Mid-week service

We are exploring starting a mid-week service because we are aware Sunday’s are not the only time we could gather for worship. For some of our older people, people at home with young families, shift workers and others, a day time mid-week service may be a more suitable option.
The suggestion of a mid-week daytime service came out of the feedback from meetings at Halswell after we decided to bring our Sunday services together. It seems like a good time to explore whether there is a core of people interested in and willing to help make a mid-week service happen. If we were to have a mid-week service we would base it at the Halswell site. As we explore this possibility we would value your thoughts and potential contribution.

Here is a questionnaire that you could fill out and send to Ruth TownsendAlison Ford and Warren Read.

If you are interested we would really appreciate you taking the time to complete the attached questionnaire and return this to us.

How is the foyer upgrade going?

Those of you who took the chance to have a wander around, will have seen we are well underway with the foyer upgrade. Next week the painting will start and then we will be into finishing, fitting out the toilets and installing lights and plugs, benches and the information cabinetry.

Like most building projects there have been some surprises along the way, including;

·         Finding a myriad of wiring and a number of switch boards, so we have rationalized this as part of the project and created one main electrical switch board in the office block.

·         Future proofing the area with audio and digital cabling.

·         Needing to add fireproofing to the all the steel framework to meet new fire regulations and ensure safety.

·         Some hold ups with materials and suppliers.

Despite this we have had a brilliant team of builders and contractors who have done all they can to keep this job moving forward. Most of the team on the job are part of the church and they have created a great working team.

It looks like we will achieve all the aims we had for the project but one. We had hoped to have a separate room for the church library, but have had to compromise and will create a library space in the entrance area from the main car park. The advantage in this is that the library will have great visibility and its location will hopefully encourage greater reading of the library books.

Please don’t hold me to this, but we are working to having the area open on Sunday the 17th of May. There will probably be a few fittings still not in place at that point and we may be working off a temporary information counter but we will be operational.  So if possible, we will be able to officially open the area on Sunday the 24th of May.

Emotional Intelligence and Personal Leadership Course

On June the 14th we will have Andrew Picard with us. Andrew is the lecturer from Carey College who teaches the Personal Leadership Course. You can read more about Andrew here  and a little about the course here.

Andrew will speak at the morning services on Sunday the 14th of June and we will then run a 2 hour introduction to the leadership course that Sunday afternoon.
This intro will cover;

1. Introduction to the leadership course – how it runs, what it covers and how you could be part of it at an interest level or as a course towards a qualification.

2. A section of the course on ’emotional intelligence and leadership’ as a introduction to the course and a taster to the material covered.

If you would like to be part of this please let me know ajamieson@swbc.org.nz

018 Manager

018 Manager?
If you were able to attend the church AGM you will have heard about a new role we are setting up and have asked Grant Chivers to fill. But if you were not at the AGM then you may not have caught up with what’s happening.

018 is the name we use to describe our children’s and youth ministries. It stands for all we do for those from 0 years to 18 years of age and includes the Sunday children programmes, youth communities, preschools, after school and holiday programmes, links with Project Esther and work with primary schools, 24/7 youth workers etc.

Since 2010 we have been looking at how these related ministries together to see how we can ‘work together in mission’. This has enabled some fantastic new initiatives like the Combined Force camps we hold to help support and train young leaders across all of these ministries at one camp together. Or, the way between the youth communities (under SYC trust) and the Sunday children’s ministries we were able to establish a role particularly focused on year 7 and 8 students (what I would call intermediates). This enabled a mid-week youth group to start focused on year 7 & 8’s and greatly strengthened our Sunday programme in this area. Both have been wonderful initiatives that we needed to work together on to achieve. Over the last few years Duane has been bringing these 018 ministries together and helping to build all they do. However, Duane is away for the next six months and will likely need to pick up new responsibilities in 2016.

Looking ahead we are very aware that Tim Perry, our lead Youth Pastor, is working towards heading overseas. This is an exciting move for the church and Tim & Katie but will leave a big gap in our youth work here.

So with all this in mind we have beedeveloping a new role, which we have called 018 manager. The key responsibilities in this role are:

1. Leading the Sunday School and Youth teams
2. Managing the meetings of the 6 trusts in the 018 area (Building blocks, Acorn, Cross-over, Project Esther, SYC and SHARP) to enhance working together, support and communication.
3. Coordination and communication in the 018 area within the church and with other key organisations in this area
4. Resourcing new initiatives in the 018 areas

Tim is picking up these responsibilities and pioneering the role this year.

