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!

These ‘SWOT’ words give a structure for analysing challenges so I’ve used them in thinking about the situation our NZ Baptist family face now in mid 2020: 

STRENGTHS: We are a movement of local churches, which means we can be nimble enough to embrace change if we want to. Our recent online efforts may have opened a new opportunity for us. We are known for our faith-filled activism and we are passionate for transformation. This is a great time to be us! 

WEAKNESSES: Historically our movement has thrived when facing an external foe, but we have also been too quick to have conflict when we lose focus. Trauma research indicates that after a crisis there is a sweet spot of unity, which often evaporates as traditional polarities strongly re-emerge. We must resist this danger at the moment! We must not descend into superstitious fearmongering when the world is troubled, but be found as faithful witnesses. We must not lose our passion for Jesus, for scripture, for prayer. Mistakenly thinking that it is all about finance. Mistaking ‘local’ for ‘independent’ when our ability to associate is a tremendous asset. 

OPPORTUNITIES: Social issues in our country will grow, and our movement has a tremendous thread of social activism within. Housing, foodbanks, youthwork, mental health provision all present new opportunities for the church. Maybe this is also one of those ‘molten moments’ where the search for meaning is being expressed by more people. We can speak and act in that space, especially through chaplaincy, social work, and pastoral care. Our sense of community has been a witness during lockdown, and we can continue to model loving relationships that others hunger for. 

THREATS: We need to keep our eyes on Jesus, to bury our egos, to be quick to listen, to humble ourselves in front of our opponents, and to unite for the sake of the kingdom that is coming. The greatest threat would be to hope for a return to ‘normal’ as it once was.

Contributor: Chris Chamberlain, Oxford Terrace Baptist Church

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

Fiona Beals; Grant Harris; Kate Dunstan-BrownHelen Geddes; Jonathan Edmeades; Cliff Thompson; Jamie Li; Dave Tims; Donna Denmead; Richardson Lau; Christine Saywell; Mike Crudge

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