Richard Fountain | CCCNZ Auckland Enabler
When I was nine years old, I crawled under our house and found an old clock in a dusty box of junk. I happily dismantled the inside of the clock until screws, cogs and switches lay everywhere.
I had one of those ‘what am I going to do now?’ moments. It was easier to leave all those pieces on the floor than to put in the time, energy, and skill to make it back into a clock that served its purpose again!
Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland is such a diverse city. As one pastor said, ‘Going into another suburb is like going to another world. Auckland is the country’s largest urban area, but it’s broken up.’ In Auckland, a community can look and feel very different from the one just a few streets over.
When you move around, you’ll discover that every CCCNZ or Open Brethren heritage church in Auckland reflects their unique context. Sometimes it must seem like we’re all like a box of dismantled clock bits!
Encouraging connection in Auckland
I joined the Auckland team this year as Regional Enabler. I’m grateful for the long legacy of friendship and fellowship between churches in our movement, and I am encouraged by the time I’ve spent catching up with pastors, elders and leaders—hearing their stories of the joys of ministry in Auckland, as well as the challenges.
I’ve served as a pastor in Auckland and spent time teaching the Bible in both Kiwi and cross-cultural contexts. Our family lives in Mangere, and my wife Karen and I attend Wiremu Street Bible Chapel. I love the bustling, culturally-diverse nature of Auckland and the opportunities for encouraging people to live vibrant lives as followers of Jesus.
Being new to the role, I hope to hear more from each of the 40+ CCCNZ/Open Brethren heritage churches in Auckland about how and why you’d like to connect with each other. My desire is to come alongside people who are keen and help encourage you in what you’re doing.
I’d love to see us praying together more, meeting together more, and spurring one another on in reaching Auckland—and New Zealand—for Jesus Christ.
Building through prayer
The book of Ephesians tells God’s story for unity in the church. Paul uses terms for ‘conduct’ ‘walk’, ‘calling’—terms reflecting every-day experiences to build unity (Eph. 4:1-16). We know the Trinity serves as the basis for Christian unity.
When I think of how this unity is possible practically, I’m reminded that prayer is key. We pray that God will work among us when we’re together so that mutual encouragement and spurring one another on to love and good works happens (Heb. 10:24).
This should excite us! We are independent churches, but we don’t have to be isolated from each other. We can join with other churches and pray that the Spirit of God will do his work among us for Jesus and the gospel.
Meeting together to connect
It has been a real privilege in the early days of my role to meet one-on-one or in small groups, and with wider groups of elders and pastors.
There is a real desire to connect with leaders from like-minded churches nearby, for support, prayer, and a shared mission—the desire to see people in their area come to know and trust in Jesus. We’d love to be growing these connections through peer-to-peer conversations—regular phone chats or groups of leaders meeting for coffee in their area with a view to supporting each other.
Spurring one another on in gospel ministry
It is because of our common goal to continue to pursue the gospel of God and serve with others that local Auckland church leaders work together to grow new leaders, plant and renew churches.
It has been a joy to see church leaders gathering informally and formally over the past few years across the city. Hearing of the connections made over Area Church Dinners—where elders and leaders meet with others in their area of Auckland—is particularly encouraging. We’ve got a number of these planned for the coming months and I look forward to getting to know you more as you strengthen your connection with each other.
Leading together as a team
One way to reach multi-cultural Auckland is by taking the time to build cross-cultural relationships within our movement. When we come together, we can listen to each other’s needs and learn what leading in other Auckland contexts looks like. Ane Ponifasio’s excellent piece on God at work in the Samoan Open Brethren movement gives us one example of this type of cross-cultural fellowship.
With a team leadership approach, we can learn to value what each area brings. We see contributions from leaders in Samoan and Tongan churches; conversations between majority Māori and Chinese congregations happening over dinner; and everyone discussing discipleship, church planting challenges and opportunities.
Ministering together as a team
Pastors and elders know the task of training and equipping new leaders, and gifted people, to serve in the local church is not always an easy or straightforward one.
Every person in a church is ‘saved to serve’ and is called to the work of discipleship—growing in the faith alongside others. I’m encouraged by the interest ministry teams are showing in equipping each church member to serve where God has placed them.
Having a box of clock pieces is of some value and to a child it’s fun to play with. But we know that the pieces need to be together to actually work! Adopting a ‘together works better’ approach among our Auckland churches will take time, skill, and spiritual maturity.
We have a God who holds us together. We have people who are passionate about serving local churches, regional camps, and national ministries that support them. Let’s pray that God will continue to guide and enable us as we work together to reach Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland for Jesus Christ.