Looking ahead we knew we needed to find a new person for this work soon and in the providence of God someone came across our paths who has great experience, passion and skills in this area.

So the Elders and CLT investigated and later interviewed Grant Chivers, now a pastor at Rangiora Baptist. At the AGM we explained that the interviewing, prayer and discussions had gone really well and we believed God was nudging us to call Grant into this role.

Grant is married to Emma and they have three children. They have been part of Rangiora Baptist for many years, so contemplating a move was a very big step for them.

Grant has led youth work in the church and been part of the Canterbury youth work, he has been involved in children’s work and managed a number of youth leaders and workers. He has set up and been involved in the management and governance of a number of trusts and together they have been involved in mission work for a number of years in Africa. So they come with great experience and skill.

On Sunday the 10th of May we will be welcoming the Chivers family to the church and introducing them to everyone as they begin to move into the south west area and become part of us here. Having Grant beginning work in May allows for some support for Tim over the next six months and also lays a platform for the development of the 018 manager role which Grant will pick up as Tim steps back.

Our Merger of Two Churches becoming One in Mission Together – Where are we at?

Click here for a link to the PDF of the Merger document.

Below is a paper outlining the background and issues we are facing as we look at our morning services and continuing the merger that brought Halswell and Spreydon together as South West Baptist Church

What has led us to this point?

Background
In late 2011 and throughout 2012, Halswell Baptist Church and Spreydon Baptist Church talked and prayed together about the anticipated growth in the South West of the city and how we could reach out to people moving into the area with the love, message and hope of Christ.
We looked at different ways we could support each other as sister churches, or in shared mission projects, but through this process sensed God calling us to the much more radical choice of fully combining to become one church together. So, we merged as one church. Halswell and Spreydon became South West Baptist Church.

We believe 3 things are vital to our mission in South West:
• The growth of specialist ministries to meet the growing needs of people in the area (e.g. after school programmes, preschools, 24/7 workers etc)
• The growth of Neighbourhood Communities so that we all have a place to belong, grow and serve
• A place to gather on Sundays together as one church to unite around the Word, worship and vision

There have been many positive steps during the first 2 years as South West Baptist Church, including the combining of our:
• Youth & children
• Young adults
• Global mission support
• Pastoral care
• Finances and administration
• Staff and elders
• Combined events

There are other areas not going so well, yet:
• The approach we took of building up the Sunday morning congregation at Halswell as a base for growing Neighbourhood Communities has not been effective (1)
• We have noticed a lot of ‘us’ and ‘them’, ‘our site’ and ‘their site’ talk that indicates we haven’t completed the merger yet. There has even been talk about de-merging. This is somewhat understandable as joining structurally is relatively easy but joining lives, hearts and minds is far trickier and takes more time. This was never going to be easy and we have certainly made mistakes, but we are committed to going forward and completing the merger to the point where we all see the new body of SWBC as us
• Our morning gatherings are a key area where we are stretched:
•We have three Sunday morning gatherings all one hour apart (9am, 10am and 11am) and geographically very close together (7 or 8 minutes by car)
• This is stretching our children’s work, worship, hospitality, welcoming and preaching. Alan is probably the most obvious point of this stretch as he has regularly been speaking at all 3 services to help build unity, common preaching and to ensure there has not been the sense of a gathering being more important because it has the Senior Pastor
• We want to do our gatherings well, improving the quality, depth and connection with people. There is much we could develop here
• We hoped to be going to a new large church site at Wigram. This would’ve allowed us to reduce the number of morning gatherings (to either 1 or 2). We are exploring options of other sites where we could gather as much of the church together at one time as possible. These include a greenfield build, purchase and renovation of an existing building, develop the Spreydon site or partnering with other existing organisations on a shared building

The immediate problem is, until then, we are stretched in our morning gatherings
• We explored having a 10am service at Spreydon and a 10am at Halswell. However, we couldn’t fit everyone at these two services
• We could, however, all fit in two morning gatherings at the Spreydon site. This would allow us to combine kids, worship and preachers so that we could reduce the present sense of stretch while strengthening the quality of our gatherings and uniting us closer together

Where do we want to get to?
We sense a call to be one church in mission in the South West of the city. This means:
• We will be dispersed in Neighbourhood Communities, life groups and ministries
• We will worship together with as many people together at one time and place as possible and we want to do our gatherings well, improving the quality, depth and connection for people
• We want to be united as one church

