Saturday, May 15, 2010

Renewed focus on building great congregations in Tikanga Maori?

A little while ago I made a two part post on a decision made in one of the hui amorangi within Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa. Within those posts I was raising the question of the place building congregational life has within a strategic vision for ministry and mission. There were some interesting comments in response ...

Fast forward to this past week. I was very encouraged by what I heard at General Synod, both formally and informally. A debate towards some resolution on 'resource sharing' seemed to me to include an urgent desire to build congregational life. From the Taonga report:

" “We come to rejoice in 30 years of ministry,” he added, before inviting the Ven Hirini Kaa to recap on the story of that ministry.

Archdeacon Kaa then elaborated on the Maori church’s history, stretching from the 1880s to the present. There’s plenty to celebrate, he said, but precious few resources.

Today the Maori church has 38 rohe (ministry units) but only five stipendiary clergy, with three fulltime. Each rohe has on average four worship centres.

“We’re heavily reliant on volunteers,” Archdeacon Kaa said. “We’re structured as a rural church, but living in an urban context…

“We’re asking for 12 stipendiary positions. Under-capitalised and under-resourced, we’re still the spiritual backbone of Maoridom.”"

Some attendance figures were given by Archdeacon Kaa, with some concern that figures are falling rather than rising. One aspect of the situation is neatly captured in his words, "“We’re structured as a rural church, but living in an urban context…" Thus most Maori church buildings are in country areas rather than in cities (where worship may take place on the marae, in community centres, in shared pakeha church buildings). In Te Wai Pounamou (South Island) for example, there is currently no Maori church building in any city, but there are church buildings in rural towns and villages such as Motueka, Tuahiwi, Arowhenua). I think the three full-time stipendiary positions are in Rotorua, Mangere (south Auckland) and central Auckland.

Twelve stipendiary positions, strategically spread through the islands will make a significant difference to congregational life.

It is not as though there are no Maori congregations in our land - it is just that typically they are found in Pentecostal rather than Anglican contexts, with the former predominantly found in urban areas. "Under-capitalised and under-resourced, we’re still the spiritual backbone of Maoridom" means there is significant potential for Maori to 'come home' to lively Anglican congregational life. To say nothing, of course, of the potential for evangelism bringing people home to Christ. We are Te Haahi Mihinare (the Missionary Church)!

It is my hope that ways and means can be found to support the appointment of twelve fully stipended clergy. New Maori church plants are definitely achievable - I heard a lovely story of a recent plant that is growing well.

In a brief speech to a Tikanga Pakeha caucus on resource sharing I offered one idea which I outline here: knowing that actual financial resource sharing is difficult for many dioceses because funds are committed to this, that and the other, I think we need to not only consider present funds but also future ones. We could have an agreed policy across all the pakeha dioceses that future funds derived from untagged, general bequests and endowments, as well as from unexpected surpluses in diocesan annual accounts (they do occur from time to time!!) would be shared with Tikanga Maori.

This suggestion is not intended to avoid consideration of present sharing possibilities. But it could be fruitful. I know of a diocese which a few years ago received a general bequest for a million or so dollars. It has used the money very productively. But not a dollar has gone towards Maori work within its boundaries. Even a tithe of that bequest would have been $100K towards the work of te Rongopai (the gospel) ... and 50% would have been ...

Of course to think in this way is to think more consciously of being one church working in three tikanga (cultural streams) rather than being a three tikanga church (i.e. three churches who occasionally get together for meetings). A point made in the speech which followed mine!

Ehara taku korero i tenei, kia mama ai etahi, a, ko koutou kia taimaha, engari kia taurite; ko nga mea a koutou i hira i tenei wa hei mea mo to ratou hapa, a, ko nga mea a ratou e hira hei mea ma koutou ina hapa; kia rite ai. Kia pera me te mea i tuhituhia, "Ko te tangata i nui tana whakaemi kahore he tuhene; ko te tangata i nohinohi tana kihai i hapa." (2 Koriniti 8:13-15)


MargaretG said...

You said some attendance figures were given, can you give us an idea of what they were (round numbers jut a feel).

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Margaret
The figure I heard was secondhand (I did not hear the presentation) so I have not put it in the main post. But the second-hand figure was around 1700 per week. To make that comparative, if that has been accurately reported to me, that is around half the weekly attendance (in round terms, of course) in the Diocese of Nelson. Please treat this figure as anecdotal unless I can otherwise confirm it.

Rosemary Behan said...

