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UCANZ Updates

The Uniting Congregations of Aotearoa New Zealand community of Partner Churches is a continuing journey of God’s people seeking to reflect the essential unity of Christ’s Church.

Below are the updates from Andrew Doubleday, UCANZ Ministry Facilitator.

  • Update week beginning 17 April 2023

    Kia ora e te whānau

    Forum 2023 looms

    Registrations are low. I’ve had queries from a few that you have not yet been invoiced – they will not be far away. It looks like the forum this year will be small. I draw comfort from that text I oft heard quoted when growing up – “Despise not the day of small beginnings”.  It does raise questions of ‘why’? All to be considered after the event. We are now less than two weeks out.

    I’ve updated the flyer. A copy is attached. Rev Hana Popea (White Ribbon Ambassador for the Presbyterian Church will be presenting a workshop on violence against women and girls and how we might respond as local churches.

    I’ve left the forum link below – we’ll still accept late registrations. The form can be accessed here.

    Standing Committee 2023/24

    We have received 7 nominations for the next year. They are: Robyn Brown, Sue Brown, Jean Faithful, Andrew Howley, Kaurasi Lagi,  Jeff Odhiambo, and Fei Taule’ale’ausumai. Biographical details will be sent to those registered for the forum.

     

    Leadership Resource

    Found a fascinating article a while back on how much information we need to make a good decision. It sounds a wee bit like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy where the answer given by a supercomputer to “the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything” is 42.

    Apparently the answer is 37%. It’s a relatively short article, and provocative.

    The 37 Percent Rule: The Mathematical Trick for Making Much Better Decisions

    And Finally…..

    This week I’ve posted a homily for this week, the 23rd of April – the Gospel text is John 20:19-31.

    Titled - The Burning Heart, a Work of the Spirit – Luke 24:13-35. It can be seen/heard here.

    I don’t expect clergy to be viewing/listening to these videos – why should you? We all have our own particular bias and areas of interest. However, it’s potentially a resource for churches that struggle to put something before your small number on a Sunday, or even midweek groups. Use these as you will.

     

    Kind regards / Ngā Manaakitanga

    Andrew Doubleday
    Ministry Facilitator

  • Update week beginning 24 April 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau

    Forum 2023 is with us. Almost

    After weeks of waking up in the middle of the night worrying that this was going to ‘work’, I’ve finally concluded that it isn’t about me, and that even if I wasn’t there it would likely go off just fine.

    Most will know that I’ve updated the flyer. There are a number of email recipients (nearly all ‘methodist.org.’) that ‘pinged’ back, and didn’t receive the updated flyer with the inclusion of Rev Hana Popea in the first session for the Saturday afternoon. As the White Ribbon Ambassador for the Presbyterian Church she will be offering a workshop for how the church can respond to violence against women and children.

    I’ve left the forum link below – we’ll still accept late registrations. The form can be accessed here.

    Forum Booklets

    I hope to be able to send out a digital copy in the next day or so to those who have registered – just one or two last items to include. Hard copies will be available at registration, and will include pretty well everything you need to know for the forum. 

    Leadership Resource

    Yes, the BBC produces very interesting resources. I came across this article on Illeism. Something I’d never heard of. Apparently an ancient strategy to help make better decisions. To give ourselves some emotional distance we put ourselves in the 3rd person, and effectively take the personal out of the process. You can read about it here.

    Ministry Resource

    A colleague sent me a link to a podcast series produced by Rev Malcolm Gordon – on the staff at 1st  Presbyterian Church, Dunedin. It’s on forgiveness. It is brutally and disarmingly honest. It opens with Malcolm’s acknowledgement that he doesn’t know HOW to forgive and has put the series together to explore the issue.

    It struck me as I listened to the introductory podcast that, even if you believe you don’t have an issue with forgiveness, Malcolm has tapped into something that many people will find themselves powerfully resonating with. And, perhaps as importantly, he addresses his own struggle with such a measure of transparent honesty that he provides a powerful model of what Christian ministry should look like. It’s incarnational. You can tap into the series here.

    But wait, there’s more….

    I came across this article this morning – Pope Francis encouraging the practice of the daily examen. This is a key component of Ignatian (Jesuit) spirituality. It is one discipline I struggle engage with – not because there is anything wrong with it – in fact it can be very powerful and good - It’s simply a review of the day in company with Jesus. Yet come the end of the day, I just want to go to sleep. Yes, there’s something here for me….

    For some, unaccustomed to the Catholic world, you may find references to Mary off-putting. My encouragement is to feast on what you can, and leave the rest. Here it is.

    And Finally…..

    Another homily

    For this week, the 30th  of April – the Gospel text is John 10:1-10.

    Titled – ‘Only One Way In’ it can be seen and heard here.

     

    As I’ve said before (even just last week),  I don’t expect clergy to be viewing/listening to these videos – why should you? We all have our own particular bias and areas of interest. However, it’s potentially a resource for churches that struggle to put something before your small number on a Sunday, or even midweek groups. Use these as you will.

    Kind regards / Ngā Manaakitanga

     

    Andrew Doubleday

    Ministry Facilitator

  • Update week beginning 1 May 2023

    Forum 2023 has come and gone.

    While our numbers were modest, this gave rise to a more intimate event. We gathered in our newest CV church plant, Crossway Community Church in Richmond, Christchurch, superbly hosted by its people. Dr Peter Lineham was inspirational as he traced the history of the ecumenical movement, and particularly of UCANZ and its precursors, and suggested some possible pathways ahead. We discovered that the site we were meeting on, had previously been occupied by the Richmond Mission – a pacifist evangelical group strong on conscientious objection to war in the opening decades of the 20th century. Its history had been written by Rev Mary Peterson, who would have been with us at the Forum, but is too unwell for her to attend. We are grateful for her long commitment to UCANZ and the ecumenical project and pray God’s presence and peace upon her as she faces the challenges ahead.

    We specifically thanked Jenny Chalmers as she came to the end of her time as Standing Committee Chair, and Geraldine Coats as she had so ably ‘held the fort’ for an extended period between Executive Officers. We also acknowledged the contribution of Heather Kennedy as she completed her term on the Standing Committee, and expressed our gratitude to Stephanie Wells for her organisation that kept us extremely well fed and lubricated.

    The Saturday was very full – bookended by stimulating presentations by Dr Peter Lineham. It included our UCANZ BGM (Biennial General Meeting) and first meeting of the new Standing Committee. The afternoon was taken up with a series of workshops – starting with a presentation by Hana Popea-Dell in helping us find ways to respond to domestic violence. This was followed by a presentation by local Merv Bassett on Alpha, as a tool for revitalising church. This in turn was followed by Neil Adams presenting on NCD (Natural Church Development) - offering an effective tool for assessing church health. Finally Mark Chamberlain, Archdeacon for Regeneration and Mission in the Christchurch Anglican diocese, gave a very encouraging presentation on the accessibility of digital media – and demonstrated that it was within the capability of most of us to produce compelling on-line material that could significantly extend the reach of our message and ministry.

    My thanks to all who made for a very successful Forum. I’ve subsequently slept easier since.

    New Standing Committee

    Our Committee for the next two years is: Andrew Howley (Chair), Fei Taule’ale’ausumai (Co-chair), with current appointments from the partner churches being: Jenny Chalmers and Michael Hughes (Anglican); Ian Harris and Siosifa Pole (Methodist); Mary Peterson and Stephanie Wells (Presbyterian). Elected committee members are: Robyn Brown, Jean Faithful, Kaurasi Lagi, Sharlene Malaeimi, and Jeff Odhiambo.

    Leadership Resource

    A useful article by Rick Warren – encouraging us not to fill every moment that God gives:

    This one for this coming Sunday on John 14:1-14. Titled  ‘The Christlike God’ can be seen here:

     

    Kind regards / Ngā Manaakitanga

     

    Andrew Doubleday

    Ministry Facilitator

  • Update week beginning 8 May 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau

    Once again I have expanded the mailing list.

    If you have received this email, and wish to be removed, please let me know. I’ve not yet mastered the subscribe/unsubscribe technology. It’s on my ‘to do’ list. My intention is that a weekly UCANZ update continues to be sent out – typically on a Tuesday.

     

    Forum 2023 has come and gone.

    We shared a rich time together. Dr Peter Lineham was inspirational – both with his scholarly presentation, and with his warmth and generosity.

    His three presentations can be accessed on YouTube here.

     

    Grieved Acknowledgement

    Last week I referenced Rev Mary Peterson, and her inability to be present at the forum due to illness. She really did want to be there. I’ve been informed that Mary died this past Saturday surrounded by family. Her contribution to UCANZ and the wider church were significant. Among many other significant responsibilities over the past 3 decades Mary represented the Presbyterian Church on the Standing Committee with a whole-hearted engagement, in her own warm and gentle style. My memory of her goes back to the years she gave in Christchurch after the earthquakes as she resourced struggling parishes on behalf of the Methodist Synod.

    We are grateful for who she was, and what she did. Mary will not soon be forgotten.

     

    Personal and Leadership resources

    Struggle to remember what you’ve just read? Once again Jessica Stillman provides very useful insights in The 5 Most Effective Study Techniques You Were Never Taught in School. She offers a variety of ways of helping us retain information, more  through understanding rather than just rote memorisation. This article can be read here.

     

    But wait, there’s more, and it’s completely different -  How to train your brain to master memory and focus to unleash your inner genius. To quote the introduction to the article - Dave Farrow is the two-time Guinness World record holder for Most Decks of Playing Cards Remembered in a Single Sighting, as well as an entrepreneur, speaker, and memory coach. Farrow shares five key insights from his new book, Brainhacker: Master Memory, Focus, Emotions, and More to Unleash the Genius Within. Can be read here.

    And finally, Another Homily

    This one for this coming Sunday based on John 14:15-21. Titled  ‘Never Alone’ it can be seen here.

    Once again, use it as you will.


    Kind regards / Ngā Manaakitanga

    Andrew Doubleday

    Ministry Facilitator

  • Update week beginning 15 May 2023

    Forum 2023 is receding further into the past. The talks by Dr Peter Lineham remain available on YouTube. They cannot be accessed without this link.

     

    Rev Mary Peterson

    Last week we acknowledged Mary’s passing and expressed gratitude for all that she has given to the wider church over an extended period of time.

    A celebration of Mary's life will be held in the Grahamstown Chapel, 102 Kirkwood Street, Thames, on Monday 22nd May, at 1pm, followed by private cremation. Messages to: [E-Mail not displayed]

     

    Church Life Survey NZ

    UCANZ has committed to funding survey costs. The survey opens at the end of May and runs through into November. We encourage all churches to participate. It will give valuable information to each congregation about its own life, and will help us as a movement to see where we are positioned and what shifts might be required to enhance our future.

    You can register by following this link.

    Our group code is 316363

    Please be in touch with the office for more details. We’ll keep beating this drum as we believe it to be important. More details to follow.

     

    Personal and Leadership resources

    Navigating Road Blocks

    Get stuck when you hit obstacles and disheartened when you fail to meet targets or complete tasks you’ve set for yourself? As a serial procrastinator (apparently something like 80% of us are – so we’re in good company) I was encouraged by a set of strategies proposed by Nora Tobin in this Fast-Company article. Of course, reading an article is one thing. It’s easier to be like the one who reads the article but does not do what it says. Much like someone who looks at their face in a mirror and, after looking at themself, goes away and immediately forgets what they look like. (James 1:23,24). The value is in applying the specific strategies that Tobin advocates. Desperation is a wonderful motivator. Her article can be read here.

    Using Either of These 2 Words Will Change How People Hear What You Say

    Minda Zetlin advocates a simple change that will make our communications ‘stickier’ – helping our audience experience a greater level of identification and hence a greater likelihood of getting on board with what we’re saying. As one who has consistently advocated and sought to model owning my own ‘stuff’, this is inviting me to review that strategy. It can be read here.