How do we get there?
We are asking the church to consider options to help us move ahead. As a leadership, we have prayed and looked at many options. As we have considered each one, we have asked:
– will it help us in mission to South West?
– will it strengthen our Neighbourhood Communities, life groups, ministries and gatherings?
– will it unite us as one church?
While we are open to other options,we are suggesting two:
1) Begin the move towards gathering together as much of the church as possible in as fewer times and spaces as we can on a Sunday now by asking everyone to come to either the 9am or 11am gatherings at Spreydon site
2) We continue with 3 gatherings at 2 separate sites for now as we move towards a gathering for as many of us to be together at one time and in one place for worship. For this to happen, we would ask Duane or Ants or both to lead the Halswell work in the development of Neighbourhood Communities, ministries, gatherings and to strengthen our unity

Process for decision
We are looking to make a decision over the next six weeks. Between February 1 and February 20 we will talk with leaders and church groups seeking their input and prayer. We will hold two open meetings to consider options on Tuesday February 24 and Wednesday February 25. After these meetings, we will summarise all the options, considerations and perspectives and make this available via the website and in paper form to the church. On March 3 we will have an open prayer time to pray together. The elders will then make a decision based on recommendations from the Core Leadership Team as to a way ahead.

Implementation
Once a decision is made an implementation plan will be established to allow timely and careful planning. Any change will be carefully explained and appropriate steps put in place.

Common Questions
1. Would the lack of a second gathering space in Halswell hinder the mission to the South West by reducing our presence in the community?
Response
– We want to increase our presence mainly through our Neighbourhood
Communities and ministries operating from all church sites and in the wider area. Although having more gatherings closer to people would have a degree of missional benefit, we believe it would be minimal considering how close the two current sites are and the fact that most people drive
– Any mission loss would be outweighed by better gatherings
– If close walking distance to as Sunday service was the key mission factor, then we should look at having gatherings in more neighbourhoods. Both our own church experience in area congregations and our current understanding of mission in New Zealand leads us to believe proximity for a morning service is not a key barrier to people coming to church
2. Other churches are developing a multi-site basis for services on Sundays
Response
– We are focusing on the SW of Christchurch, which isn’t so large as to
demand multiple gathering sites. Our present sites are much closer than churches in multi-site model would normally operate
– Being dispersed throughout the week in our vocations, ministries, life groups and Neighbourhood Communities we want to come together as one on a Sunday
3. It’s good to have a smaller gathering for people as some people prefer smaller churches
Response
– This is true. However our aim is to reach the growing South West community. If we do that we will inevitably grow
– Our church has a wide range of ministries and connected trusts that care for many people. If we split into a number of smaller congregations we would lose the base of people, leaders, skill, prayer and financial support that makes this possible. We want to grow our base for the sake of new ministries and the growth of existing ministries
– Looking forward we sense the Neighbourhood Communities can provide the smaller, relational place of belonging
4. Some people would have to drive further to a gathering
Response
– we don’t think the distance is unreasonable and if it was a key factor we could use church vans or arrange neighbours to provide rides for those who would struggle to travel independently.
5. It was promised in the merger that we would always have a Sunday gathering at Halswell
Response
– No, it was promised that we would be one church coming together for the sake of mission to the South West of our city. There were various options around Sunday gatherings, including Wigram, Halswell site and Spreydon site that were discussed, but ultimately we merged around mission together

How can I be part of this decision?
We would appreciate your prayers and your thoughts.
– You can share these at the two open meetings (February 24 and 25) or by email to ajamieson@swbc.org.nz
– If your life group, ministry or Neighbourhood Community would like to discuss these potential changes with one of the leadership team please email Alan and he will arrange for one of us to attend your next meeting
– Take the time to complete one of the surveys we will send out seeking your thoughts and input

(1) Neighbourhood communities begin when 4 or 5 people commit to anchoring the forming of relationships, prayer and reaching out where they live. Others can join them, at varying levels of involvement, regardless of which gathering they attend on a Sunday. With this in mind we will focus more on getting these small nucleus underway and less on a particular service as a basis for neighbourhood groups beginning.

Chapter 3 – Unexpected Gifts

Chapter 3 Insulation
“Let those who cannot be alone beware of community. . .
let those who are not in community beware of being alone.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I appreciated this chapter and not only because it described the authors experience of walking the Camino de Santiago which Sandra and I did last year. The essence of the chapter is our communities need us to take a break, to be absent as well as present. In any job, ministry or community we commit to our commitment needs times of stepping back, “periods of withdrawal, retreat or other forms of creative absence” (p34). Without these times, we can over identify with the community failing to nurture our own development and the community can “close in on itself”.

