Roanne McEwen

Church Leader, Whitiora Bible Church, Hamilton

We were in a desperate place, people leaving, old hurts nagging, some disgruntled or discouraged… Where should the mending start?  

The elders knew the outreach focus had been lost and people’s focus needed to change. Hence the decision to go through the Redemptive Family series.  

With 5 weeks of related devotions, 6 sermons, and a special prayer service leading up to it, the RF workshop really was the highlight and turning point in our church life. 

It brought us together as we discussed and found heaps in the congregation were united with the same purpose of sharing the good news.  We had previously felt alone, doing our own thing. Just coming together, given a space to share freely, started us on the right track.  

The facilitators did a fantastic job leading us through the thinking process, beginning with the elders and leaders, then focusing our discussion with key questions.  They came up with great questions tailored to where we were at. 

This is not some quick fix or outside programme being promoted, but helping a congregation come to solutions and a way forward with God’s help.  

The ‘world cafe’ discussions had everyone participating and sharing ideas.  Not a minute was wasted!  It was not just empty talk but by the end of the day, led us to decide on a starting point for action.  It was a unanimous decision by all present at the workshop to ‘experiment’ with what we’ve called ‘Table time’ – beginning our times on Sundays with small group sharing and prayer.  The RF workshop helped us identify our particular need to love and encourage one another and care for our own first, if we were ever going to reach out to others. As we did so, the aim was for people to feel connected and able to encourage each other in witnessing opportunities.  ‘Being’ a Christian, rather than just ‘doing’ programmes.   

Young people suddenly sensed hopeful possibilities for change.  Newcomers found a welcome and wanted to bring others.  Encouragement was found as people heard stories of fellow believers witnessing.  The whole church was praying that 10 would be saved. There was a bonding effect.   

Bruce paid another timely visit to encourage and give helpful insight into the need to press on and how to deal with those dissenting.  While there is still a need to re-evaluate and keep spreading the vision, God is constantly working!  

We are so grateful for having done the workshop and the ongoing impact, helping us head in the right direction. 

Andrew Cox

English pastor, Auckland Chinese Presbyterian Church

We really appreciated the way the Love Your Neighbour team met with us to share the vision at the beginning and then after the series to hear how things had gone. The material was excellent – very biblical and positive. We got people to complete the regular surveys in the service and the feedback was so helpful to us. The highlight of the process was the weekend workshop, where Howard, Lynette and Bruce led us through a process of finding our “big idea” to work on. We loved the “World Cafe” and “reverse brainstorming”.

It emerged that our biggest “win” would be to focus on the topic of discipleship. In order to be a church which invites, welcomes and shares Christ with our friends, we must be growing in our knowledge of God and confidence in the gospel. So, this year, that has been our focus. We began at our church camp in February by looking at seven key areas for how to grow as a Christian. During Lockdown 1.0, we introduced 2D groups: 2 or 3 Disciples meeting in person or virtually to encourage one another in their walk and witness. One participant reported: “It gave us accountability to each other to make sure we kept up with reading the Bible. It was also good to discuss real life application of what we read.”

Next year we are moving to a different neighbourhood in the central city. It’s a fantastic opportunity to build redemptive relationships with our new neighbours as we continue to grow our relationship with God.

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