     

    And finally, Another Homily – actually two of them.

    I found two distinct themes and could not prioritise one over the other. The Gospel text for this coming Sunday is John 17:1-11.

    Titled ‘Glory’, I have an alternative look at what Jesus intends when he speaks of his coming glory and his intention to glorify God.

    And

    Titled ‘Eternal Life’. I briefly examine what this gift looks like and Jesus intention that it is something we might experience now, rather than needing to be dead before we can appropriate it.

     

    Kind regards / Ngā Manaakitanga

     

    Andrew Doubleday
    Ministry Facilitator

  • Update week beginning 22 May 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau

    Yep, me, Andrew, again.

    First, a reminder that we’ve signed up for the Church Life Survey.

    It will give valuable information to each congregation about your own life, and will help us as a movement to see where we are positioned and what shifts might be required to enhance our future.

    The 2023 Church Life Survey NZ is nationwide survey of church attenders.

    It’s a 1-in-5 year opportunity for our movement to gain information from our attenders on demographics, church life, community, faith & leadership. These insights will be helpful for future decision making, for benchmarking in this post-COVID era.

    It will also contribute to a national picture of NZ church life.

    UCANZ has committed to funding the survey costs. The survey opens this week - on the 26th of this month, and runs through into early November. We encourage all churches to participate.

    We understand that your results will be available in real time.

    When you participate you will invite all church attenders to complete a 12–14-minute survey via their smartphone, computer, or pen & paper. The survey will be available in English, Māori, Samoan, Tongan, Fijian, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, Hindi & Spanish.

    You can register by following this link.

    Our group code is 316363

    Then simply follow the on-screen instruction.

    Please be in touch with the office for more details, especially if you get stuck. We’ll keep beating this drum as we believe it to be important.

     

    Personal and Leadership resources

    Fear of failure preventing you from becoming at least an approximation of who you could be? This one might be for you

    Breaking the Cycle of Self-Sabotage - How to Overcome the “Golden Larva Syndrome”

    A roadmap for identifying and overcoming the self-defeating habits that hold you back.

    It can be read here.

      

    And now for something completely different. Not so much about leadership and personal development so much as interest with theological implications. Over the years I’ve though a fair amount about death. Mostly anticipating my own. The issue has been sharpened over this past weekend by one of my best friends being one day’s worth of antibiotics away from not making it through the night. He made it.

    I came across a couple of articles that I found stimulating – they speak to the day in which we find ourselves. Both are on the Big Think website. The first is titled A longer life often means a worse death and can be read here.

    It holds up a mirror to our attitudes toward death and the lengths as a culture we go to in delaying it as long as possible without thinking too deeply whether or not the trade-off in misery is worth it.

    The second article Why Death Matters highlights, as the article describes, ‘to be alive is always to live in a “precarious condition.”’ Life itself needs to be constantly recreated – there is a need for death, renewal, change within the living organism to actually keep it alive. Life is a risky business. At times tenuous. It can be read here.

       

    And finally, Another Homily  

    I know it’s Pentecost Sunday coming up. Usually we use the Acts passage. Since I’ve committed myself to the Gospel text for each Sunday, this time we will look at the alternative gospel text. The primary gospel text is John 20 vs 19-23, but I put up a homily based on this text for 16th of April and have nothing further I wish to add. So this week, it John 7 vs 37-39 which is set in the Feast of Tabernacles/Booths/Sukkot. It is a prefiguring of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that happened at Pentecost. My title ‘How Thirsty are you?’ It can be experienced here.

    Kind regards / Ngā Manaakitanga

     

    Andrew Doubleday
    Ministry Facilitator

     

  • Update week beginning 29 May 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau

    Serendipity – an Ordination

    This Sunday past I had the joy of joining with hundreds of others at the ordination of Rev Lynmaree Sopoaga (affectionately known as ‘Aunty Lyn) at Trinity Darfield, 40 minutes out of Christchurch.

    Aunty Lyn was ordained to the Local Ordained Ministry of the Presbyterian Church. Five years into her ministry and the measure of affection for her – from the locals, from the people of Trinity Pacific from whence she had come, and from the wider church, was palpable. In terms of joyous occasions it set the bar very high. It expressed something of the best of the Christian community which drew from its breadth – one of the real strengths of being part of the Cooperating Ventures movement.

    I’ve linked a couple of photos belong from Trinity Pacific’s Facebook page. The first gives a sense of the way in which we were all packed in.

    The second, of the laying on of hands – specifically chosen of its importance and because I’m in it.

    Lower North Island tour

    I’ve booked my Ferry Tickets – crossing over to Wellington on Friday the 23rd of June, and back to Picton on Monday the 10th of July.

    The tour is being co-ordinated by Sarah Laurenson – Secretary of the Lower North Island Synod of the Methodist Church. Given that 30 out of the 36 Parishes in this synod are part of UCANZ it seemed like a useful partnership to capitalise on. The area we will be seeking to cover is that below the line from New Plymouth to Napier. I anticipate covering above the line in the not-too-distant future.

    This will give me three Sundays in the district – I’d love to be able to ‘preach’ as often as possible. While I’d prefer to ‘preach only’ with others taking care of the rest of the service, I’m happy to do multiple services each Sunday. I’d love to meet with leadership of as many churches as possible on weekdays / evenings and am more than happy to stay in your homes where hospitality is offered.

    Please be in contact with Sarah at [E-Mail not displayed] if this appeals in any way. My goal is to be a source of encouragement as much as I can, to get to know you and the challenges you face.  I may not be able to solve all, or any, of your problems – I will give a listening ear and reflect on what possibilities might lie before you.

    Personal and Leadership resources

    This one resonated with me – as a teenager believing I’d never marry as the idea of standing in front of a church full of people freaked me out – I can attest to the truth of this article. How Emotionally Intelligent People Use the Yerkes-Dodson Law to Turn Anxiety and Stress Into Optimal Performance and Achievement. Not all stress is bad – a measure of stress allows us to operate at a higher level. We need to learn how to make it work for us rather than against us. The article can be read here.

    And finally, Another Homily  

    This one is based on the gospel this coming Sunday – Matthew’s account of the giving of the Great Commission. As I sat with the text I was so struck by oddness of it all that I end up not talking about the Commission at all (presumably you’ve heard many discourses on this text). Instead I address why Matthew may have chosen to present this Commission in the way that he did. I hope you find it helpful as you continue to discern what is important in the life God has called each of you to.

    As I’ve said before, use these messages as you will. I did hear of a region in Australia of 170 churches with only 4 fulltime paid clergy resourcing them. Apparently using this technology to share resources is key to how it is done. This Sunday’s homily can be seen here.

    Kind regards / Ngā Manaakitanga

     

    Andrew Doubleday
    Ministry Facilitator

  • Update week beginning 5 June 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau

    It’s officially winter. I know, not everyone will agree – it depends on your metric.

    Church Life Survey

    Yes, I’m giving this another push.

    The 2023 Church Life Survey NZ is a nationwide survey of church attenders.

    This is a 1-in-5 year opportunity for our movement to gain information from our attenders on demographics, church life, community, faith & leadership. These insights will be helpful for future decision making, for benchmarking in this post-COVID era.

    If we miss this year, it’ll be 5 years before we have another opportunity

    It will cost you nothing except a little time, energy and engagement - UCANZ has committed to funding survey costs.

    The survey opened at the end of May and runs through into early November. We encourage all churches to participate. It will give valuable information to each congregation about its own life, and will help us as a movement to see where we are positioned and what shifts might be required to enhance our future.

    You can register by following this link.

    Our group code is 316363

    A draft questionnaire can be seen here.

    Please be in touch with the office for more details, or check out their website. We’ll continue beating this drum as we believe it’s too good an opportunity to miss.

    When you participate you will invite all church attenders to complete a 12–14 minute survey via their smartphone, computer, or pen & paper. The survey will be available in English, Māori, Samoan, Tongan, Fijian, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, Hindi & Spanish.

    An invitation from Sharlene – one of our Standing Committee Members

    ‘The NZ Methodist Women's Fellowship is having their Convention on October 12th to the 15th . Can those that are interested email Sharlene Malaeimi [E-Mail not displayed]. I would like to see if there are a number of lovely ladies from UCANZ who would like to attend our fellowship event (I can give more details if they are interested). There is a fee, we will be staying together at the Sudima hotel - this covers their room, food etc. If you require more information, please let me know.

    Lower North Island tour

    As announced and repeating what I wrote last week, I’ve booked my Ferry Tickets – crossing over to Wellington on Friday the 23rd of June, and back to Picton on Monday the 10th of July.

    The tour is being co-ordinated by Sarah Laurenson – Secretary of the Lower North Island Synod of the Methodist Church. Given that 30 out of the 36 Parishes in this synod are part of UCANZ it seemed like a useful partnership to capitalise on. The area we will be seeking to cover is that roughly below the line from New Plymouth to Napier. I anticipate covering above the line in the not-too-distant future.

    This will give me three Sundays in the district – I’d love to be able to ‘preach’ as often as possible. While I’d prefer to ‘preach only’ with others taking care of the rest of the service, I’m happy to do multiple services each Sunday. I’d love to meet with leadership of as many churches as possible on weekdays / evenings and am more than happy to stay in your homes where hospitality is offered.

    Please be in contact with Sarah at [E-Mail not displayed] if this appeals in any way. My goal is to be a source of encouragement as much as I can, to get to know you and the challenges you face.  I may not be able to solve all, or any, of your problems – I will give a listening ear and reflect on what possibilities might lie before you.

    Personal and Leadership resources

    Procrastination has been a regular companion of mine. A tendency to put off that which may be a little challenging.  I have a battery of articles on this. I’ll share two

    Procrastination is an Emotional Problem This article drills down to the core of the issue, and ultimately offers a relatively simple strategy to get going. It can be read here.

     Try these strategies to beat procrastiworking and really get stuff done

    And a much shorter offering, addressing the issue of ‘busywork’ – what the article refers to as ‘procrastiworking’ – avoiding ‘real’ work by filling in the time allowing the illusion that one has put in a good days work focussed on the unimportant. It can be read here.

    But wait, there’s more.

    I was on the road one evening, some years back, listening to National Radio and this song came on and grabbed me – really spoke to my procrastinating tendencies.  A group called Stornoway. The song? ‘The Great Procrastinator’. It can be heard here.

    And finally, Another Homily  

    The Gospel lectionary for this coming Sunday, the 11th of June, is Mt 9 vs 9-13, 18-26. I have chosen to focus on the first section concerning the calling of Matthew. I’ve titled it The Grace of an Unlikely Choice. Clearly he was a problematic option and Jesus uses the push-back as an opportunity for a teaching moment. It can be experienced here.

    Kind regards / Ngā Manaakitanga

     

    Andrew Doubleday
    Ministry Facilitator

  • Update week beginning 12 June 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau

    You may have noticed that this update comes from my personal email. We’re currently experiencing difficulties with the UCANZ internet service. Hopefully it will be restored within the next day or so. What it does mean is that since all our emails are in the cloud, we have no access to them until service is restored.

    Lower North Island tour

    We’re on track. I’m crossing to the North Island on Friday the 23rd  of June and returning on Monday the 10th of July. Sundays will be St Lukes Bell Block (25 June), Wairoa (2 July), and Hutt City Uniting (9 July). Everything else will be fitted between. If you’re below the New Plymouth to Wairoa line and would like me to visit with you, please contact me directly ASAP.

     

    Personal and Leadership resources

    On Burnout

    In my early days at Opawa (it was difficult), I was part of a ministerial synod event, designed to bring a measure of refreshment. One of our superintendents had arranged around the room a series of photos she had taken. We were invited to look at the photos and select one that seemed to draw us -  and to reflect upon our experience with a colleague. I found myself in front of a photo of a boardwalk, running into the distance, around a sand hill, presumably toward a beach. It had fences on both sides to ensure that people kept to the appointed path. I stood there for some time. I know this one had my name on it - it seeped into me a measure of despair. Standing beside and a little behind me was my friend, the now late Rob Ferguson. After a time he commented “You know Andrew, burn-out is not about working too hard or too long. It’s tends to be more about the futility of the task”. These were just the words I needed to hear, and they helped me be able to reframe my situation, and find a way forward

    So I have posted a couple of articles dealing with burnout.

