The year had hardly started when we had the opportunity to live out our Vision and Mission in compelling ways.
It started with floods in Auckland and ramped up across the country as Cyclone Gabrielle savaged communities. These are litmus test moments for the church where we get to test whether our Vision to see Transformed People, Churches and Communities OVERFLOWING with Grace and Holiness are words written on a page or on human hearts. These are the moments when we get to see whether our Mission to Empower and Equip Churches and Leaders to Reach, Grow and Serve are aspirational or perspirational.
What I saw? I saw a resilient church that swung into action to serve its communities. I saw a praying church that held each other up in a time where chaos might have led instead to despair. I saw a generous church that rallied together nationally and raised the single largest amount of money we have ever raised in the history of the Wesleyan Methodist church in New Zealand! $30,000 and counting.
Our churches in Gisborne and Napier were on the front line of overflowing a collective grace into the lives of hurting, disoriented people in their regions. They did this while dealing with their own losses and uncertainties. Churches across Auckland reached out to their neighbours in practical life-giving ways.
Many churches are reporting an upswing in attendance and optimism in 2023. Some point, in part, to the receding shadow of the pandemic. But what is equally true is that genuine transformation and authentic discipleship are only rarely triggered by positive
external conditions. In fact, scripture speaks of the more likely truth, that the authentic work of the Spirit in a human life is revealed under pressure. We read this in Paul’s words to the church at Corinth in 2 Cor 4:
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
As we together move towards living as transformed people, as we together align our efforts to equip and empower each other for the mission of reaching, growing and serving, we might pray less for better times and more that God’s glory is revealed in our lives and His church in these times. The church, you see, is not called to be the church for “better times” but for the times we find ourselves in. May God’s grace and holiness overflow into our lives and through our churches as we surrender to Him.