Kia ora All Saints family!
Summer here. This past week Guy shared with me how he had been thinking a lot recently about the passage from Luke 24 where two of Jesus’ disciples were walking along the road to Emmaus. They were leaving Jerusalem after everything that had happened. The Jesus they believed in, the one they thought was going to redeem Israel and take down the powers and principalities, had died. He was gone. Everything they believed in, hoped for and expected had just shattered. Here’s the bit that stands out for me: they were walking the road, not alone, but together! They were propping each other up. When it was all gone, when it felt like they’d hit the bottom of the barrel, they stayed together. I think this resonates for us particularly strongly this week because as COVID comes/interrupts/breaks us down, we must remember that we still have each other and that this is not a road we should walk alone! When big gatherings stop, or the way we are use to doing things gets broken down or hard, we still have each other.
What we are seeing here at All Saints during this time is really this truth in action. Walking this road together looks like choosing to continue gather together, choosing to shift into house churches in smaller numbers so that we can continue to worship, study the word of God, pray and support one another as we reach out into the world around us. In choosing this path we are choosing relationship, which is deeply rooted in how God made us and we are choosing together to continue to seek Jesus as we walk.
We as deacons are continuing to pray for you all during this time, we are incredibly encouraged by the amazing and exciting stories we are hearing about the different groups that are meeting during the week and on Sundays. We are adding groups continuously to be sure there are spaces for all of us to join in and accept the invitation into deep and authentic relationship together on this journey.
This week it’s important that we talk about how we are going to go forward with house churches and the reintroduction of central gatherings on Sundays. As you may be aware, there was an adjustment to the Level 2 restrictions. Whereas previously we were limited to gathering sizes of 50, that has now shifted to 100. Prior to this decision God had gone before us and we had a conversation at our Parish Council meeting discussing the best way forward for this very scenario.
So this is the decision we came to and what All Saints gatherings all round are going to look like for the next few months.
This coming Sunday 26th Sept we will remain in our house churches.
The following Sunday Oct 3rd we will gather back at All Saints for our 9am and 10:30 gatherings. You can click here to read the government guidelines for faith-based gatherings in Alert Level 2.
Now that we can meet in numbers up to 100, it would be really easy for us to go forward as we always have, with Central Gatherings every Sunday, and then those who have extra time or interest can join a small group. But what we as a community have set up in the last few weeks is a gift from God and we want to acknowledge that. We now have amazing house church network with an incredible group of leaders who are passionate about connecting us together, as well as exploring and strengthening our worship in the home. Remember, worship in the home is how it all started in those days following the Resurrection.
So with that in mind, until the end of November, we are going to alternate between house churches and central gatherings on Sundays fortnightly. On the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month we will be in our central gatherings and on the 2nd and 4th Sundays we will gather in our house churches. November has a 5th Sunday and we will send out communication about that later.
There is incredible power in gathering in the home together, to worship, pray and study. The closeness of relationship and the way we can engage with one another happens in a way that isn’t possible on a Sunday morning.
The likelihood of us moving in and out of alert levels in the months to come is high. We must ensure that we are able to stay closely connected if and when that happens, and house churches are the way to do that.
So the task before us as a parish is to give our house churches a good chance to become embedded into the life of the parish for this season of life and ministry.
If you are not in a house church already please click here to register your interest in joining one.
We are excited to gather together again, celebrate and worship with you all on October 3rd. Until then, blessings to you all and may your gathering time in your house churches be fruitful, challenging and joyus! We cannot wait to hear the stories!
Summer, Guy, Emily, and Andrew
Kia ora All Saints family!
I (Guy) have had two really challenging and exciting conversations this week. One with several people from the diocese, and one with a new friend from Te Pīhopatanga o Te Tai Tokerau (Maori Diocese of Northland). In both of these where we were talking and dreaming around how to best continue to be the church in this environment when the worship in the Temple – in big gatherings - is not a viable option. There is a Maori proverb that says Ka mua, ka muri: Looking back in order to move forward. For us in this environment it’s important for us not to think of some new snazzy way of doing things but rather about looking backwards to go forwards. We have felt that during this time the establishment of house churches is our greatest vehicle of discipleship and stability as a parish.
This week I sent out a detailed newsletter on how this is going to be rolled out over the parish and how you can get involved. You can find that here.
As we establish this house church network in our parish we are excited by the way we can continue to connect with each other and our communities. There are three things that we feel are really important to the culture that is being embedded into our parish and our groups; these are UP, IN and OUT. UP = our relationship with God, Jesus centred, reading the word of God. IN = Authentic community, discipling one another, sharpening one another, connecting, relationship. OUT = Being missional, reaching those in our community, creating on-ramps for people who don’t know Christ.
Our passion and desire is to see each person , family and group grow and be discipled closer to Christ, closer to each other, and closer with the community around us.
We know this is big and new for most of us so I want you to please feel free to call or email me if you want to chat through anything that stands out.
Guy, Summer, Emily and Andy.
This week Jeshua brings us week 15 in our Mark series - speaking from the passage Mark 11:12-25.