    The first suggests the importance of support, even simply of a friend. It reminds me of the importance that all in ministry have adequate supervision. It’s titled - This Is the 1st Thing You Should Do If You Start to Feel Burnt Out.

    It can be read here.

    The second offers a series of strategies that help us open our mind to new options, to be able to reframe our situation and offer ourselves new and creative possibilities. It’s titled - A Brain-Based, 3-Step Tool to Help End Burnout.

    It can be read here.

     

    And finally, Another Homily 

    The Gospel lectionary for this coming Sunday, the 18th of June, is Mt 9 vs 35 to 10 vs 8. This text deals with the response of Jesus to the crowds that come to him, his way of seeing them, his commissioning of the twelve and sending them out. So often we struggle with our sense of inadequacy when the issue of ‘Evangelism’ is raised, and are reminded of our ‘duty’, of the things we ‘should’ or ‘ought’ to be doing. Yet it becomes clear that Jesus is primarily motivated by one thing – Compassion.

    As I’ve said numerous times, use this resource as you will – it’s simply one person’s musings on the text. It can be experienced here.

     

    Ngā manaakitanga

    Andrew Doubleday
    UCANZ Ministry Facilitator

  • Update week beginning 19 June 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau

    Internet service was finally restored to UCANZ last night. I’m grateful to the tech people who were able to help us get back across the line.

    I’m looking forward to the 22nd of June. I always look forward to this date. It happens to be my sister’s birthday. It is also the day when we pass the winter solstice, and although temperatures continue to plumet for the next couple of months, the days start to lengthen out. As an early riser who spends the first hours of the day in darkness, I love the awareness that we’re moving back to living life increasingly in the light.

     

    Lower North Island tour

    We’re still on track. Thank you to all those willing to host me for the next couple of weeks. I’m crossing to the North Island this coming Friday the 23rd  of June,  and returning on Monday the 10th of July. Sundays will be St Lukes Bell Block (25 June), Wairoa (2 July), and Hutt City Uniting (9 July). Criss-crossing the Island and meeting folks in often isolated and small church communities looks like it will be a hallmark of this tour.

     

    Church Life Survey

    Once again, I’m giving this another push.

    The 2023 Church Life Survey NZ is a nationwide survey of church attenders.

    This is a 1-in-5 year opportunity for our movement to gain information from our attenders on demographics, church life, community, faith & leadership. These insights will be helpful for future decision making, for benchmarking in this post-COVID era.

    If we miss this year, it’ll be 5 years before we have another opportunity

    It will cost you nothing except a little time, energy and engagement - UCANZ has committed to funding survey costs.

    The survey opened at the end of May and runs through into early November. We encourage all churches to participate. It will give valuable information to each congregation about its own life, and will help us as a movement to see where we are positioned and what shifts might be required to enhance our future.

    You can register by following this link.

    Our group code is 316363

    A draft questionnaire can be seen here.

    Please be in touch with the office for more details, or check out their website. We’ll continue beating this drum as we believe it’s too good an opportunity to miss.

    When you participate you will invite all church attenders to complete a 12–14 minute survey via their smartphone, computer, or pen & paper. The survey will be available in English, Māori, Samoan, Tongan, Fijian, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, Hindi & Spanish.

      

    Personal and Leadership resources

    Two articles this week

    1. Making Perfectionism Work FOR you

    This article is for those who get caught in the need for a perfect performance. The authors offer three very useful strategies for all in ministry in increasing our effectiveness.

     

    1. On models of story telling

    I’ve long been a believer in the power of story. As human beings we live in story, and our lives resonate with the stories of others that touch our own and open the possibility of healing, renewal, transformation. It’s one of the reasons Jesus made such extensive use of story-telling – we call them parables.

    While this article is designed for sales people, we are, in a sense ‘selling’ the most transformative product ever available – a life in Christ. It highlights five different story telling modes. The reason this is useful is that invites us to consider our objective in telling a particular story – what outcomes are we hoping for. It can be read here.

      

    And finally, Another Homily  

    The Gospel lectionary for this coming Sunday, the 25th of June, is Matthew 10 vs 24-39. While it seems to be a bit of a hotch-potch as far as a consistent narrative goes, there seems to me to be a basic underlying theme – a call to a surrendered life

    It can be experienced here.

    Kind regards / Ngā Manaakitanga

    Andrew Doubleday
    Ministry Facilitator

  • Update week beginning 26 June 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau

    Lower North Island tour

    I’m writing this from Bell Block. I’m being magnificently hosted, and yesterday enjoyed a wonderful day with people of the St Lukes Parish, Bell Block. They are innovative and creative, and have come up with a simple and effective model for being church without paid clergy. What they are doing could be replicated in many places. A great start to my travels around the district - Thank you Bell Block!

    Church Life Survey

    Because it continues to be important, I’ll simply repeat last week……

    The 2023 Church Life Survey NZ is a nationwide survey of church attenders.

    This is a 1-in-5 year opportunity for our movement to gain information from our attenders on demographics, church life, community, faith & leadership. These insights will be helpful for future decision making, for benchmarking in this post-COVID era.

    If we miss this year, it’ll be 5 years before we have another opportunity

    It will cost you nothing except a little time, energy and engagement - UCANZ has committed to funding survey costs.

    The survey opened at the end of May and runs through into early November. We encourage all churches to participate. It will give valuable information to each congregation about its own life, and will help us as a movement to see where we are positioned and what shifts might be required to enhance our future.

    You can register by following this link.

    Our group code is 316363

    A draft questionnaire can be seen here.

    Please be in touch with the office for more details, or check out their website. We’ll continue beating this drum as we believe it’s too good an opportunity to miss.

    When you participate you will invite all church attenders to complete a 12–14 minute survey via their smartphone, computer, or pen & paper. The survey will be available in English, Māori, Samoan, Tongan, Fijian, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, Hindi & Spanish.

     

    Personal and Leadership resources

    Two more articles this week

    On prioritising use of time.

    While its title is generic and a little misleading, this Fast Company article is useful in helping us address the ready tendency many of us have to prioritise the Urgent over the Important. If you want to do a deeper dive on the issues involved, I confidently recommend Steven Covey’s book ‘First Things First’. It’s still available. Taking its message seriously will almost certainly lead to positive life change. The article can be read here.

    When we see others doing well we have a couple of options – choose the better.

    Fast Company offers us a look at our tendency to pull others down, and the benefits of choosing an alternative option. It can be read here.

     

    And finally, Another Homily 

    The Gospel lectionary for this coming Sunday, the 2nd  of July, is Matthew 10 vs 40-42. I’ve titled my homily ‘The Grace that is Already Yours’. Jesus is giving instruction to his disciples as to how they are to conduct themselves as they head off on their first ‘Missions Trip’. The preparation was very useful to me personally as I prepared to head off on my current North Island tour 😊.

    It can be experienced here.

     

    Ngā manaakitanga

    Andrew Doubleday
    UCANZ Ministry Facilitator

  • Update week beginning 3 July 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau

    Once again the emailing list has continued to expand. If you find you’d prefer not to receive this weekly newsletter, please let me know and your address will be removed.

    Lower North Island tour

    As the country is gripped by cold (winter has really arrived) – the South Island battered by snow and heavy rain and the North Island by rain and strong winds - I’m just past the mid-point on my trip and am writing this from Napier. My travels have taken me across the Island, latterly enjoying the hospitality of Wairoa. I’ve been well received and enjoyed meetings congregations and church leaders.  While not blind to the significant challenges a number face, recognising the fragility of their situations, I’ve been struck, again and again, by the positive enthusiasm and optimism of parishes.

    I’m hoping/planning to make a similar tour across the centre of the North Island, (above the New Plymouth to Wairoa line) encompassing the Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Auckland regions. I’m looking at late August, early September. If you’re keen to see me, please let me know. I’ll be doing an email out to all the Parishes I can identify in the proposed travel area when I get back home.

    The Standing Committee has started meeting (by ‘zoom’) on a monthly basis. We’ve started planning our 2025 Forum, are looking at models for regional forums, and have appointed a finance committee.

    Personal and Leadership resources

    Just one article this week

    I’m intending to start including some articles on Spirituality.

    Over the past 15 years my life has been immeasurably enriched by Ignatian Spirituality. As the largest order in the Roman Catholic church, the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) stand in the spiritual tradition of Ignatius of Loyola. Ignatius, a Basque nobleman and former soldier, developed a set of ‘Spiritual Exercises’ that form the basis of Jesuit spirituality. They are profoundly biblical, and are grounded in the firm conviction that God can and is to be experienced and journeyed with in the everyday of life. These ‘exercises’ are generally experienced in either a 30+ day silent retreat, or a ‘retreat-in-daily-life’ over the best part of a year. I have ‘made’ the exercises in both forms – the latter first. (I wasn’t sure I could cope with a 30 day retreat at that stage in my journey). Either way, the experience has been life changing – offering me a freedom and joy in Christ I had not thought possible. It also stripped back many of the prejudices I had toward Catholics generally - I well remember the first Catholic Priest I met who stands squarely in this tradition – he was more ‘evangelical’ than most evangelicals I know – and evangelicalism is my tribe.

    So, a simple little article about prayer suggesting that the starting place in prayer is, in the words of the late Pope John Paul 2 “In order to see Jesus, we first need to let him look at us.” A radical thought for most of us. It can be read here.

    And finally, Another Homily 

    The Gospel lectionary for this coming Sunday, the 9th of July, is Matthew 11 vs 16-30. This one is titled ‘Toughing it out’ – which is how we fly in the face of Jesus’ gentle invitation to come to him and discover in him the grace that we need and can be ours.

    It can be experienced here

     

    Ngā manaakitanga

    Andrew Doubleday
    UCANZ Ministry Facilitator

  • Update week beginning 10 July 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau

    Once again the emailing list is continuing to expand. If you find you’d prefer not to receive this weekly newsletter, please let me know and your address will be removed.

    Lower North Island tour

    I’m sitting in the sun in a boarding house on a fresh and calm Wellington day as I type this. I’ve had a cancellation, so have some free time. I have just watched on YouTube the funeral of Dame Rev. Dr Phyllis Guthardt, very ably led by Rev. Dr Susan Thompson. ‘Phyll’, as her friends knew her, first woman ordained in the Methodist Church in NZ, First woman President, one time Chancellor of the University of Canterbury, scholar, mentor and friend. She was a pioneer in so many ways – especially modelling for young women how a rich, full, and life-giving Christian life could be led. For not the first time in my life I experienced regret – regret that I had not taken the opportunity to get to know her. Even just a little. I have no idea whether she would have welcomed such an encounter. What I am clear about is that the answer is always effectively ‘no’ if no attempt at contact is made. Another of the ‘what ifs’ of life. The only moment we truly have is the present one. And it is the only one in which God is present or can be experienced.

    As I travelled out of Napier up the Esk Valley toward Taupo this past Tuesday, I was filled with a heart-sickness as I was confronted with the devastation of the recent floods. The lives lost and others turned upside-down. How do we respond to this? ‘Thoughts and prayers’ seem somehow inadequate, yet in the face of such helplessness sometimes there is little more than most of us can do.

    The weekend ahead (which will be behind me by the time you read this) is chocka with meetings and bouncing back and forth up the Wellington-Kapiti coast. Yet, even as I’ve turned up to each place I’ve been so generously received, and while uncertain of where each conversation is going to go (I describe the experience as playing tennis with a ball machine), and finding myself constantly seeking the God’s grace in the moment, I have almost invariably come away with a sense of gratitude in being able to meet with this special group of people.