Your heading talks about building great congregations. So built them. That's what we expect of our leaders in His church. [Which by the way is NOT divided into Tikanga.] Money doesn't come into it, the blessing of God on the work of His servants is what counts.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary
Money comes into a wee bit! God builds the church, but where he calls people to work with him on the building up of God's people, there is a need for a 'living allowance' or stipend ... or for a team of volunteers ... or for tent-makers.

But someone like myself - privileged to receive a stipend - feels that some care is needed not to fall into an argument in which I the stipended one ask others without stipend to undertake some full-time ministry!

Anonymous said...

Peter, you wouldn't care much for the comparison (and neither do I), but if a Brian Tamaki can draw thousands of Maori to church, why can't Anglicans?
An ASA of c. 1700 pw makes even the weaker Tec dioceses look positively flourishing. Is the tikanga really justified?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Outis
Anglicans may not be making promises of prosperity in return for tithing-plus!

Rosemary Behan said...

Money comes into it more than a wee bit Peter, but I still don’t get the impression that your thinking is too straight on this matter. [With talk of using money from people’s Last Will and Testament.] God’s Word says that the ‘labourer is worthy of his hire.’ I’m sure we don’t disagree on that. Also there is a huge need to evangelise our nation and all those who live here of whatever creed or colour. The question remains, who is going to choose those who will be given a stipend?

In the not too distant past, we sent 50 people to ‘revive’ an elderly and very small congregation nearby. Those 50 people would not go unless they were assured that they would receive the same leadership/ministry that they were leaving. The people in the pews in other words, chose their new minister. We can no longer do that in the Anglican church as it’s set up can we? That on top of the fact that we don’t trust those who DO choose who will be stipended, means that I wouldn’t give any of my money to such a project unless I had some say as to who would receive it.

I will and do however, support outreach in many forms both financially and prayerfully, just not the way you’re suggesting.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary
I certainly appreciate that there are two circumstances in which we give money: one in which we respond to a request (or a glaring need) with complete trust in the recipient that they will use the money responsibly and productively (with minimum applied to administrative costs); another in which we come with the money, so to speak, and participate in the decision-making about how it is used. (Parents are faced with these choices all the time, I am finding, as children become adults :) :) ).

Church planting, it seems to me, is one of these situations, because a successful church plant could get off the ground if only some seeding funding were given; and could get off the ground if I (and my funds) become part of the plant (as you and your parish experienced with the church "restart" plant you mention).

With respect to Tikanga Maori aspirations, and the General Synod decision I would simply observe that, at this stage, all that has been decided is that a Commission is established to take dialogue about 'resource sharing' further. Let's pray that what emerges from the dialogue is wisdom and vision about the best way forward for renewed, and extended Maori congregational life.

Anonymous said...

I’m with Outis and Rosemary on this one. You appear to imply that the five Maori bishops are not full-time stipended clergy, so are they tent-maker bishops? I know you have lots and lots of tent-maker clergy. In any case, anywhere else a church having eight full-time clergy, five of them being bishops without cathedrals, would be regarded as a humorous example of episcopoi vagantes. In your case you make one of these bishops the primate and give him a seat at the Primates Meeting of the Anglican Communion. I now understand why you take ACNA and TAC so seriously.

Ah – a commission for dialogue… Yep - that should definitely make a huge difference!

אף אחד לא

MargaretG said...

Hi Peter
Thanks for your answer -- 1700 raises the question of why so many people can only afford two stipendary positions now. On the basis that most congregations of 170 seem to be able to afford a paid staff member, there should be at least 10.

I am from the Presbyterian church, and I wonder sometimes we should all look over the fence at each other to see what has and hasn't worked before we try it.

For what it is worth, through most of the 1900s and up to the mid 2000s we gave our Maori Synod (Te Aka Puaho) a grant of 11% of all the money raised for national programmes. I have no idea where the 11% number came from, but it was a significant transfer of funding.

This ceased around the mid-2000's largely because the church got itself into financial difficulties. But the reason why this programme rather than others was cut was its spectacular lack of success.

We kept getting told of the amazing numbers who were being "influenced" by the mission, but when the numbers in the pews were counted there were only 192 adults and 71 children. gives the details.

What had happened with all of that money? Well it had enabled was the continuation of failing missions (because no one had to face up to failure) and the enshrinement of a few selected individuals in power (because they were the ones who controlled the money. In other words it reinforced the failure that led to the need for a transfer in the first place.

