loren Eric Swanson: A Day in Wellington

Thursday, October 27, 2005

A Day in Wellington

This morning I took a walk around beautiful Christchurch along a river that meanders through the city. Just a beautiful walk that took me into the heart of Christchurch. We caught a 10:30am flight from Christchurch to Wellington…the capital city of New Zealand. We stopped in for fish and chips (NZ has the very best fish and chips) on the way to The Street City Church (http://www.thestreet.org.nz/)-- a great, happening church in this city of 200K. Pastor Nick Field is doing a great job in a city center church. In the afternoon Sam and I spoke to the staff and key leaders of The Street about the Externally Focused Church for a two or three hours hours and after a short break and after checking into our hotel, came back for a "public meeting" at the church where we spoke for another couple of hours interspersing our presentation with clips from Sister Act and Chariots of fire. The response is not unlike what we experienced in Beijing and Berlin. God is working to move the church into the community and we get to watch him work. One woman came up to me and said, “This is just what we’ve been talking about for the past year so your timing is perfect.”

The young man that coordinated the media for us sent me the following link about a church in New Zealand that is becoming more missional as opposed to attractional by moving their Sunday Service to Friday nights so they could invite the community to watch New Zealand Rugby’s All Blacks Grand Slam Tour on a big screen on Sunday mornings.

This evening the media guy sent me the following story of one church that was doing things differently to reach people. It's pretty interesting.

Church services sidestep so congregation can watch rugby
Rugby is arguably one of our most popular religions and it seems at least one Tauranga church agrees.
Greerton Bible Church is scrapping its Sunday church services in favour of supporting the men in black - with the congregation due to watch the All Blacks Grand Slam Tour on a big screen instead.
The Chadwick Rd church's senior Pastor Russell Embling said the event, dubbed the Big Screen Grand Slam Tour, would replace its regular weekly service each Sunday throughout November.
"A lot of people are going to watch the All Black games on Sunday morning, so we figured if we can't beat 'em, join 'em.
"Rugby and the All Blacks are a big part of Kiwi culture, there's no denying that."
Churchgoers will instead have the option to attend a Friday night service at 7pm during November.
The Grand Slam - in which the All Blacks go head-to-head with Wales, Ireland, England and Scotland - was last attempted in 1983.
The last All Black team to beat all four sides was Graham Mourie's 1978 team.
And while the four-test tour of Britain and Ireland was a rare event for New Zealand, Mr Embling admitted cancelling a service was pretty much unheard of among churches.
"We have never done anything like this before in terms of shifting our Sunday service to make way for anything - let alone the rugby."
Despite going against the norm, it seems the 250 strong Christian congregation are fully behind Mr Embling's decision.
"Everyone is really looking forward to it and can't wait - I have had a really good response.
"It's bound to be great fun for all those who decide to come along and watch the games."
While the aim of the event was to enjoy the game as it's played out on a 4m x 5m television screen, Mr Embling has also organised some well-known rugby identities to pop in.
At 7am each Sunday, starting with the test against Wales on November 6, the congregation would also be treated to a visit from Chiefs coach Ian Foster, former-All Black Eroni Clarke and Bay of Plenty Steamers players Grant McQuoid and Hayden Reid.
All sportsmen were renowned for their passion for both rugby and faith.
"They will provide a bit of post-match analysis and they will then talk about how their faith relates to rugby or rugby career to their faith."
It's not all about rugby, though, with hundreds of the church's parishioners being treated to a fully catered breakfast, children's entertainment and spot prizes.
There will even be some half-time entertainment, he said.
Tickets for each week's event were free and were available from the Greerton Bible Church office throughout the week


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