    As I said last week, I’m hoping/planning to make a similar tour across the centre of the North Island, (above the New Plymouth to Wairoa line) encompassing the Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Auckland regions. I’m looking at late August, early September. If you’re keen to see me, please let me know. I’ve already had a couple of responses. I’ll be doing an email out to all the Parishes I can identify in the proposed travel area when I get back home.

    Personal and Leadership resources

    United’s CEO Made Everyone Angry. His Apology Is a Brutal Reminder that Actions Speak Louder than Words

    The first link is to an article about Leadership – let our words and actions match. Few things destroy our credibility quicker than a disconnect between what we say, no matter how eloquently, and what we do. The CEO mentioned in this article will not soon be forgotten – for all the wrong reasons. Years taken building a reputation can be destroyed in a few moments.

    It can be read here.

    Even as I reflect upon what I’ve read, I’m aware that each of us have foibles and blind spots – and we have a tendency to give ourselves a ‘free pass’. It’s that unguarded moment that trips us up. We all need people around us who love us enough to reflect the truth to us. Sometimes this is in the form of close friends, sometimes in the form of professionals who provide ‘Supervision’.

    But wait there’s more

    Keep Forgetting Things? Neuroscience Says These 4 Simple Routines Significantly Boost Recall, Retention, and Long-Term Memory

    As I advance in age, every memory slippage is put down as evidence of advancing dementia. The reality is that small children also readily forget – ask any New Entrants teacher to show the pile of left property at the end of a school week. Yet this is cold comfort to my forgettery. So, Jeff Haden comes up with another set of useful strategies to help us remember. A potential boon for others who experience anxiety about this issue. This article can be read here.

    And finally, Another Homily 

    The Gospel lectionary Gospel text for this coming Sunday, the 16th of July, is  Matthew 13:18-23. Here Jesus gives an explanation of the Parable of the Sower. This video is simply a reprise of one I made for the 8th May 2020. – I reviewed what I had said then, and felt I could do no better now – so here it is posted again for a wider audience. It’s titled ‘Circumstances change’. It struck me that we so often see ourselves as locked in at a certain point in this parable, and fail to recognise that God is always scattering seed and the types of ground on which the seed is scattered can represent seasons of our life. Without giving it all away, it can be experienced here.

     

    Ngā manaakitanga

    Andrew Doubleday
    UCANZ Ministry Facilitator

  • Update week beginning 17 July 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau

    Home again jiggety jig. Having settled back in after nearly 3 weeks on the road I’ve concluded that it’s too long. While the parameters of my next tour into the Central North Island are set for 26 August to 10 September, future trips will, hopefully, be shorter, and more frequent.

    I’m grateful for all those that hosted me so generously over this tour just past – in their own homes, and in their church fellowships. While I believe that venture to have been worthwhile, the ultimate adjudicators of that are those of you with whom I visited.

    I enjoyed being with you. I hope you picked that up.

    My next ‘away mission’ is the final weekend this month when I’ll be back in the Lower North Island at UPOG (Uniting Parishes Oversight Group) in Levin.

    We remember with appreciation…

    David Dittmer died last week ( 12th of July)at Ranui Resthome in Alexandra. David was Co Chair of the Standing Committee 2011-2013, and had a long association with UCANZ and the Alexandra Clyde Lauder Union Parish. We are grateful for David’s life and contribution. His funeral will be held at St Enoch's Church, Alexandra, 12 Centennial Avenue at 2pm Saturday 22nd July. Our Prayers are with Beryl and the family.

    Personal and Leadership resources

    Devotional Resource – In Christ by E. Stanley Jones

    1. Stanley Jones was an American Missionary who served over 50 years in India. He died in 1973 at the age of 89. He wrote numerous books. The one I use again and again is “In Christ”. It has 365 single page per day meditations - where he considers each of the ‘in Christ’ references in the New Testament. The book was first published in 1961, so in part can appear somewhat dated. And yet I find such a richness in so many of his insights, in his profound love for Christ, and his awareness of Christ’s love for him - that I keep returning to it year by year. And each time it’s like I’m reading it for the first time. As to the title, Jones offers the truism that “You can’t get closer than ‘in’”.

    It gets reprinted from time to time by different publishers. I commend it to you.

    The Astonishing Link Between Pastors’ Personalities and Church Size

    A number of years ago I dabbled in the Enneagram. It was interesting. Yet not compelling enough for me to give long term attention to. For those of you who have, you may find this article, that I recently came, across of interest. In a generalised way it equates megachurch pastors’ personalities with a very narrow band of Enneagram types.

    It can be read here.

    And one more:

    How To Make People Feel Heard

    I still remember being challenged all those years ago in Theological College by Lynne (better half) on my not appearing to listen in a conversation I was having. I protested “I heard every word they said”, and proceeded to give a verbatim account of the encounter. “Yes”, she said, “but you didn’t look like you were listening”. So, here’s an article aimed at helping us engage more effectively.

    And finally, Another Homily  

    The lectionary Gospel text for this coming Sunday, the 16th of July, is  Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43. This one is the Parable of the Weeds (formerly known as the Parable of the Tares). I deal with it in two parts, following the way it is laid out in Scripture.

    It can be experienced here.

    As always, if you find you’d prefer not to receive this weekly newsletter, please let me know and your address will be removed.

    Ngā manaakitanga

    Andrew Doubleday
    UCANZ Ministry Facilitator

     

  • Update week beginning 24 July 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau

    I’m starting writing this on Saturday afternoon. I’ve just been for a run. I started slowly doing this a few weeks back. It’s been hard. Two years off, and it feels like I’ve never run in my life. Why now? I read an article that suggested that aging doesn’t necessarily mean that we can’t exercise effectively. We simply believe that we can’t. I stopped jogging in the rain some years back. I like my comfort. Today it’s raining, and 8 degrees. While slow, it was invigorating! Recognising that most of us in UCANZ have less years ahead of us than those behind us, my encouragement is to join me in making movement a greater priority. Where we can.

    St Andrew’s Motueka have asked me to share their search advert for a replacement for Rev Janet Marsh who is retiring at the end of the year. Janet leaves big shoes to fill – not because she has big feet, but because she’s definitely one out of the box. The notice is attached.

    This coming weekend I’ll be back in the Lower North Island at UPOG (Uniting Parishes Oversight Group) in Levin, sharing in the Lower North Island Methodist Synod (30 out of 36 Parishes in UCANZ) and preaching in Levin on Sunday.

     

    Personal and Leadership resources

    To Be a Better Leader, Repeat Yourself More

    Being in the same Parish for 26 years kept me on a slow growth curve. I read widely. My big fear was repeating myself, becoming stale, and insulting the intelligence of ‘my’ people . For many of those years one of the jokes is that I would occasionally start a sermon with “Guess what?”, and the congregation would respond “You’ve been reading a book!”

    Yet, repetition is important. We all leak. And the importance of this is especially true when we’re setting our values, and reminding people of why we’re here and what we’re on about. I liked the way Jessica Stillman put it in this INC article. It can be read here.

     The Rule of Advance Appreciation

    After the Christchurch Earthquake I became the Synod Property Convenor. It was a massive task. The Synod appointed Jill Hawkey (currently Christchurch Methodist Mission Executive Director) as Strategic Planning Coordinator to help us work out what we needed to do and how we needed to do it. I worked closely with Jill. It was one of the great privileges of my life. Jill is both an amazing leader and an extraordinary human being. One of the great lessons I learnt from Jill was that being nice to people paid great dividends – simple affirmations and ‘thank you’s could make a huge difference. So, this next article does a bit of a deeper dive into what Jill does naturally.

    Engaged in a long-term project – How to Supercharge Your Productivity

    If you’ve come across Scheherazade in ‘The One Thousand and One Arabian Nights’, you’ll know how she kept herself alive, in the face of certain death at the hands of a bitter and distrustful king, by telling a story each night, and leaving it with a cliff hanger ending that she would only resolve the following evening.

    If you’re engaged in a long-term writing project there are some clues here in how you can sustain yourself day by day. Another INC article by Jessica Stillman.

    And finally, Another Homily  (or a few)

    The Gospel lectionary Gospel text for this coming Sunday, the 30th of July, is  Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52. It’s actually 6 mini parables. In the end I choose to deal with the closing one which I suspect is rarely referred to in verses 51 and 52. It can be experienced here.

    In case you’re interested in the other five parables, I include links to homilies I put up on them in 2020 as follows:

    1. Sunday 10 May 2020 - Small Beginnings- Mt 13 vs 31-33    • Episode 50 - Sund...  

    (This one was a full ‘lockdown’ service with just me and my camera in the church.)

    1. 13 May 2020 - Finders Keepers - Mt 13 vs 44 • Episode 53 - 13 M...  
    2. 14 May 2020 - At what Price? - Mt 13 vs 45,46 • Episode 54 - 14 M...  
    3. 15 May 2020 - on Heaven and Hell - Mt 13 vs 47-50 • Episode 55 - 15 M...  
    4. 16 May 2020 - Monochrome to Colour Mt 13 vs 51-53 • Episode 56 - 16 M...   

    As always, if you find you’d prefer not to receive this weekly newsletter, please let me know and your address will be removed.

    Ngā manaakitanga

    Andrew Doubleday
    UCANZ Ministry Facilitator

  • Update week beginning 7 August 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau


    Once again, this email list has expanded. If you find yourself on this 'flight' and believe it is not for you, please simply let me know.

    The tour through Waikato / Coromandel / Bay of Plenty and King Country is slowly coming together. Some Parishes has been quick to claim time. Others, not so much. I’m confident that meeting together will be worthwhile.

    One of the issues that fairly constantly comes up is that of levies – the levies that are supposedly paid to UCANZ. We need to be clear – Parish levies are NOT paid to UCANZ. Adrian Skelton did a superb job in his time as Executive Officer in regularising the way that levies are paid. There is a uniform percentage across the country, with allowable deductions. This is a much fairer system than the ad-hoc process that happened before. The rate is decided by the RAG (Resource Allocation Group) – which comprises the General/Executive Secretaries from the Partner Anglican, Methodist and Presbyterian Churches, plus the Co-chairs and EO of UCANZ. The Parishes are on a 3-year rotation of Convening partners – this is where the allocation goes - the Partner churches send out the invoices and receive your monies. UCANZ subsequently negotiates a budget with the Partner churches for its own running costs. The levy and statistics work is contracted to the Anglican Waiapu Diocesan Office and is ably handled by Bianca Snee. Bianca can be contacted on [E-Mail not displayed]

    It looks like I’ve become a clearing hub for church advertisements 😊. St Pauls Presbyterian are looking for a new minister, and would be open to winkling one away from UCANZ. Advertisement is attached.

    Personal and Leadership resources

    Heard of FOFO (Fear of Finding Out)?

    This one was a ‘button pusher’ for me. It’s about why we (I) put off attending to things we (I) need to – eg (listed in the article) like my tax return!  I’m interested in the explanation in dealing with this, how thoughts and feelings are related. I’ve long been of the belief that there is no feeling without a prior thought. We do not have direct access to our feelings – we cannot make ourselves feel anything. A feeling, whether of dread or delight, will always follow a thought – no matter how fleeting that thought might appear to have been. It’s useful to explore this a little deeper.

    It can be read here.

    The Power of the Pause

    The author reflects on how Paul Simon (yes, the writer of such amazing songs as ‘The Boxer’, ‘Bridge over Troubled Waters’, ‘The Sound of Silence’ with such lyrics as “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls”) offers insight on the importance of allowing space for the ear to catch up with the song before the next set of lyrics. This is a powerful and effective communication tool. Not just in songs. In speaking. In preaching. It’s well worth a read. You can do so here.

