Crying is better than Dying

Thursday, June 27, 2024

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Dear Pastors

Crying is better than Dying

About five weeks ago Jeanette and I met a delightful young women. We advertised on our local Facebook noticeboard for a someone to do some gardening for us. Kara replied and got the ‘job’.

It turns out that Kara is from the States and a Christian, having not long completed an under-graduate degree in Theology and Community Development. In August she is heading to seminary in Michigan to start a M.Div. programme. Currently, she is doing her O.E. and staying in Raglan for about 5 months. She loves God, loves the local church, well read, biblically literate and smart. We invited her over for dinner the other night.

One of the things I love doing and do often is ask young people in their 20’s and 30’s (Gen Z and Gen Alpha) how they see the church. Needless to say I was keen to ask Kara.

What’s missing in the American church?, I asked her between a delicious mouth full of pork - Community and Connection she said……in a heartbeat. Also understanding and acceptance! I’ll come back to that in a moment. Later in the conversation we talked about Christian Nationalism as it is playing out in the States and it was heart warming to hear her analysis of it along with her deep concern at the damage this thing is doing not only in the Church but in American society as a whole. I want to say more about that in another blog soon.

In the 2023 Faith and Belief study this theme of community and relationships came up over and over again. In the two quotes below we see that not-yet-christian people highly value community but often find it challenging to find.

“Happiness comes from building a strong community around me, my friends and family, just having someone to lean on”. Gen Z

Building strong, close relationships is a priority for people living in Aotearoa New Zealand. The top areas of life satisfaction are family and social wellbeing (53%) and personal relationships (53%). Building connections beyond these close relationships is more challenging, however, with having a sense of community being the third lowest area of life satisfaction (35%).”

This brings me to last nights five minute segment on Seven Sharp. I want to encourage every pastor and lay leader to pop on and have a look at this powerful piece….it will touch your heart. It starts at 5:00min.

It’s a powerful story about the work Graeme Skilling and Zac Guildford (former All Black) are doing through a relatively new Charity called the Broken Movement Trust.

Here you see big burly men breathing deeply, exercising, hugging and crying and being vulnerable as they wrestle with addictions, mental health issues and past criminality.

I quote:

“This (group sessions) is way better than jail, way better than hospital and way better than the grave”.

“Everybody needs a rock solid person or people whose got your back. It is the best cure for years of neglect”.

Zac and Graeme offer “tools, aroha and support”.

And perhaps the most powerful words of all “Crying is better than dying”.

Pastors, is this not what our work is all about? Is this not what it means to be church? I want to say it again. We have become far to organisationally and institutionally focused. Frankly, most church attending people don’t care a rip about the organisation…..ask them if you don’t believe me……..what they really care about is the experience, the people, the vibe, the acceptance and the authenticity.

I think FAMILY is the metaphor for the church that we need to strive for. People want to be part of a family. Not an organisation, not a stage performance, not a denomination and not even a programme but a family. People want (and need) one safe place on earth where they can come and say, “I’m beat, I’m down, I’ve messed up and I’m stuffed”.

Will you personally be that person and will your congregation be that community and that place?

And before I go. I must let you know about Mana Atua. This new movie follows the epic journey of Lucky Te Koha as he helps some of our nation's gangs begin to receive healing from the traumas of their past and to discover a new future, free from addiction, violence, and sexual abuse. It’s a wonderful story of God’s redeeming power. I would like to encourage every local church be a part of a country wide ‘launch’ of this new movie.

Premiering from August 24th to September 15th in venues across New Zealand, this amazing film showcases the radical power of the gospel and will encourage and inspire audiences nationwide. Fantail Studios would like to invite you to host a free screening of this incredible feature documentary with your church, marae, or community group. Simply visit Mana Atua - Beyond the Patch | TV Series | Fantail Studios to find out more and to register for this free nationwide cinematic outreach event. We are hosting at my home church a combined churches event.


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