Saturday, September 26, 2009

My thoughts on "Why New Zealand?"...

A while back, DaNae mentioned I post some thoughts on our vision for New Zealand. I think about this often and have these pictures bouncing around in my head all the time. Below is my attempt at pulling these bouncing thoughts in order :) I hope this helps you see what God could do through this partnership!

"The Why Behind New Zealand…

I get asked this question a lot. Why New Zealand? I think it has several implications depending on who is asking it. Why New Zealand – as in “what called you there?” Why New Zealand – as in “why chose a developed country over an underdeveloped one?” Why New Zealand – as in “why do you feel the need to go overseas?” I’m sure there are other imbedded questions; however, these are the three that jump out to me. I can answer them in several ways…

• I can point you to the ‘Our Story’ section of our website for a more detailed account of how God worked in our life to call us to New Zealand. On one level, it answers all of these questions – God told us this was next.

• I can share how it was the answer to a six year prayer that God would give me a heart for one area of the globe to invest in. After my first few days in the country in March 2004, I knew New Zealand was God’s answer.

• I can share how I love and am drawn to their culture. It’s a post-church environment in which one gets to share a vibrant real gospel as if it’s a new thing. I love ministry where people want to see something real and living.

Each is a story I could elaborate on, however, I’d rather answer looking to the future. Why New Zealand – as in “what can the church become/what is its potential?” A closely related question is “how will cession benefit from our investment with them?” DaNae and I are called to invest in and equip the Church because we believe in its potential to reach its community and nation. God’s also used my involvement in the NZ church (three trips to aid in starting a youth camp) to call us to serve their culture (an answer to a prayer that started in 1998). Cession|community is a church with enormous potential to influence its community and draw them to Christ.

Cession is a church that may only be one of about twenty Wesleyan churches on the North Island but they are strategic and intentional in all they do. For the last four years, they’ve been preparing to plant another church and to launch a significant community outreach focus (through their church trust) from their church family. They’ve built relationships with their neighbors, secured a location, launched community-wide activities, and prepared their church body for a community focus. They’ve asked us to join them for the next two years to direct their trust and partner with them in making their dream a reality. Their dream is that the community will see a church that is more than a building and platitudes; it’s one that demonstrates Christ love by serving and meeting the real needs of individuals and families in the Howick/Botany area of Auckland. I think cession’s effectiveness will pivot on their ability to let the community see a church body that has compassion and care for the needs of their community first. I believe a ministry of meeting practical needs will build relationships that will allow the power of Jesus Christ to be a welcome meaning-filled contrast to a life without Him. I believe cession’s dream will enable them to break through and connect with Kiwis living in a post-church culture where faith is overlooked.

So, why does the church need us? How will they benefit from our investment with them? These are really awkward questions to answer on your own. So, let me share some of what Brett (cession|community’s pastor) has shared with us. Cession|community is a church of visionaries and dreamers. Their leadership is very creative in how they envision ways to minister. What they lack, though, are people on their team primarily gifted with the abilities to put feet to a vision and work a plan to make it happen. This is where DaNae and I come in. Through our past experiences and gifting, God’s developed this in us. We’re creative people who lead best when we’re partnered with highly visionary leaders. We best serve God when we’re on a team and able to take a vision, refine it, and put a plan together to make it a reality. This is exactly the way cession|community functions and the skills they need to move forward.

As I was trying to think of an analogy to bring clarity to our role, our vision of parenting kept coming to mind. DaNae and I see ourselves as the one’s primarily responsible for Caleb’s and Aedan’s development into the men God wants them to be. We are the ones tasked with shepherding them and letting them discover God’s plan for them. With this in mind, though, we’re also keenly aware that we are not the only important and necessary influences in their lives. Grandparents and family, friends, teachers, leaders, and other key adults have fed into and invested in our boys. They are who they are and who they will be because of God’s orchestrated effort of many. The composition of our boys wouldn’t be the same if any of His instruments were left out. I see our call to cession|community in New Zealand in the same way. We need to be there as one of the pieces God uses to move them toward the plan he has for them. We are not the answer or significant keys to the answer. We believe God wants us to simply be one of the instruments he uses to encourage and equip them as they strive to reach their community in a way that demonstrates love and compassion."