    You’ll see that I’ve also attached a newsletter from John Thornley – Titled ‘Online Resources for a Progressive Christian journey’ – It is fairly self-explanatory, and contact details are there for those who wish to follow up with John and be included on his mailing list,

     

    Another Homily  

    This week it’s based on Matthew 14 vs 22-33 where Peter joins Jesus in walking on water. It can be experienced here. As I’ve stated previously – please be free to use these in any way you find useful.

     As always, if you find you’d prefer not to receive this weekly newsletter, please let me know and your address will be removed.

    Kind regards / Ngā Manaakitanga

     

    Andrew Doubleday
    Ministry Facilitator

  • Update week beginning 14 August 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau

    Starting my day

    My alarm goes off at 4.45am every morning. Often I’ve already been awake for 30 minutes, reading up on the news of the world (usually US politics) on my phone. While I don’t always answer the alarm’s call to rise immediately, most days I’m sitting in my tub chair in my study by 5.30am, having cleared away the dishes left drying the night before, made myself two cuppas, and made ready for what happens next. I’ll sit there for 45 minutes. I’ll spend time reading the daily reflection from E.Stanley Jones’ “In Christ”. I’ll usually quietly read the lectionary gospel that I’m ‘working’ on, and quietly sit with it, allowing/inviting God to speak to me through it. It doesn’t seem to matter that I’ll use the same reading a few days in a row. I’d be less than honest if I didn’t admit that this time is invariably filled with all sorts of distractions claiming my attention, as I find a sudden urgency to check on something on-line that has just come to mind. This time is usually followed by a period of Scripture reading as I systematically read through sections of the Bible. I then do something much more mundane – I walk the dog. As I do, I pray. Often, out loud (quietly) – doing it this way keeps me more focused, and as most of the walk is round the local domain, there is no-one to notice me. I have a set system of prayer that I have developed over the years – in offering myself to God, I seek ‘graces’ to allow me to function through the day ahead. I’m not a holy Joe. I’m not always an easy person to be with. So, for me, this is a matter first - of survival, and secondly - a pathway to a measure of blessing. Over the days, months, and years, the trajectory has been one that tells me that this remains the most important part of my day.

    Spiritual Disciplines

    As I write I’m aware that my monthly appointment with my Spiritual Director is later this morning. Kevin is a Catholic ‘lay’ person who is a national leader in the Ignatian stream of spiritual direction. I’ve been on this path for nearly 15 years. It has changed my life. I’ve recently read an article calling into question the value of the ‘Quiet Time’ that my evangelical upbringing told me was important. The article suggested that it was a waste of time and energy. I beg to differ. My encouragement is that we all take time to be with the one who is our life and light. We need to find times that work for us. For some it will be last thing at night, clearing away the detritus of the day. Some may argue that they don’t have the time. It is true that I have the privilege of a stipended existence, and not a 9-5 job. Yet, I would hope that I would always find ways to carve out some time each day to spend with Jesus. Mother Teresa was reputed to have spent 5 hours each day in prayer. I’m sure this included the numerous parts of formal worship she engaged in. When asked how she found time to get anything else done, she responded that it was by spending 5 hours each day in prayer. I get it. My concern is that many of us are too busy to give any time to the most life-giving relationship in our lives. And some of ‘many of us’ are involved in ‘ministry’. Even a small start, of giving some time each day to spend with the one ‘in whom all things hold together’ will ultimately pay rich dividends.

    Another Homily  

    This week it’s based on Matthew 15 vs 21-28 where Jesus steps outside the predominant cultural milieu of Israel by visiting Tyre and being confronted with a Canaanite woman who persists in seeking healing for her daughter. It can be experienced here. Once again – please be free to use these in any way you find useful.

    As always, if you find you’d prefer not to receive this weekly newsletter, please let me know and your address will be removed.

     

    Ngā manaakitanga

    Andrew Doubleday
    UCANZ Ministry Facilitator

     

  • Update week beginning 21 August 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau

    I’m now counting down the days and doing final pre-departure preparation for my trip around the Waikato and wider regions  – I fly into Auckland this coming Saturday and return home Sunday two weeks later. My first port of call will be in Whitianga. My last looks like it’ll be in Hamilton. I’m looking forward to it!

    Personal and Leadership resources

    100% Commitment is better that 98.

    This one could definitely be life-changing. I came across this concept a while back. It works. Benjamin Hardy is an organisational psychologist whom I occasionally follow, though I rarely apply. While he may be correct in much (or even all) of what he suggests, often his prescription involves a cost I’m not sure I want to pay.

    This one I’ve tried and know it works. I struggle with YouTube – keeping up with the news, especially American politics, is made too easy. So I resolved to give it up 100% (except for posting my own homilies) for six weeks. It worked absolutely fine for just over a week. Then I saw someone I followed, and thought I could reward myself, just this once. It kinda unravelled from there.

    I’ve re-read Hardy and am going to embrace a couple of his strategies, and give this another go. One of these is that Hardy is committed to the concept of a ‘future self’, and asks what you want it to look like. So in the moment of temptation one asks if this is consistent with reaching the goal of the ‘future self’ – is this something the ‘present self’ wants, rather than the ‘future self’? You get the picture.

    This one is well worth a look. I found an iteration of his thinking on this here.

    The Death of Evangelism: Five Issues We Must Address

    And now, from American evangelicalism – this from Thom Rainer who is a church consultant (not a concept we’re strong on in this country). This may be a wake up some of us need.

    Another Homily  

    This week it’s based on Matthew 16 vs 13-20 . I found this particularly personally challenging – I’m not sure this is adequately reflected in the homily. It deals with the question from Jesus “Who do YOU say that I am?”. I found that it invites the reciprocal question where we ask Jesus, “And who do YOU say I am?” It can be experienced here.

    As I’ve stated previously – please be free to use these in any way you find useful.

    As always, if you find you’d prefer not to receive this weekly newsletter, please let me know and your address will be removed.

    Ngā manaakitanga

    Andrew Doubleday
    UCANZ Ministry Facilitator

  • Update week beginning 28 August 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau

    I’m writing this from the beautiful Whitianga. Getting here is quite a drive. It was worth it. It’s Sunday afternoon and I spent the morning with the people of the local Co-operating Parish. When St Andrews was built it was described as an ‘Undenominational’ Church. I found the expression somewhat  discombobulating – which can be useful as it invites us to reflect on what we mean by the words we use. So whether ‘Un-‘, ‘Non-‘, ‘Omni-‘, or simply ‘Union’, or ‘Co-operating‘ they are a great bunch of people, and have been a joy to be with. I was asked why they are ‘Co-operating’, rather than Uniting, or a Union church. The simple answer, in my understanding is that there is an Anglican component. While there appears to be none now, and hasn’t been one for many years, apparently at one time there was. I’ve encountered a few others that appear anomalous in this respect.

    The tour has started in earnest. Off to a good beginning.

    Personal and Leadership resources

    My title for the first article is The Value of Being Disagreeable

    I’m of Dutch heritage - My mother being half Dutch (from the Southern part of the country) / half Freise (from the far north of the country) and my Father being biologically half Belgian, and half English. The Dutch are known for their ‘forthrightness’. Some would use other words to describe them. So this first article I found quite validating.

    It can be read here.

    The second article is What Separates Winning Leaders From Wannabe Leaders

    This is one all Church leaders need to take seriously. I suggest perhaps more importantly than anything else. Good leader value their people. ‘Our’ people are not there simply to make us look good, effective, or successful. They are our top priority. At some level they need to know that we’re willing to die in a ditch for them. While this is a ‘business’ article, the principles are highly transferable.

    It can be read here.

    Another Homily  

    This week it’s based on Matthew 16 vs 21-28. Jesus calls us to take up our cross - I’ve titled it ‘Investing our Lives’. This will give a clue as to what I think Jesus is inviting us into:

    It can be experienced here.

    As I’ve stated previously – please be free to use these in any way you find useful.

    As always, if you find you’d prefer not to receive this weekly newsletter, please let me know and your address will be removed.

    Ngā manaakitanga

    Andrew Doubleday
    UCANZ Ministry Facilitator

  • Update week beginning 4 September 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau

    This update is being written in a motel in Taupo. It’s an opportunity for me to catch up with myself after a busy and fruitful week. I’ve met amazing people, being royally hosted, and hopefully have left at least a little value in each place and with each people / group I have visited with. Thank you to all who have shared of yourselves so generously.

    Once again, the email list expands. If you find yourself receiving this and wish not to, please let me know.

    Last week’s newsletter included article links that did not work. My apologies. I abbreviate the links so that they don’t take up too much copy space. It seems that last week I cut a little too close to the bone. The up-side is that I had a solid number of you writing to me to tell me that the links didn’t work – which let me know that the articles are being read 😊

    So, here are the links again. This time with just enough to make contact.

    I titled the first article – The Value of Being Disagreeable. Hopefully you’ll be able to connect by clicking here.

    I titled the second article - What Separates Winning Leaders From Wannabe Leaders. Hopefully you’ll be able to connect by clicking here.

    This week’s Personal and Leadership resource

    Just one article - Lucky People Do at Least 3 Things Differently

    I know some people will struggle with the concept of ‘luck’. My invitation is to park your discomfort for just a little as you read the article. It may be that you can reframe it with a different word, like ‘successful’, or ‘blessed’.

    One of the strategies if you want something is simply to ask. Jesus is keen on the concept – “Ask and it shall be…..”. If we don’t ask (for whatever reason) the answer is always ‘no’.

    This article is well worth the read and can be accessed here.

     

    Season of Creation Resources.

    I loaded this update on top of an email sent to me by our UCANZ Chair, Rev Andrew Howley with A Roche resources that you’ll be able to access. Just keep scrolling down this email and they’re all there ↓

     

    Another Homily  

    This week it’s based on Matthew 18 vs 15-20. I’ve titled it ‘Accusation or Restoration’. Jesus reflects on how we deal with bad behaviour in our fellowships.

    It can be experienced here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRpalIei1dQ

    As I’ve stated previously – please be free to use these in any way you find useful.

    And, I repeat, as always, if you find you’d prefer not to receive this weekly newsletter, please let me know and your address will be removed.

    Ngā manaakitanga

    Andrew Doubleday
    UCANZ Ministry Facilitator

  • Update week beginning 11 September 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau

    Home again, home again, jiggety jig.

    After two weeks on the road I’m back behind my desk. It’s good to be home.  Thank you to all who offered accommodation – it was great to get to know you a little better. While there are advantages in staying in motels (own space, time to reflect etc), I look back over the past two weeks with deep gratitude. I know that I would have missed out on so much – the wonderful people I met and got to know just a little better. At the same time this located each place in a deeper context of the real live breathing human beings who inhabit it, for whom this is not a fleeting stop-off, but where life is done. Thank you to each and every one of you who not only gave me a bed for the night, but gave of yourselves and gave me a deeper understanding of what it is to live in each of your communities.

    Ian and Karen Harris were travelling overseas, when, mid-flight, Karen suffered a medical event which took her life. I can’t begin to imagine how shocking this has been for Ian and their family. As  a Methodist appointee, Ian has been an important part of our UCANZ Standing Committee for a number of years. Please hold Ian, their two sons Jeffery and David, and their families in your prayer. A celebration of Karen’s life will be held at 10:30am on September 15th at Tawa Union Church, 6 Elena Place, Tawa, Wellington. The service will be followed by light refreshments. If you are unable to attend the service, it will be live-streamed at https://vimeo.com/861475859/21e202b880.  It can be watched at a different time using the same link.

    Messages of condolence can be sent to: [E-Mail not displayed]

    I admit to being somewhat weary. While there’s a wee (yes, I’m from the south) way to go , I’m looking forward to a week in Golden Bay early next month.

    Coming up is the PCANZ General Assembly in Auckland. I’m both interested and curious to experience how the Presbyterian Church conduct its business – I’m suspect that it may be a universe away from how the Methodist Church does it.

