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What’s Next? Moving Beyond 200 Years (Issue 22)

As I have been traveling around the country lately, people have been asking me: what’s next? As we move forward from 2014, I think there are three important things for us to keep in mind.

Telling the Story

There are many people, schools and groups that still don’t know how the Gospel story is weaved into the New Zealand story. Recently, I spoke at a school assembly in Christchurch on the impact and legacy of the Gospel in early New Zealand history and the events surrounding Samuel Marsden’s first Christmas Day service. 2014 may be over but we can still be telling that story – we have a great opportunity to talk about our history in a way that celebrates what the Gospel has done in our land.

Living the Story

Last year we learnt that New Zealand’s story is largely about the weaving together of cultures. Many people recognize the role of Maori as Tangata Whenua and the unique place they have as spiritual guardians of the land. NZCMS feels called to re-engage with Maori like our forebears did and to rediscover the power of our bicultural identity under Christ. This will mean an ongoing journey of repentance and reconciliation for the wrongs of the past as well as the forging of a future together in local and overseas mission.

Sharing the Story

When we launched our ‘reverse mission’ teams last year we had a sense that God would use the opportunity to do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine. We had over 40 African evangelists visit New Zealand and the results exceeded expectations. And there is an opportunity to continue sharing ministry with our African brothers and sisters. That may involve inviting African missionaries to come to New Zealand for short or long term or it may mean building partnerships between churches here and churches there.

As an African, I am deeply sensitive to the issues of colonisation and Christianity. The story of the Treaty and the Gospel is one of both real hope and genuine heartbreak for both Maori and Pakeha. Through sharing stories of our colonial and multicultural history, African leaders can assist Kiwis in reflecting on their own process of ‘becoming.’ It has been said that the Gospel is never safe in any culture without a witness within that culture from beyond itself. Visitors may graciously help us overcome our blind spots. As we focus our attention less on our differences and more on what it means to come together as one people, we can join the Apostle Paul in his vision of “being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22).

For Discussion

As we move on from the Gospel bicentenary, what do you feel is the best way forward for the Church of New Zealand? What about for yourself?

How can you tell, live and share the story in 2015?