together. Whole of Life. These groups share life outside of formal gatherings – it’s the informal that forms. Holy Spirit led. These groups are open and expect God to direct and be involved.

Interestingly enough there wasn’t much conflict in the group discussion. People basically came up with the same things, despite the group being theologically diverse and a mixture of ordained and lay. Then we realised we had just described Jesus and his disciples. Maybe Jesus was on to something!

I realise in my own life I can often get so obsessed with God’s Kingdom that I miss how he actually went about building this Kingdom. The vehicle, the method, the engine room of the Kingdom is journeying long-term with a group of misfits on Kingdom adventures.

Can I encourage us to strive to daily live out the reality we profess, and in doing so continue to see the Word become flesh and blood and move into our neighbourhoods.

 

For discussion

Why do you think there tends to be little discernible difference between the lives of Christians and our neighbours?

What is one thing you and your group can do to make your faith more of a lived reality?

 

Exploring today’s missional issues from a variety of angles, each edition of Intermission will equip you and your group to engage with God in your community and beyond. Why not take up the challenge and start using Intermission in your community? For more information or to order copies click here.

Myths about Language Learning

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Katie is currently in Spain, learning the language and culture to get ready to be part of a church-planting team. Here’s some reflections she’s put together about the process of learning a new language.

My myths about Language learning that got squashed quickly.

1. You learn by listening and absorbing. It’s true that you learn a lot by listening but also there has to be some hours at the desk too. Spanish seems to have a huge number of tenses and lots of irregular verbs to try and get your head around and remember.

2. Translating what I want to say directly from English to Spanish always works. My mind is a translating factory right now. The sentence goes in in English and attempts to come out my mouth in Spanish. One day I wanted to pay for a Coke in a Café and so I told the Waitress “I had had a Coke”. The literal translation of this into Spanish sounded like I was announcing to the Waitress that I had just given birth to a glass of Coke. She looked at me in an amused way.

3. Language learning is a 9-5 job. Not true most of my life now involves reading, speaking or listening to Spanish.

4. I’ll be fluent in a year. It’s amazing that your brain adapts and changes and I know I understand and can say so much more now than the few words I had when I first arrived. I still have a way to go but I am so often thankful I can focus just on this work of Language and Culture learning in order to better equipped for being here for the long term.

 

For a list of seven common language-learning myths (and how to fix them) click here.

Growth by Discipleship (Issue 24)

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By Rich Robinson & Simon Ford (from 3DM ministries Europe). 

If you visit Berlin today you’ll find one place where the wall still stands. Written on it is this quote: “Many small people doing many small things in many small places can change the face of the world.” Long before the wall came down, a reformation was rumbling around in the hearts of the people, forcing them to do small things in many small places, over and over again.

There is a similar restlessness in the people of God today. They sense there’s a drift and they long to be connected to a faith that understands itself as part of something movemental. Something of the Kingdom.

So what does this Kingdom movement look like? Jesus made it simple: “Go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19).

This is the calling Jesus has given us: to be disciples who follow him and make disciples of others, helping them to follow him. In this way, one-by-one we can transform the world around us. That’s what a Kingdom movement looks like. It’s a discipleship movement.

The ministry we’re part of, 3DM, has spent the past 20 years making disciples across Europe. We’re now equipping churches and organisations around the world (including in New Zealand) to make disciples, empower leaders and catalyse these kinds of movements. Over the years we’ve done this, we’ve made a key observation: Making disciples always grows the church. Always. However, just growing the church doesn’t always produce disciples.

When churches realise that attendance is dropping, the typical response is to develop programmes and hold evangelistic events in hopes of curbing the trend. Our default mode seems to be attempting to (re)grow the church through events. However, is it possible that in all of this we’ve actually neglected the call of Jesus to make disciples?

Bigger Churches or a Discipleship Movement?

What we’ve seen in key centres in Europe, where we’ve focused on making disciples rather than just growing churches, is a culture emerge that’s creating an unstoppable, multiplying movement. It’s no longer about a church building or gathering. Rather, discipleship leads to a shift in the way that people think and live on a day-to-day community level, which leads to the discipling of others, which leads to multiplication.

Is our focus as leaders on having a bigger church? Or is it to be and make disciples who look to Jesus and, as a result, see the places where they spend their day-to-day lives transformed? In Europe we’ve seen lives transformed as a culture of discipleship has been established. In Sheffield, England for example, where 3DM originated, church members have gathered in mid-sized communities in the different neighbourhoods and networks that they live in. The result? Many people across Sheffield are encountering God’s love for the first time – drug addicts, Chinese students, single parents, office workers – all seeing their lives and situations transformed by Jesus through this pattern of community based missional discipleship.

In order to see this kind of shift take place, we need to start with ourselves. Are we spending most of our time focussed on the machinery and mechanics of church growth, and perhaps missing the real people and processes involved in real discipleship? Are we following the person and pattern of Jesus in our everyday lives? Are we helping others to do this too? We need to recapture the way of Jesus and once again become familiar with how he lived and led, so that we can empower those around us to do the same.

Temple and Household: both-and not either-or

A huge part of this shift in culture is about recapturing community life together. If you read Acts 2, you’ll notice the disciples met together regularly, not only in the Temple, but also in houses with one another. The word for house here is oikos and refers to the household and ‘extended family’ way of life that would have been so familiar to the disciples. In this chapter you see how the disciples regularly ate together, shared the Apostles’ teaching, prayed together and shared all they had within this oikos environment – and the same concept is found throughout the New Testament. Through this they lived full and radical lives as disciples, and God added daily to their number those that were being saved!

Though we’ve retained the importance of meeting regularly in the large ‘Temple’ style gatherings on a Sunday, somewhere along the line our modern culture has told us that living out this day-to-day lifestyle of discipleship in the context of smaller, ‘household’ sized communities is less important. Yet, our experience is that this is the context where the most effective mission and discipleship takes place. These extended families on mission together are now the heartbeat of many thriving, passionate, missional churches across Europe and beyond.

Many people, in many places, doing many small things to change the world. That’s a discipleship movement.

For resources about the ideas mentioned in this article, visit 3dmpublishing.com. To connect with the 3DM team in New Zealand email admin@mc.org.nz.

 

For discussion

Why do you think our default mode seems to be creating and running more programmes?

What can you do to find a better balance between ‘Temple’ and ‘household’?

 

Exploring today’s missional issues from a variety of angles, each edition of Intermission will equip you and your group to engage with God in your community and beyond. Why not take up the challenge and start using Intermission in your community? For more information or to order copies click here.

Rosie at Trinity School for Ministry

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I write this sitting on my porch of my new home, in a small town about 30 minutes from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I’m here to study at Trinity School for Ministry, an evangelical Anglican seminary which aims to form Christian leaders for mission.

Before arriving here, I was wonderfully blessed to spend time with a dear friend, Jubilee, whom I shared a home with in Cairo. Our time together helped me transition as she patiently fielded questions on life in the USA. She even interpreted for her family when they understood me saying that the most frightening thing about North America is the ‘beer’ (I meant to talk about the large growly animals!).

I’m starting to feel settled and I’m excited about studying here. This semester I’m studying courses on ‘Evangelism and Church Planting,’ ‘Old Testament Introduction,’ ‘Biblical Interpretation,’ and ‘Systematic Theology.’ Today I read that “one of the privileges of coming away to seminary is the opportunity to drink from the well of a deep and sustaining tradition so that we in turn might pass it on to others.” This is my hope as I’m studying here.

Rosie has been a Mission Partner in Egypt. She is currently upskilling by studying at Trinity School of Ministry.