    Personal and Leadership resource

    Leadership is fundamental to the success of any venture – be it a government, a business, a sports team, a church, a family. With failure, the first port of call is leadership. With the amount of national identity we have invested in the All Blacks we see this writ large at the moment as the World Cup unfolds. Will ‘Fozzie’ return home a hero or a villain? I wish him well – I want him to succeed, not because I care about rugby, but because he strikes me as a decent human being who I’d like to see remembered with affection, rather than opprobrium. If the team fails it will ultimately all be put on him.

    Rick Warren offers some insight on the importance of church leadership, on what’s required , and on what one can expect. Today, we have one article in two parts - 8 Ways to Motivate Your Team

    Part 1 

    Part 2

    Another Homily  

    It seems that this week’s homily failed to load yesterday – I have just reloaded it, and it is now available. This week it’s based on Matthew 18 vs 21-35. I’ve titled it ‘The Unforgiveable Sin’. Jesus offers what we know as the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.

    It can be experienced here.

    As I’ve stated repeatedly– please be free to use these in any way you find useful.

    And, I repeat, as always, if you find you’d prefer not to receive this weekly newsletter, please let me know and your address will be removed.

    Ngā manaakitanga

    Andrew Doubleday
    UCANZ Ministry Facilitator

  • Update week beginning 25 September 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau

    I’m tapping away in Auckland. The Presbyterian General Assembly starts tomorrow, and I’m curious to see how it rolls.

    I’ve been following Fr John O’Connor for a few years. Off and on – probably a bit like many of you receiving my emails. John is a Catholic priest in the Canterbury region. His reflections come under the banner Food for Faith. He is immersed in Ignatian spirituality. In the major seasons of the Church John puts out a series of daily reflections. Advent is coming up. I was struck by something he said in his latest post, which I strongly resonated with ‘People sometimes comment that it must be challenging for me to write a daily reflection over these weeks. My response is that if I am living with every sense heightened to the presence and the action of Jesus, really tuned in, then the reflections flow easily. If I’m sleepwalking through each day then preparing the daily reflections is not just difficult, it’s impossible.’

    I’m totally with him. I’m also aware of how easy ‘slippage’ is. And the warning is noticing how difficult it becomes to produce material that even a relatively short time earlier just flowed, just gushed out.

    If you’re wanting to dip into Fr John’s reflections, you can do so here.

    Personal and Leadership resources

    The two links I’m posting today may appear disparate, yet have a common theme. They’re basically about openness and listening. Many of us did the mandatory listening courses, yet it’s easy to forget how important it is, and how readily we (I) can slip back into unhelpful habits. And being a good listener means that we need to be open to what the other is saying – to learning, and maybe even changing our minds…

    The Habit You Can Adopt That Will Make You Smarter

    This article, by Jeff Haden, simply considers the willingness to be open to learning, to changing our minds – really a call to the exercise of curiosity. It can be read here.

    Leadership-Level Listening: The Quiet Superpower

    This article, by Damon Lembi, could be a refresher on the importance of listening – real listening, with some effective strategies to help us do it better. It can be read here.

    Guest Homily

    Once again, my Methodist colleague Rev. Dr Trevor Hoggard regularly posts lectionary-based homilies. You’ll notice that Trevor is much more attuned to the Lectionary than I am – he’s been at it a lot longer. Rather than just the gospel, Trevor often takes in other of the readings for the day. While we share a love for Jesus, our approaches are quite different and Trevor’s messages are more content rich. So here is his offering for this coming Sunday. Enjoy!

    Another Homily

    This week we find Jesus in the temple. It’s holy week. He has cleansed it and set up shop - to teach and to heal. Uninvited, unsanctioned, he hasn’t asked for permission. And the Temple authorities are not happy. I’ve titled it Protecting the Status Quo – it’s a reflection on Matthew 21 vs 23-32. It can be experienced here.

    As always, if you find you’d prefer not to receive this weekly newsletter, please let me know and your address will be removed.

    Ngā manaakitanga

    Andrew Doubleday
    UCANZ Ministry Facilitator

  • Update week beginning 2 October 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau

    Three of the past five weeks have been on the road. After returning from Presbyterian General Assembly I’m quietly chewing my way through a pile of emails (on my personal PC, around 500) – please accept that my responses may be even slower than usual. There are a few issues I wished to address - I’m running behind so they’ll have to keep. I will be on holiday next week – I’ll get done what I can before hand.

    Personal and Leadership resources

    1. Leading with Confidence - Body Language Tips for Leaders by Lolly Daskal

    This first article is a great reminder of the importance of our body language – and how it can either validate or undermine the words we speak. I remember last year watching a news clip of a natural disaster with significant human suffering, and the newsreader smiled all the way through. It was jarring. While I found this problematic, I’m aware that I also can appear less than consistent in what I say, and in what I Say (with the whole of me).

    Lolly’s last point is: Lead From Within: Your body language is a powerful tool of communication, it reveals your true thoughts and emotions, make sure it says what you want it to. Here is the heart of the issue. I’m unconvinced that one can ultimately fake the messages we communicate. As Jesus says, ‘it’s out of the overflow of the heart that the mouth speaks’. And, I’d suggest, more than through the mouth. It’s worth paying attention to what our own bodies are saying to us. Nevertheless, the article is a good reminder that we communicate far more than just by the words that come from between our lips. It can be read here.

    1. Visualising your Future Self

    This one is a bit out of left field, and probably won’t be for everybody (are any of them?) Ben Hardy is an organisational psychologist. I’ve heard him talk about his Christian faith, though you won’t pick it here. When he talks about ‘what you really want’, I frame this as seeking God’s best for me – who does God want me to be, to become? In what way has God gifted, called, empowered me? And what is God’s ongoing urgency in my life? Ben speaks at a million miles an hour so you may need to listen in chewable chunks. See what you think.

    1. On Selective Attention - But wait, there’s more. For the competitive among us, a bit of fun that highlights one of the issues that Ben talks about. I’ll be interested in your honest responses.

    Another Homily  

    This week I’ve titled my message Window or Mirror?. It’s an oblique consideration of the text of Matthew 21 vs 33-46, the Parable of the Tenants. It can be experienced here.

    As always, if you find you’d prefer not to receive this weekly newsletter, please let me know and your address will be removed.

    Ngā manaakitanga

    Andrew Doubleday
    UCANZ Ministry Facilitator

  • Update week beginning 9 October 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau

    I’m sitting with the beauty of Golden Bay behind me. The nights are cool, and in spite of forecasts to the contrary, the days are extraordinary.

    I’m reminded that we’re less than a week out from the conclusion to our triennial General Election, which may, yet again, be the start of a protracted process determining our next Government.

    The slogans of the bigger polling six parties differ according to whether one holds the treasury benches, or wants to claim them.  Labour are “In it for you”; for the Greens -  "The Time Is Now"; On the other hand, National promise to "Get our country back on track";  NZ First, a slightly more dystopian variation, "Let’s take our country back."; ACT have run a number - the official slogan “ACT for Real Change”; Te Pati Maori - “For an Aotearoa Hou”

    Each raise their own questions. As church, if we’re wanting to excite the imagination in getting people to sign on to our vision, what would ours be? As a local congregation what would our slogan be in 5 words or less? Would it describe who we are, or who we aspire to be, what we’re offering, or what we believe we should be offering?

    Were we to engage in a sloganeering exercise we may discover a huge disparity between the ideal and the reality. What might need to change? What small steps might we take to get us closer to our ideal?

    Personal and Leadership resources

    1. Setting and Achieving your Goals – by Jeff Haden

    His actual title is much longer – it’s about recognising how easy it is to fall short and how disempowering this is. So this scientific researched based article offers a strategy for success. It can be read here.

    In the above article there is a link to the ‘Seinfeld Method’. This is about a structured way of tracking progress. It doesn’t work (the link, not the method 😊). So here is a link that does.

    1. The Oatmeal Habit – How to Form Habits that Stick to your Ribs

    On a similar theme Ken Downer takes an intentionally holistic approach to reaching his goals, and discovers something about his friends, consistency, and integrity along the way. It can be read here.

    1. Finally, how many of you took the test on Selective Attention that I posted a link to last week?   I promised you it’ll be worth it. If you’ve not seen this before you could be in for a real surprise. I re-post it to give another opportunity.

    Another Homily  

    This week I’ve titled my message Just Say ‘Yes’. It’s a consideration of the Parable of the Wedding  Banquet as found in Matthew 22 vs 1-14. It can be experienced here.

    As always, if you find you’d prefer not to receive this weekly newsletter, please let me know and your address will be removed.

    Ngā manaakitanga

    Andrew Doubleday
    UCANZ Ministry Facilitator

  • Update week beginning 16 October 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau

    We’re back home from a week away – just Lynne and I, enjoying Paton’s Rock in Golden Bay at the top of the south. Book reading and walking the beach were the order of most days. Paton’s Rock has one of the most child friendly beaches in the country – the difference of available beach between high and low tide is about 100 metres – a very shallow beach. Not to be confused with Tata beach around the eastern side of Golden Bay where, I’d guess the difference in the amount of available beach to be about one metre – it’s very steep. Interesting how the same ‘bay’ can offer two very different experiences.

    Which segues into a comment I came across a couple of days ago about the nature of prayer:

    Towards the end of his life, C.S. Lewis married an American writer named Joy Davidman. Sadly, Joy contracted terminal bone cancer and passed away just four years later. At one point during this unfolding tragedy, a friend of C.S. Lewis said to him: “I know how hard you’ve been praying. Hopefully, God is answering your prayers.”

    Lewis replied, “That’s not why I pray. I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. Prayer doesn’t change God; it changes me.”

    I’m with Lewis – I pray. I pray out of need. I’m reminded of Abraham Lincoln who is reported to have said “I’ve been driven to my knees time and again by the overwhelming conviction I had nowhere else to go.” And, from time to time, I also pray out of gratitude. And I consistently pray seeking grace. I recognise that a large part of prayer is change that the Lord is working in my own heart. Yet, I continue to pray about situations and for others. We have both aspects combined where Matthew 9 ends with Jesus encouraging his disciples to pray to the ‘Lord of the Harvest’ to send out workers into the harvest field. Chapter 10 opens with the disciples being the ones who go out into that field. They have become the answer to their own prayers.

    Personal and Leadership resources

    1.     Finding Love: An Appreciative Inquiry into Christian Talk about Sin and Salvation – by Andrew Callander

    Rev. Dr Andrew Callander was the keynote speaker at the recent Presbyterian General Assembly in Auckland. I bought a copy of his book, and finished reading it at the beginning of my week away.

    For me it was a real page turner. I found in this book my own journey being mirrored by another Andrew, of a similar age, of a different background, yet coming to very similar conclusions – all born out of a deep love for Scripture and the God behind it all.

    For some, this book may be a shocker – too ‘liberal’. And for others, a disappointment – too ‘evangelical’. For me, perfect. It recognises something of the journey God has us all on - growing in understanding, in maturity, and a deepening awareness of the love God has for us. It also reflects something of one of my heroes of the faith - E.Stanley Jones, a missionary to India for 50+ years who is clear that it’s in Christ we see the clearest picture of what God is like. Our God is a Christ-like God.

    At about 130 pages, Andrew’s is not a big book –– yet (in my experience) well worth the price. If you’d like a copy it comes in two iterations – soft cover at $35, and hardcover at $55. Plus $7 postage and packaging.

    It can be bought directly from Andrew at [E-Mail not displayed], or ordered through Wipf & Stock, Amazon, Ingram, or Kindle.

    2.     The 8 Most Common Ways People Make Themselves Miserable

    Jessica Stillman offers some strategies on how to make ourselves less miserable.  The basic premise is that ‘For greater well-being, subtract misery’. She summarises an Atlantic article by Harvard happiness researcher  Arthur Brooks (who knew there was such a thing?), who looked for clues to the writings of Nobel Laureate Bertrand Russell. Brooks full article can be accessed here, while Stillman’s summary can be found here.

