WOVEN TOGETHER 2020-2021
My mum had a much-loved kete. A kete is a woven flax bag. She would take it everywhere, especially to our family marae, Rangitahi Marae at Matata. She made it on the marae, and so it took on special significance for her. To make her bag, mum took each strand of flax and carefully wove them over and under each other, every fold increasing the strength of the bag as a whole.
What’s remarkable about the bag is how ordinary it is—regular East Coast flax, woven together to become something special to my mother. When the Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Roman church, this same coastal region of New Zealand was covered by dense forest and bathed in birdsong.
In chapter 16, Paul describes a movement of people woven together by the Spirit of Jesus, through the gospel from the Scriptures. Richard Bauckham observes that Paul names 16 individuals in the Roman church at the conclusion of his letter—a church that Paul had never visited!
He not only names them, but he also knows what they are doing to serve the Lord. The number of people who have ministered elsewhere with Paul and are now serving in the Roman church is huge.
In his book The Gospels for all Christians Bauckham observes:
“Of great importance is the extensive evidence that the early Christian Movement was not… a scattering of relatively isolated, introverted communities, but a network of communities in constant, close communication with each other.”
A vital contributor to the vitality of a local church often includes a wider ministry amongst other churches. In God’s upside-down economy, sending can lead to strengthening, giving away can lead to gaining, and generosity can lead to receiving what is given. Weaving can lead to wonder.
We are a movement of independent local churches—and the campsites and ministries that support them. Each church, campsite, and ministry represent a strand of flax. We’ve been woven together in ways that might appear ordinary but transform us into something special.
We’ve been woven together by God across almost a century and half. We’ve been woven together on these islands for the same reason God wove the wider church into the Roman house churches in the First Century—to bring people to be obedient to Jesus.
Over the history of our movement of churches we’ve seen the Holy Spirit carry the gospel, from the Scriptures, across New Zealand more when we are woven together. We’ve seen this over the past year.
We were woven together as various churches shared live streams, technology, and resources with each other during the early days of the 2020 lockdown.
We were woven together as many of our campsites’ camp managers came together for a regular Zoom call to pray, encourage, and support each other during lockdown and for several months afterwards.
We were woven together as we joined each other for a National Prayer Gathering online last year— using technology to connect us in a time where physical distancing kept us apart.
We were woven together as churches, campsites, and support ministries as we came together for regional prayer gatherings in Otago/Southland, Christchurch, and Auckland during September and October last year.
We were woven together as E-QUIP online training provided a place for people serving in Children and Families Ministry to discuss what intergenerational ministry would look like in their churches. E-QUIP online training provided a place for people serving in these roles to discuss what intergenerational ministry would look like in their churches.
We’ve been being woven together as 11 more churches chose to formally link in to the CCCNZ service trust and strengthen their connection to each other and the wider movement.
We’ve celebrated together as various churches from Hamilton, Paeroa, Invercargill, and elsewhere have noticed more people seeking answers online and in person. We’ve celebrated together as various churches saw people come to faith in Jesus, and as many baptised people over the past year.
As we look back on 2020, we see the incredible ways God has been weaving us together into his kete. As a movement we’ve been stretched and challenged, but God’s grace is making us more supple and stronger.
As a staff team it is our immense privilege to serve amongst you as God works to weave us together so that more people can hear of Jesus, through the gospel, from the Scriptures.
Read our full report HERE.
Mark Grace | CCCNZ Ambassador