Kia ora All Saints Whānau,
We are now a week into Level 2 Delta, and we hope that you are adjusting well and finding new ways of doing things in this new season.
Reclaiming the House Church – Alert Level 2 Delta
When we heard the announcement last week about the changes to level 2, we as a leadership team began to prayerfully consider what this means for our parish. What was quickly clear to us is that meeting together in level 2 is no longer possible for All Saints. The biggest reason for this is the fact that the maximum number of people that can gather now is 50.
Given this realization, we began praying, thinking through options, consulting with other parish leaders, and working to get creative with our options. Our main goal was to find a way for us to stay connected with one another, worship God, and reach those around us. The conclusion we reached through all of this was that there isn’t a new silver bullet here. In order to accomplish our goals we actually just need to dig deep into who we are as a Church and who we have always been called to be.
When we look back to the early Church, following the death of Jesus, we see a bold and empowered group of believers that weren’t going to let the oppression or opposition stop them from meeting together and declaring the good news. We live in a world where at present we are battling a virus that for the safety of others is preventing us from meeting together in person in large groups. This isn’t going to stop us.
Every day the believers continued to meet together. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. (Acts 2:46)
We believe that the Lord is calling us as a parish to continue to break bread together in our homes during this season when we are unable to meet together in big groups. We often talk of Church in the TEMPLE and in the HOME. For generations we as a Church have been gathering primarily in the temple, but this is a time when we need to strengthen they way that we do Church in the home; meeting together to pray, disciple, worship and share meals together.
What does this look like for All Saints? We have worked to begin the establishment of a house church network throughout the parish that can help us all to continue to meet together for the foreseeable future while we are unable to gather in large groups. Some of these groups already exist and are up and running. We have also called upon new house church leaders who are filled with courage and boldness to gather and lead groups during this time.
What does a House Church Look like?
We currently have 10 groups set up with numbers being added to them daily to help connect the parish. Each group is lead by one or two people and those leaders are being lead closely by the deacons. Our aim is to gather in our groups weekly to connect with one other, fellowship, pray, learn and worship.
“And the Lord added to their number daily.” (Acts 2:47) We are aware that in the past, home groups, small groups, cell groups, or whatever we call them have typically existed to supplement Sunday gatherings and are generally centered around a study or group reflection. This is a fine thing and good to continue, but in this new and unknown season we are in, our hope is that our house church network can also be a place of prayer and worship together, and a place where we can invite and engage with people in our world who don’t yet know Jesus. An informal gathering with your house church is a great place to invite others into when they otherwise may not feel comfortable turning up to our services on a Sunday morning. There is great potential and flexibility in gathering together in this way.
We understand that for many of us this is new, unfamiliar, and possibly a bit scary. We are not used to gathering together and worshipping in this way. Many may feel they don’t know what to expect. If this is how you feel, you are not alone. But the reality is, we as a nation are likely going to be changing levels and restrictions for some time yet and we don’t want to let this stop us from doing what God has called us all to do. While it will take a shift for many of us, we believe that by not recreating the wheel, but looking back at the early church and living into the true calling of disciples, we can give ourselves and those in our parish a great vehicle for discipleship, growth and connection, even during this trying time.
Our hope and prayer is that you all will join us. If we step into the new and unknown together it is so much easier than trying to do it on our own. So let us walk boldly together into this new season and trust our loving and faithful God to give us all that we need to grow in our own faith and also in our ability to share that faith with those around us.
House Church (small group connecting in the name of Jesus in a house) may include:
We can use the model of UP IN OUT
Breaking Bread Together
A Seder meal is the Jewish feast that is held at home on the first night of the Passover. It is held to retell the story of the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt. In its’ core tradition, this meal was intergenerational, with the family unit celebrating the faithfulness of God together. We are a family! We are celebrating together and retelling the story of what Jesus has done for us in our home! We encourage our house churches to break bread together, sharing meals with one another and giving glory to God. We have also enabled Andy and Emily to serve our house churches by visiting each one regularly to celebrate the Eucharist with us as we meet in our houses with one another.
How can you participate?
We currently have groups which have already started, and more being added as our network grows and in an attempt to be able to have places where everybody in the parish can engage. If you would like to join in, the easiest thing to do is to let us know by clicking here to email us and registering your interest in joining a house church.
As a leadership team, this is our primary focus and where we will throw loads of our energy into supporting the parish. We will be gathering house church leaders regularly for input, prayer and support, and they will look to gather their house churches regularly too. There will be resourcing for house churches from us with creative ideas for how to pray and worship together, providing input and teaching, and encouragement and ideas for ways we can reach out and grow.
We want to acknowledge that not everyone in the parish for one reason or another will join a house church and we want to say that in response to that we are in the early stages of setting up a sustainable phone tree network where we can keep those not in groups well connected and supported.
Our aim is to establish this network in a way that has the agility to adapt with the level changes and strength to be sustained even as we add services back in when government restrictions allow.
Blessings in Christ,
Guy, Summer, Andy and Emily