    Guest Homily – Rev Dr Trevor Hoggard

    Trevor’s thoughtful lectionary based sermon asks us to consider the glasses we are wearing – recognising we’re all wear them whether we’re aware of it or not. We’ll all likely recognise ourselves somewhere in there – it can be experienced here.

    Another Homily  

    This week I’ve titled my message ‘Frenemies’. It’s a consideration of the question posed by the Pharisees and Herodian on paying taxes to Caesar as found in Matthew 22 vs 15-22. As the issue  was so raw last week, I also made some comment about the Hamas/Israeli conflict. It can be experienced here.

    As always, if you find you’d prefer not to receive this weekly newsletter, please let me know and your address will be removed.

    Ngā manaakitanga

    Andrew Doubleday
    UCANZ Ministry Facilitator

  • Update week beginning 23 October 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau

    As I prepare for each Sunday, I find myself in my ‘happy place’. There’s nothing I’d rather be doing. In the ‘resources’ below, I’ve put up a link to an article about multi-tasking. As I’ve reflected on it, I become aware of the contentment that ‘sermon’ preparation and delivery gives me. While it’s always a challenge, and I’m always aware of my need of grace before the moment of delivery, yet there is an almost addictive buzz involved in the whole process.  This Sunday past I had the joy of preaching at Darfield – under the generous and joyful leadership of Rev. Aunty Lynmaree Sopoaga. Even offering a message that I’ve given numerous times is still a source of joy. Thank you Aunty Lyn!

    Presbyterian Regional appointment

    Kerry Enright is leading the process for the appointment of a replacement Executive Officer for the Southern Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church. Please refer to the attached advertisement.

    Music Resources

    Andrew Howley commends a free and effective worship resource. Well worth a look! Can be explored here.

    Personal and Leadership resources

    1. Turn the Ship Around – Captain David Marquet

    David Marquet was an American Nuclear Submarine captain. The navy had given him a year to study his next command – the USS Olympia. He was required to know the ship – it’s manuals, operating procedures, it’s equipment and pipework – all its systems. As captain he needed to be the font of all knowledge. Two weeks before taking up this post he was switched to the USS Santa Fe – a much newer submarine - its captain had just quit. This submarine was regarded as a joke – lowest morale, highest crew turnover – if anything could go wrong…., you get the picture. It was due for an inspection in two weeks, and for deployment in six months. This forced Marquet into becoming an entirely different kind of leader. There are numerous Marquet clips on YouTube – I’ve selected this one to whet the appetite of any who may be interested.

    2. What happened when I tried to avoid multitasking for a week - Stephanie VozzaWhoa, this touched the spot for me. The author’s description of her awareness of what was happening within her, and what happened when she stopped multi-tasking has been a wake-up call. While I’ve posted on this issue before, there are many topics that can do with airing repeatedly. This article can be read here.

    More Homilies  

    This week I’ve produced two. The gospel lectionary deals with two distinct concepts, so rather than choosing one over the other, I dealt with each separately.

    Pt 1 is titled ‘God’s Favourites’ and is rooted in Matthew 22: 33-40 where the religious leaders ask the question ‘Which is the greatest commandment?’ It can be experienced here.

    Pt 2 is titled ‘Who is this Messiah?’ Seeking to explore Jesus question in Matthew 22:41-46 where Jesus forces the religious leaders to consider their concept of the Messiah. It can be experienced here.  

    As always, if you find you’d prefer not to receive this weekly newsletter, please let me know and your address will be removed.

    Ngā manaakitanga

    Andrew Doubleday
    UCANZ Ministry Facilitator

  • Update week beginning 30 October 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau

    Another week has passed. Where are they all going? Before we know it Christmas will be upon us.

    Personal and Leadership resources

    1. Dispelling Four Common (and Unhelpful) Myths about Neighbourhood Churches

    Sam Rainer is an American Church Consultant (we’re not strong on such roles in this country). While this article addresses the North American context it is very transferrable to here. Since most of our CVs (Cooperating Ventures) are small, this article could usefully be used as a framework for many of our congregations to explore how we see ourselves and reframing the challenges we face and opportunities that are ours. To quote one nugget:

    Successful neighbourhood churches embrace a philosophy of being strategically small rather than intentionally small. Strategic smallness seeks to leverage the strengths of a smaller size for greater ministry effectiveness, whereas churches that intentionally stay small betray a dangerous inward mentality. Small size doesn’t have to mean small influence. The influence of a neighbourhood church will just look different from that of a larger, regional church.

    With the growth of locally ordained ministries (see Myth 4) – particularly in the Presbyterian and Anglican Churches, we are potentially ideally placed for meeting the needs of the day.

    The article can be read here.

    1. What’s the Best Sign of Success, Emotional Intelligence or IQ? - Turns Out, It’s Something Else

    As followers of the way of Jesus this one shouldn’t surprise us. Of course, the answer to the question is neither of the above. The article can be read here.

    1. Years Ago, Steve Jobs Said There’s 1 Simple Choice That Separates Leaders From Bosses

    Another article from Marcel Schwantes. This one is excellent. To quote him – ‘It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.’

    Of course we need to be okay with not being the smartest person in the room, and recognising that others are gifted in ways we are not, and in ways we need. After all that’s a characteristic of the body of Christ. We need to be willing to get out of the way and allowing others to shine. The article can be read here.

    But wait, there’s more

    For those who might be willing to be challenged to think more broadly on theological issues, here’s a Canadian I follow with a  wise and generous response to a contemporary issue:

    Rev Ed Trevors – Teacher fired over pregnancy.

    More Homilies

    Re. Dr Trevor Hoggard’s offering for this coming Sunday can be found here.

    And my response to the Gospel lectionary – Matthew 23 vs 1-12, - Jesus warning about the practises and motivations of the religious leaders. It can be experienced here.

    As always, if you find you’d prefer not to receive this weekly newsletter, please let me know and your address will be removed.

    Ngā manaakitanga

    Andrew Doubleday
    UCANZ Ministry Facilitator 

  • Update week beginning 6 November 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau

    The preliminaries for the Methodist Annual Conference start today. As the intermediate year in a biennial cycle, this one will be on-line. The Conference proper starts tomorrow. Last year, at this point in the proceedings, I was still president of MCNZ. Twelve months later and I feel more like an outsider – like I no longer really belong – existing on the fringes. It’s a singularly peculiar experience. One I never anticipated. I expect that as the next five days unfold it will pass. Or not 😕.

    Rev Denis Povey died on the 26th of October. After a 1972 Parish appointment to the Alexandra-Clyde Union Parish, Dennis was appointed in 1979 Secretary of the Joint Commission on Church Union – a previous iteration of UCANZ, a post he held until returning to Presbyterian Parish ministry in 1998. It seems those were the halcyon days of the ecumenical experiment. While we cannot go back, we can seek to recapture something of the spirit of that which helped us recognise that what we shared in common was greater that what differentiates us. We are grateful for Dennis’s ministry among us. A memorial service will be held at St. Ninian’s Uniting Church, Karori, Wellington, at 11am on Friday 10 November.

    Personal and Leadership resources

    1. 6 Ways Leaders Need to Show Discipline

    Rick Warren almost invariably posts relevant, and at time hard hitting, insights on the nature and challenges of leadership. This is another one worth noting – The opening line on his first area of concern starts with the words – ‘Most great things in the world are achieved by those who don’t feel like doing them’. Ouch!  The full article can be read here.

    1. The One Thing that Solves Most Church Problems (Only 1% of Churches Actually Do This)

    This one will be of no surprise. Yet it is a wake-up call to the church. Sam Rainer, and American Church consultant (I posted another article of his last week) has some sobering insight to offer. While it reflects the American scene, given the religious nature of a significant portion of American society we can only expect our situation to be worse. The article can be read here.

    More Homilies

    Re. Dr Trevor Hoggard’s lectionary based offering for this coming Sunday can be found here.

    And my response to the Gospel lectionary – Matthew 25 vs 1-13 – This concerns the parable of the 10 bridesmaids – five wise, and five foolish. I struggled with this one (actually I struggle with most texts – some more than others) this one can be experienced here.

    As always, if you find you’d prefer not to receive this weekly newsletter, please let me know and your address will be removed.

    Ngā manaakitanga

    Andrew Doubleday
    UCANZ Ministry Facilitator

  • Update week beginning 13 November 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau

    Methodist Conference (on-line) has come, and gone. The differences between PCANZ General Assembly and MCNZ on-line Conference are stark. Discretion (not something I’ve been overly known for) tells me that I’m better to stop there 😊

    One of the outcomes of this past week was a statement on the Gaza conflict. I’ve appended the statement at the end of this message.

    Personal and Leadership resources

    1.     People Who Are Good at Dealing With Conflict Always Ask This 1 Question

    Many years ago I had a couple come to see me to start the process of setting up their wedding. They sat there in my study looking decidedly uncomfortable. Without addressing whatever it was head on, I could not get them to relax. Warmth, humour – nothing worked. So I looked straight at them and asked “What question is it that you’re most afraid I’m going to ask you?” The glanced at one another, then she volunteered “About us living together”. My response? “I’m glad we’ve got that out of the way.” They instantly relaxed and smiled. Ka pai! We were now able to move forward.

    Minda Zetlin posts an insightful (and helpful) article offering a similar strategy – maybe not as ‘in-your-face’ as my strategy in that moment, yet addressing the elephant in the room with clarity and kindness. It can be read here.

    2.     A Rare Leadership Habit - Patience

    As one who is often simply wanting to get things ‘off my plate’ as quickly as possible, I found this article both chastening and helpful. Marcel Schwantes discusses the importance of patience, a much undervalued habit and practice in a very instant, and ‘I want it now’ world. He references Navy Seals, and their processes for planning and executing missions, in a careful and unhurried way. There is a catch-phrase which I was taken with “Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.” The article can be read here.

    More Homilies

    Dr Trevor Hoggard’s lectionary based offering for this coming Sunday can be found here.

    And my response to the Gospel lectionary – Matthew 25 vs 14-30 – This concerns the Parable of the Talents, and I’ve titled it ‘Your weight in Gold’ It can be experienced here.

    As always, if you find you’d prefer not to receive this weekly newsletter, please let me know and your address will be removed.

     

    Ngā manaakitanga

    Andrew Doubleday
    UCANZ Ministry Facilitator

     

    Appendix:

    The Methodist Church of New Zealand Te Hāhi Weteriana o Aotearoa

    A First step towards Reconciliation and Peace

    “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly” Martin Luther King Jr.

    We, the members of the Conference of the Methodist Church of New Zealand-Te Hāhi Weteriana o Aotearoa, call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the release of hostages as a first step towards reconciliation and peace.

    We are outraged at the ongoing bloodshed and violence in Gaza and other parts of Palestine perpetuated by the Israeli government and military. We are also outraged by the death and suffering of innocent people in Israel, caused by the terrorist organisation, Hamas. We express our deep solidarity with all who mourn and suffer, and we pray for healing and restoration.

    We condemn the bombing of homes, public spaces, and sacred sites, killing thousands of innocent civilians, particularly children and women. We are equally concerned about the destructive impact of the occupation and violence on God’s creation—the land, the water bodies, and the atmosphere.

    We contest the narrative that the conflict in the Holy Land is a war between two religious communities. We categorically state that the conflict is the consequence of settler colonialism and the illegal occupation of Palestinian land by the Israeli state, defying international laws and UN resolutions. A just peace in the Holy Land will not be possible without a non-violent transition from settler colonialism to self-determination (tino rangatiratanga) for the Palestinians.

    We urge the international communities to create corridors for humanitarian interventions, such interventions must be based on human rights and human dignity. We reject antisemitism and Islamophobia in all its forms and call on Churches and the wider community to build bridges of reconciliation and peace. We commit ourselves to strive together to tear down all walls that colonise people and the planet.