The author draws on Henri Nouwen and his commitment to community and his integral awareness of the need for strategic absences. Quotes from Nouwen include:-

“Claim your Unique Presence in Your Community” he wrote, “Your way of being present to your community may require times of absence, prayer, writing, or solitude. These, too, are times for your community. They allow you to be deeply present to your people and speak words that come from God in you.”

“Your community needs you, but maybe not as a constant presence. Your community might need you as a presence that offers courage and spiritual food for the journey, a presence that creates the safe ground in which others can grow and develop, a presence that belongs to the matrix of the community. But your community also needs your creative absence.”

That absence might simply be a night at home watching the rugby rather than being with others, or it may be a more purposeful time of renewal.

He then goes on to describe how their community began without room for times of sabbatical and years down track realised for the health of individuals and the communities they were growing, they needed to encourage people after around 6 years to take a substantial, planned and purposeful break. However, having talked about it no one put their name forward to take such a break until he did it himself. He writes of his feelings saying:

“I was hesitant.
It was hard for me to stop.
I was concerned that I’d lose grounding in the community.
I feared that coming back from sabbatical, I might find I was no longer needed. ”

And yet, after taking a sabbatical break, he said “I returned with a renewed appreciation for my community (p46).” And the community had grown through the experience. Others had taken on the leadership. “They led. They dreamed. They made major decisions.” “Creative absence suggests awakening to our own recognition that our community sometimes needs a break, sometimes needs space to reorganise itself, and sometimes needs the freedom to grow without the dominant voices (p47).”

Last year, we had the opportunity to take a sabbatical break. Previously, I had times of study away from pastoral work. After 8 years I had a year to complete my Ph.D. Five years later, I took six or seven weeks out to write a book and did the same four years later, but I had never had time simply to be renewed without an external piece of work to complete. In planning the time away, I felt all the hesitant feelings that Christopher described in this chapter and I felt taking the time was a luxury that many many people never could contemplate. So, not wanting to be a burden on anyone or beholden to anyone, I took some annual leave and leave without pay and went away for 11 weeks. We walked the Camino and then wandered through some of Greece and Turkey. We saw many old Christian sites like the Island of Patmos (my favourite) Ephesus, Corinth and Athens.

Looking back now, six months after getting home, I realise how significant that time has been for me.

Christopher states toward the end of the chapter – “Though I’ve gained clarity in recognising my need for absence, it’s still hard to take. My rhythms have become clearer over the years. I know I need the Sabbath for rest, retreats for reflection, vacations for recreation, and sabbaticals for renewal. All of which benefit my community.”

Chapter 2 – Unexpected gifts

Chapter 2 looks at the place of doubt in personal faith and community life. For me the stand out line was the response Christopher asked a long-term leader in community life – “What is the single best piece of advice you could give to a community that lives and serves among those in poverty?

Without having to think about it, Jaya replied, “worship together.” (p30)

“In his usual way of simplifying complicate things, he explained that communities that live among those who are poor are exposed to painful realities that will inevitably cause their members to doubt the goodness of God. He said that worship is an affirmation of God’s goodness in the face of suffering. Proclaiming God’s love in places where love seems absent is a prophetic act of hope, and hope is all that some of our poorest friends have left, Jaya pointed out that worshipping together as a community allows us to carry one another. Some of us will have doubts while other’s faith remains strong, and that polarity is necessary for a community of faith to remain grounded.
Almost twenty years later, I can say that that was some of the best advice I’ve ever been given.”

For us at SWBC as we encourage the emergence of neighbourhood communities this is timely wisdom. As small communities and on Sundays when we gather together with other communities, life groups and individuals, worship is our lifeblood. It reminds us who we serve, why we serve and who gives us life, hope and energy. This is true for us personally and for the life of our communities.

Worship draws us together around God. Worship refocuses our minds and humbles our spirits. Worship reminds us that whatever we are doing or whatever we are focused on, it is not about us. It is about God: God leading us and working through us. Worship reminds us we are invited by God into community together and as partners with what God is doing in our communities, through our work and ministries, in our families and homes.

In the chapter Christopher draws on the life of Mother Teresa. He explains her extended times of doubt saying: “what’s amazing, given her crisis of faith, is that Mother Teresa remained committed to God and to her community. That is one of the most selfless acts of abandoned love: offering yourself to one whose love may not feel returned. Her confessions of doubt were also an indication of her honesty. Rather than lying about an unwavering faith, she had the courage to enter so-called forbidden places by asking difficult questions about God.”