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The goal of this project was to discover a church model that helps de-churched New Zealanders grow as followers of Jesus and in relationships with each other. The strategy followed was to include the de-churched in the identification of activities that they believed would help their formation. The context of this study was the Kiwi Church faith community, a new church congregation of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand. The study led to the definition of church for this community as “Doing life with Jesus, and each other.”
Six participants were interviewed at the beginning of the project to gain an understanding of their current level of spirituality, and identify possible activities to experiment with. The activities, along with other spiritual exercises identified by the author, were experimented with over a period of eighteen months, and then the participants interviewed again.
The learning from this process is in three main areas: activities, leadership and environment. It was found that the predominant leadership model of the PCANZ was not suitable to lead this type of faith community, therefore a new model, “player-coach” proposed. The church environment required has a number of characteristics: equalitarian, freedom to doubt and question, no expectation to serve, and a high level of hospitality and listening. The most significant aspect being the high value placed on an invitation to authentic relationships. It was found that the church environment was impacted negatively when activity was prioritized over relationship. The Church of England’s four- directional model describing a healthy church was examined, and two additional relationships proposed, one with the land and environment, and one with oneself.
Church expression can be simple, and it often becomes more complicated than necessary. The key ingredient missing in the ecclesiastical landscape of New Zealand is imagination. Church can, and should be expressed in many different ways responding to the context each community is located.
Doctor of Ministry
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Tempero, Darryl, "A New Zealand Contextual Church Model that Fosters Community and Discipleship" (2017). Doctor of Ministry Projects. 280.