Tena koutou katoa (Maori language = greetings to you all). It's a privilege to share how God has led us in New Zealand to a vision for greater cooperation among the denominations to reach our nation.
New Zealand, in the South Pacific, is a western democracy of 3.5 million people. There are 60 million sheep. Our islands are similar in size to Great Britain.
In the 1800s New Zealand was settled as a British colony. Through an amazing people movement the Holy Spirit swept most of the indigenous Maori people into the kingdom of God. New Zealand was churched by the transfer of Britain's major denominations: in order of size the largest groups are Anglican, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist. New Zealand has sent out possibly the highest number of missionaries per capita in the world. Our largest city, Auckland, has one million people.
Our population is: 75% British or European origin, 12% Maori, 6% Pacific Islanders, 7% Asian.
A dramatic recent religious trend has been the huge increase of people who claim to have no religion, to about 25% of our population. The historic mainline churches are losing many nominal Christians to secularism. Mainline denominations are undermined from within by liberal theology. The Church is attacked (or ignored) by a media loyal to secular humanism and homosexualism.
In 1987 a DAWN (Discipling A Whole Nation) Strategy was launched. Research showed that the Baptists were growing, and some of the newer Pentecostal denominations were growing rapidly. A DAWN Congress in 1989 brought some church leaders together to set church planting goals. However, DAWN did not capture the attention of the larger mainline denominations, nor of the many parachurch or specialist agencies in New Zealand. There was no common vision.
At the Lausanne Congress in Manila in 1989, the Lord showed us the need for a second phase of the DAWN Strategy, with a new name, and that although church planting had to be encouraged as a priority for the denominations, we needed a comprehensive approach, that included church planting among many other ministries.
In 1990 a meeting of about 70 representative leaders agreed to some very important principles, and Vision New Zealand was born: to call the Whole Church to take the Whole Gospel to the Whole Nation.
God has led us in New Zealand to a vision for greater cooperation among the denominations to reach our nation. Our Mission Statement is as follows:
We see, from John 15:1-6, that God is throwing unfruitful vines into the fire, and pruning fruitful vines to make them more fruitful. Our next Congress is in July 1996, to review what God has done, and what we must do next.Bruce Patrick, New Zealand