    President – Perēhitini Rev Peter Taylor PO Box 931 Ōtautahi / Christchurch 8140
    M: (021) 794 524 E: [E-Mail not displayed]

    Vice President – Perēhitini Tuarua TeRito Peyroux-Semu PO Box 931 Ōtautahi / Christchurch 8140
    M: (021) 794 530 E: [E-Mail not displayed]

    General Secretary – Hekeretari Matua Rev Tara Tautari PO Box 931 Ōtautahi / Christchurch 8140
    T: (03) 366 6049, ext 824 M: (021) 062 0466 E: [E-Mail not displayed]

  • Update Week beginning 20 November 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau

    Last week I attended a presentation of the results of the National Church Life Survey, sponsored by the Wilberforce Foundation.

    I’ve included two links – the first is ‘Exploring the Spiritual Landscape in Aotearoa New Zealand’ – a more general look at a survey of attitudes toward religion and spirituality across the breadth of our nation. Its summary can be accessed here.

    The second link is to a summary of the Church Life Survey itself. Early on in the report we discover that Uniting Congregations bias toward the oldest demographic of those denominational groups surveyed. Without directly referencing UCANZ (the group embodying these Uniting Congregations) it was clear that this was seen as a problem by those present. If asked, I imagine that most, if not all, would affirm that the days of CVs must be numbered, and will be the first to disappear. The emphasis expressing confidence for growth was clearly biased toward those which the greatest preponderance of the young. I do not share this pessimism. By conviction and experience I’m convinced that congregations of older people can thrive. Even if they never have young people. The solid reality is that we are always growing older people. I’m becoming one of them. And the need for ministry does not diminish – we become more aware that we are facing one of life’s greatest challenges – the end of it! All other things being equal, our time is short and we need to be prepared for what comes next. Ministry with the aged is a Cinderella area within the life of the church – underrated and undervalued. Yet it should be regarded as having a sense of urgency and priority. Ministry with older people presents both a challenge and a rich opportunity – if only we can see and grasp it. Over the years ministry with older people has become my main area of both passion and concern.

    The Summary of the Church Life Survey can be accessed here.

    More Homilies

    Dr Trevor Hoggard’s lectionary-based offering for this coming Sunday can be found here.

    And my response to the Gospel lectionary – Matthew 25 vs 31-46 – is set as Jesus’ picture of the great white throne where he separates the sheep from the goats. It can be experienced here.

    As always, if you find you’d prefer not to receive this weekly newsletter, please let me know and your address will be removed.

    Ngā manaakitanga

    Andrew Doubleday
    UCANZ Ministry Facilitator

  • Update week beginning 27 November 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau

    We’re in the season of Advent – and already hearing Christmas carols, and others that masquerade as carols, and seeing tinsel and other decorations going up in the malls.  Where did the year go?

    Personal and Leadership Resources

    The Most Important Trait in a Leader is Not What You Think

    ‘Curiosity’ is put at the top of this author’s list. For many of us, it wouldn’t even get on the list at all. As church leaders ‘curiosity’ can sound more like threat than a positive attribute. After all, we’re supposed to be the font of all wisdom, aren’t we? To always be right?

    And, what if we’re wrong? Not just on strategic issues, but also on things that we believe to be fundamentally true – our core beliefs - defining not just what we hold in our heads, but who we are?

    I wonder how much fear of being wrong on the existential issues shuts down our curiosity about everything else? This article deals with none of these issues - it’s simply about the importance of curiosity for leaders. It just got me thinking. It can be read here.

    3 Top Lessons on Gratitude

    Jessica Stillman boils down 15 articles she’s written on gratitude down to three main points. It’s well worth both reading and taking seriously. It can be read here.

    Homilies

    We mark the beginning of advent

    Dr Trevor Hoggard’s lectionary-based offering for this coming Sunday can be found here.

    And my response to the Gospel lectionary – Mark 13 vs 24-37 concerns the return of Christ.  It can be experienced here.

    As always, if you find you’d prefer not to receive this weekly newsletter, please let me know and your address will be removed.

    Ngā manaakitanga

    Andrew Doubleday
    UCANZ Ministry Facilitator

  • Update week beginning 4 December 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau

    After some months of weekly preaching I’ve finally got some more space and am looking to what happens as we move into 2024. The Standing Committee is planning to gather in Auckland 23rd and 24th of January for two days of being together to discern the way of God for us. Please keep us in your prayer.

    Personal and Leadership Resources

    Strength in Leadership: How Gentleness Changes Everything

    Rick Warren pleads for gentleness as a primary virtue in our leadership. Worth a read, it can be found here.

     

    The Power of the Doodle

    Get stuck? Writer’s Block? Don’t know what to do next? Of course, as followers of Jesus, we pray.

    And we can also doodle. Marcel Schwantes draws from the science suggesting that not only is doodling good for our mental health and emotional well-being, it also opens the creative pathways in our minds enabling us to focus and find solutions to problems that may have been eluding us.

    Homilies

    This week Dr Trevor Hoggard has some commentary on the future of the Methodist Church, recognising that 70% of its English Speaking congregations are to be found in Cooperative Ventures. His lectionary-based offering for this coming Sunday can be found here.

    And my response to the Gospel lectionary – Mark 1:1-8 I’ve titled ‘And so it begins’. It concerns the ministry of John the Baptiser – one who would likely have concluded that his life and ministry ultimately failed. Yet he laid the ground for what was to follow, that which he did not live to see.  It can be experienced here.

    As always, if you find you’d prefer not to receive this weekly newsletter, please let me know and your address will be removed.

    Ngā manaakitanga

    Andrew Doubleday
    UCANZ Ministry Facilitator

  • Update week beginning 11 December 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau

    The year is fast drawing to a close.

    I’ve been reflecting on the aging process. My own.

    Apparently, the vast majority of us imagine we will live significantly longer than we actually do.

    My concern is that, as I’m not far from entering my 70th year, HOW will I live? Tying my shoe-laces is more difficult than it was 2 years ago (there is more of me now than then). There are aches and pains that seem more likely to increase rather than decrease. While the face in the mirror doesn’t seem to have changed that much over the past decade, biology will call a lie to my fantasy that I’ll continue for many years ahead much as I always have. How long have I got? I don’t know. What I do know is that the clock is ticking, and that if I’m to squeeze the most juice out of what life remains, I probably need to be more intentional about my day to day – including what I eat, how I exercise, the relationships I foster, how I spend my time. Does this sound like looming New Year’s resolutions? Probably. All to crash and burn in the first couple of weeks in January.

    Yet, if I don’t make the attempt I will surely fail. One of the insights from a Gestalt therapy/training group I was in a couple of decades ago was ‘Don’t try. If you try, you will likely fail. For example - try standing up from sitting in your chair - trying is difficult. Just do.’

    Personal and Leadership Resources

    3 Simple Habits (Eat, Sleep, and Exercise) Separate Exceptionally Productive People From Everyone Else

    If you don’t recognise yourself in some of the behaviours Bill Murphy describes, then you’re probably already exceptional. His article can be read here.

    Morgan Housel explains why we should focus on the things that never change.

    This longish article is worth it, if just for this following paragraph”

    Jeff Bezos had this great interview quote many years ago where he said, “People always ask me what is going to change in the future. I submit that a better question is, what is not going to change?” His example, when he thought about Amazon, was that you cannot imagine a future in which Amazon customers do not want low prices, fast shipping, and a big selection. Because of that, he could afford to put all of his effort and confidence into investing in those things, knowing that they would be just as relevant 10 years from now as they are today. 

    What a great question!! What is not going to change? Basic human needs for value, meaning, forgiveness – for love. These will not change. As we look into 2024, perhaps focussing on what we can be sure of, rather than the myriad possibilities, may be a more productive way forward.

    Should you still want to, the full article can be read here.

    Homilies

    This week Dr Trevor Hoggard has a short 9 point Christmas message.  His offering for this coming Sunday can be found here.

    And my response to the Gospel lectionary – John 1 vs 6-8,19-28 I’ve titled ‘Defined by who we’re not’. It concerns the ministry of John the Baptiser. John is very clear about what he is not, about what he is not called to. This gives him the grace of being able to be clear and focused on his mission – on who he is and the task allotted to him. It can be experienced here.

    As always, if you find you’d prefer not to receive this weekly newsletter, please let me know and your address will be removed.

    Ngā manaakitanga

    Andrew Doubleday
    UCANZ Ministry Facilitator

  • Update week beginning 18 December 2023

    Kia ora e te whanau

    This is my last newsletter for 2023. I’m having a two week break. Expect to be hearing from me again on the 9th of January 2024.

    Thank you for your encouragement and support during the year – my first in a new role, which will continue to evolve as we move into 2024.

    Some reflections on Advent

    I’ve long thought that our anthropocentric view of life, the world, of God, and God’s purposes, may mislead many of us as we tend to prioritise Easter and the atoning work of Christ over Christmas and a celebration of the incarnation.

    For Evangelicals (my tribe) we mostly fail to recognise the significance of the Feast of the Annunciation at all. Many of us don’t even know that there is such a thing. This is the point in the narrative when Mary is informed of her pregnancy – presumably also the point at which the Holy Spirit makes it so.

    Why is this important? Because from this point on there is no going back. For God.

    It’s at this point that God makes a total commitment to the redemption of not only the human race, but to the whole of creation.

    At this point, in the words of that wonderful Anglican, Charles Wesley, we have ‘God contracted to a span, incomprehensibly made man’. Contracted to a span indeed – to a single cell. God’s commitment to the womb of Mary, the risks of gestation, childbirth, and growing up - all start here.

    While we tend to see the Easter story as the ultimate symbol of God’s commitment to us, my quiet conviction is that from God’s point of view it is here, at the annunciation, that the commitment is irrevocably made. From here the die is cast. Everything else simply and inexorably follows.

    Interestingly, this Feast of the Annunciation happens around Easter. Which makes sense – count back nine months from Christmas and we end up at Easter. The first time I recognised its significance, this feast day fell on Good Friday. How poetically rich! That God’s commitment in both the Incarnation, and the Crucifixion should fall on the same day!

    So, here we are. As we face Christmas, let us be reminded again of its significance – the ultimate symbol of God’s commitment of love.

    Personal and Leadership Resources

    I had some resources to share. I’ve thought better of it. They’ll keep.

    You’re busy enough as it is, I’ve said enough as it is. The New Year will be fine.

    Homilies

    This week Dr Trevor Hoggard has two offerings.  His first one for this coming Sunday (Christmas Eve) can be found here.

    Trevor also gives a provocative Christmas Day message. It’s short, and well worth a watch - I’m still smiling as I remember his opening. It can be experienced here.

    And my response to one of the Christmas Gospel lectionary readings – Luke 2:1-20. It fits either the coming Sunday or Monday. I’ve also included a link in the commentary to a song sung by Amy Grant – it’s worth following the link and listening to.  It can all be experienced from here.

    But wait, there’s more

    As I’m having a two week break, I’ve also posted two more homilies.

    1. For Sunday 31 December 2023. It’s titled – ‘Notice God at Work’ – and is based on the Gospel Lectionary  Luke 2 vs 22-40 – this refers to the purification rites at the temple and the ‘Holy Family’ meeting Simeon and Anna.  It can be experienced here.
    2. For Sunday 7 January 2024. It’s titled  ‘Another New Beginning’ - and is based on the Gospel Lectionary Mark 1 vs 4-11 – this refers to Jesus appearing on the scene with his baptism by John. It can be experienced here.

    As always, if you find you’d prefer not to receive this weekly newsletter, please let me know and your address will be removed.

    Finally, have a wonderful Christmas – may the Christ of Christmas meet you, bless you, affirm God’s commitment of love to you and yours.

    And, be safe, face the New Year with confidence and strength, knowing that you are never alone for, as John Wesley remarked, “Best of all, God is with us!”

    Ngā manaakitanga

    Andrew Doubleday
    UCANZ Ministry Facilitator

 

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