Even more disheartening was the absolute lack of any progress in the centres of population. Auckland -- yes that great city of Auckland -- had mission with 7 adults and 2 children!!! Wellington, which spend mega-bucks on a Marae because "if you build it they will come" had 5 adults and 2 children.

I fear your church is not going to learn from our mistakes. What is lacking from your Maori mission is not funding, it's not paid leaders, it is a presentation of the gospel that attracts the Maori people. All giving resources will do is encourage its ongoing failure by providing the resources so that no-one has to face up to that reality.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Hebrew Anonymous

The five Maori bishops are full-time.

Ministry for Maori clergy involves a lot of work not easily categorised as "congregational", including availability for funerals, for blessings of buildings, for participation in community life on marae, etc.

The question at issue (in my view) is not whether the stipended clergy are full employed, but whether, over the long term, a renewed focus on congregational life would pay all sorts of dividends, including a greater pool of people to be drawn on when seeking new ministers and missioners.

The situation in Tikanga Maori around support for ministry development is not a matter of humour.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Margaret
You make salutary points - thank you.
Personally, before I would ask questions why more stipended ministers are not supported within Tikanga Maori, I would ask questions about the socio-economic well-being of Anglican Maori.

My anecdotal understanding is that the average Pakeha parishioner is wealthier than the average Maori parishioner.

Anonymous said...

Five fulltime bishops for ASA of 1700? I feel some Gilbert & Sullivan coming on:
"Lord Chancellors were cheap as sprats,
And Bishops in their shovel hats
Were plentiful as tabby cats--
In point of fact, too many.
Ambassadors cropped up like hay,
Prime Ministers and such as they
Grew like asparagus in May,
And Dukes were three a penny."
--- The Gondoliers

What are the priorites here? House 'blessings' and funerals? Really? (I am tempted to mutter 'aphes tous nekrous thapsai tous heaouton nekrous')
The Church of Nigeria consecrated numerous missionary bishops without dioceses - and they went out and started new dioceses, in one of the biggest stories of church growth in recent history.
Are these Maori bishops missionaries or MCs?

MargaretG said...

Hi Peter
Granted about the socio-economic position -- and that is why I made 170 support one minister -- in a Pakeha congregation (in our model) 100 can do it - so on that basis they should have 17.

I think if you pushed that 1700 number it would turn out to be wishful thinking.... but my greater concern is the one I stated before. All providing money will do will be to support a model that is not working, and make it more difficult to actually reach Maori folk with the gospel.

MargaretG said...

I should have added -- I am not convinced that the average Pakeha will be that much richer.

You will have an awful lot of old age pensioners among those Pakeha parishoners.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Outis
I do not run around judging whether pakeha bishops are gainfully employed or not, missionary-focused or not, so I am not about to engage in a conversation which seems to pick on Maori bishops.

Hi Margaret,
I think the commission our General Synod has set up will be very focused on resource sharing which enlarges the kingdom of God rather than resource sharing of the kind which (sadly) you described as being recently experienced within your denomination.

Simon M said...

I believe that the Anglican Church stands at the beginning of a new dynamic in mission and Tikanga relationships. I am looking forward to how the Resource Review pans out – there will I am sure be a lot of talk – but at least there will be talk on this issue of resources for mission.
If I got the ‘feel’ of synod right, it was that the Anglican Church needs to engage in mission within New Zealand again. Expecting Tikanga Maori alone to lead mission to Maori is unchristian and doomed to failure.
What is also quite interesting is how a new way of talking will be developed through this process. It’s definitely needed; the resistance of the old arguments are sounding increasingly hollow. A new form of dialogue is needed and I thought that I heard it starting at synod… across all 3 Tikanga, all 3 houses and by young and old alike.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Simon,

MargaretG said...

"General Synod has set up will be very focused on resource sharing which enlarges the kingdom of God"

Tino rangatiratanga -- what do you mean the General Synod thinks it can say what the money can be spent on!

Good luck!!!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Margaret
The talk of resource sharing will include ways in which people resources can be shared (e.g. joint training sessions and such like). But when it comes to cold hard cash, I am confident that the conversation will be a hard and difficult one because on the one hand tino rangatiratanga will be included in the conversation, as will pakeha concern that cash given for purpose X will be spent on purpose X.

I make no prediction as to the actual outcome of the conversation.

But, in line with Simon M's comment above, I think we may have reached a stage in our life together where assertion of tino rangatiratanga will be less influential than the urgency of the situation our church faces.