What is God saying to you and to others? What will future ministry and mission look like? What things need to remain the same? What changes do we need to embrace? In 2020 we invited New Zealand Baptists to reflect upon these questions in light of the Coronavirus Pandemic and to share their thoughts on the future. We’re now reproducing these reflections here for all to see and be inspired by!

We are heading into a major recession. We haven’t really felt it yet because government has—and is—softening the blow with wage subsidies and major financial input. But it’s going to hurt, and it’s going to affect everyone. The government are predicting unemployment increases to 9% and for the poor 18-24%. Many of our normal funding sources (for churches and trusts) may dry up. Auckland Council services will decrease ($500 million cuts), affecting some major developments, meaning a decrease in funding to Local Boards for community grants and events etc. 

Sounds depressing—well it is, and that’s why they call it a ‘depression’. However, it’s also an opportunity. Dr Ganesh Nana and Pam Ford—both top NZ Economists—see this as an opportunity to ‘re-organise the way we live’, economy is more than just money, it’s about resources and how we organise and use them. Ganesh encourages us to think ‘long term’, with the resources that you and I have, as an investment for our grandchildren, rather than thinking NOW, think “What will I leave behind for them, their families and friends?” 

What does this mean for us? As Baptists, Cameron Jones believes our “best response would be to act as brokers; utilising our networks to connect those who have need, with those who have the knowledge/experience to help them overcome it (e.g. in accessing work and income entitlements, to find homes, to re-work household budgets and assistance in making tough calls, business advice etc.).” Working collectively with churches and community, a grassroots approach, will help to bring care and resources for many. 

At Urban Neighbours of Hope we have taken this approach. In the last six weeks we have started 16 Street Facebook pages and employed seven part-time “Street Activators” from the neighbourhood, with the aim of connecting all neighbours to the pages. Through this, street activities and BBQs will be organised with Street Leaders, whānau will be encouraged and up-skilled with ‘online learning’, employment opportunities brokered and kai and hygiene packs will be delivered (sourced from Manurewa Marae). Sadly, COVID-19 exposed ‘the poverty divide’ revealing that many households didn’t have personal devices, and the MOE devices were never delivered. 

The challenge for us all is to network, work collectively and broker relationships. This is one example of the Good News of Jesus.

Contributor: Dave Tims, Urban Neighbours of Hope

Read other reflections on the future of ministry and mission by New Zealand Baptists:

Fiona Beals; Grant Harris; Kate Dunstan-Brown; Chris Chamberlain; Helen Geddes; Jonathan Edmeades; Cliff Thompson; Jamie LiDonna Denmead; Richardson Lau; Christine Saywell; Mike Crudge

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