loren Eric Swanson: New Zealand--the final days

Monday, October 31, 2005

New Zealand--the final days

Friday, October 28, Auckland
Flew from Wellington to Auckland at 11:00am. Sam went with Howard for lunch and afterwards to meet with the pastor of Greenlane Christian Center and I went with Roger Osbaldiston, the National Director of Crusade for NZ. I have know Roger for several years now and have always been impressed with his keen mind, enthusiasm and leadership style. Roger pulled together several staff from the various Crusade ministries—FamilyLife, Student Life AIA and we spent the afternoon talking about the concepts of “movements everywhere so that everyone knows someone who truly follows Jesus.”

Saturday, October 29, Auckland
Saturday morning we met for a day-long seminar on The Externally Focused Church at Greenlane Christian Center . Andrew Cox and Howard Webb did a good job in getting the word out and roughly 200 folks showed up, and from the hands raised, when the question was asked, the far majority were pastors and Christian leaders. I gave the first talk on “What Kind of Day is Today?” during which participants wrote on a large scroll of butcher paper events that shaped our world and the church in the past ten years and also what the next ten years look like. The point of this article is taken from a quote I like from Mission After Christendom—“Every day the church must wake up and ask itself, ‘What kind of day is today,’ for no two days are alike in her history.” It was the men of Issachar who “understood the times” and so knew what to do. Jesus rebuked the crowds for knowing how to interpret weather indicators but could not interpret the times. So it seems that a key skill all leaders need is an ability to understand…or even exegete…the times we live in, if we want to be effective. This presentation concluded with a cursory overview about the kingdom of God.

Sam took the second talk on our Externally Focused Church talk…and he was also able to squeeze in his “Grace and Truth” talk that he gave in both Christchurch and Wellington in the evening sessions. After lunch we both led elective seminars—Sam’s was on Kingdom Assignments and I talked about Evangelism and the Externally Focused Church. After the electives I spoke on “Volunteers” utilizing a film clip from The
Fighting Temptations with Cuba Gooding and Sam brought us home with a Getting Started talk.

Like the other places we have been, pastors and leader expressed that this was what they were thinking and had started to go of wanted to go in this direction. Pastor Bruce Patrick from the Baptist Tabernacle in Auckland (http://www.tabernacle.org.nz/) –one of New Zealand’s oldest and most prestigious churches (founded by Spurgeon’s son in the 1860s) was particularly enthusiastic and represented the enthusiasm of the crowd who stayed until we finished at 5pm. Ministry is pretty easy when the wind is at your back.

Sunday, October 30, Auckland
In the paper this morning, on the front page were two stories that begged the involvement of the church in New Zealand. The first was about Bloods and Crips (Tongans and Samoan gangs) in Auckland’s Flatbush area and an article on Children’s Day that included all the stats of kids at risk. Good information, as with Nehemiah 1 can be very motivational. We hung out with Howard Webb on Sunday, doing a bit of sight seeing at Mission Bay and One Tree Hill before meeting for dinner with the Cox and Web families at a restaurant called Tony’s where most of us had racks of lamb….Now that was good. We’re grateful for this opportunity to be connected to what God is doing here down under.

Concluding thoughts
In Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland we were able to connect with around 500 folks…mostly leaders whom God is wooing to be more externally focused. New Zealand is really well positioned to be a laboratory for the world. They have a critical mass of committed, externally focused believers and have a good multi-cultured mix in their cities. They face all the pressures of our changing world. Howard (who reminds us a lot of Higgins from Magnum PI--He speaks with a lovely South African accent and seems to know a bit about everything in New Zealand) and Andrew are the right leaders for this movement. They would like us to come back at a future time for phase II. We also need to keep them in mind if we launch a second global learning community.

Quote of the trip: "I've cleared my shedule for the next 20 years so I can devote my life to churches relationally connecting to their communities. Now I shall make enquiries as to the whereabouts of a Ponsonby pie." Higgins

Thanks for the good times boys. Good on ya.


At Tuesday, November 01, 2005 1:14:00 PM, Blogger Yohan said...

Thanks Eric and Sam for comin down to New Zealand! Eric also thanks for spending some personal time with me and sharing openly about your life experience. Yohan, Student Life staff

At Wednesday, November 02, 2005 3:30:00 PM, Blogger eddie said...

I'll second that thanks. I was at the Aucklnad meeting and the message your team brought was great.


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