The vision for 2021, beyond Hope Project Easter and Christmas, the volunteer based delivery and Godtalk, is to travel nationally again. We pray to see a continuing increase in the conversational outreach equipping happening in churches - including with our new materials on ‘conversational skills for hostile environments’. We hope to also give a platform to a few others key individuals during our travels who we believe carry something for the nation. God-willing, we’ll connect with pastors groups in about 60 places, and will do a weekend of strategic equipping with combined church groups in each province - giving a ’stage’ to the kind of visionary and strategic thinking that we believe could unite us all to a greater degree in bringing hope to people in our nation. There are things we (God’s Church) can do together to help people that we can’t do apart. The environment is changing. A spirit of innovation is needed - and there is a growing readiness among both pastors in each place, and their members, to adapt and think innovatively!
In 2020 - and partly in view in inadequate funding, the decision was made to make the Hope Project Easter booklet delivery volunteer-based for the largest 70 cities and towns. It catalysed something quite unexpected. The delivery related to 1.08m of the 1.37m homes the booklets can go to, and required well over 4000 volunteers. The necessary team-building, networking and delivery-route map creating work was embarked upon - on an entirely volunteer basis. In nearly all places pastors' groups were pleased to help, and in the others individual churches were willing - and with enthusiasm! This included Auckland, with its 347,000 eligible homes for the booklet delivery. All streets of these cities and towns were also systematically prayed along at the same time. Tens of thousands were also equipped for ‘conversational outreach’ by their pastors through their Sunday services. God’s people were ready to unite and do something useful to see the Christian message of hope and salvation heard and given some esteem! With CoronaVirus in the mix national travels were cancelled - with resource development becoming a focus instead. Two new series of the ‘Because We Care’ outreach equipping videos were created - with matching Godtalk versions for youth also. The number of partnering churches went up from over 800 to 980. The number subscribed to the Godtalk youth updates up from over 500 to 633. Three new Chronicles of Paki ‘Junior Series’ stories were released to schools - and a new ‘prequel’ to the Treaty series also. The year ended with a second run of Hope Project Christmas - again with limited public media due to finances, yet with nation-wide involvement from churches returning Nativity scenes to public view.
Hope Project Easter enjoyed increased online engagement (over 600,000 at Easter alone) in addition to the booklets to 1.36m homes nationally and the TV media. Partnership with churches increased from around 600 to over 800. Partnership with youth and youth leaders increased from about 300 to over 500. A series of 12 short training videos were made for youth leaders about outreach - leading to the site receiving hits from over 800 different youth and youth leaders monthly (increasing to over 1200 monthly in 2020). New outreach-equipping sermon series resources were created - which many churches picked up on to use. Dave’s book on a vision for Church unity in New Zealand, titled ‘In One Spirit’, was launched. Tony Collis then travelled to connect with pastors’ groups in about 30 cities and towns, while Dave Mann travelled to about 15. The book was gifted to all pastors who attended - and it was clear that thinking about unity was shifting from thinking ’this is about relationship only’ to a recognition that unity also exists for mission. There are things we can do together that we cannot do apart. To finish the year Hope Project Christmas was launched - though without a budget for public media due to limited finances. About 1000 churches participated in promoting the idea of returning Nativity scenes to visibility by all means possible. Dave’s separate teams work in creating NZ bicultural history stories added a first ‘Junior Series’ story, helping stories be heard in schools. An amazing year!
With a proposal for three national media efforts annually tabled in 2017, a the national Hope Project media effort began again at Easter. After traveling the entire nation 6 years running - connecting with 60 city pastors' groups each time, our team took a year off travel to focus on new innovation. The Godtalk youth initiative had reached 250 connected youth ministries by the start of the year - while still without funds or paid staff. Zara volunteered for 6 months to help strengthen this, while new resources were developed. Tony Collis worked on new national innovation in the area of children's outreach - later called ‘One Million Children'. Dave Mann wrote a book purposed to encourage a broader understanding on the purpose and responsibility of pastors with regard to their city pastors' groups. A '10 Day Challenge' discipleship app was launched (search ‘Why Jesus?' at the app store). The national Engage Conference continued to provide a unique platform for NZ outreach practitioners to be heard, and for national outreach leaders to network - so we learn from our own and work together.
Discussions with 60+ city pastors' groups in 2015-2016 had revealed a gap in youth outreach equipping. With alternative options exhausted, we launched the Godtalk initiative. As a personal effort, Dave - with a team, launched an educational illustrated history series for schools about the Treaty of Waitangi at Waitangi on Waitangi weekend. Aware of a continuing demise of Christian presence in the public square we traveled the entire nation, meeting pastors' groups in 60 cities and towns, while also presenting 2 seminars to youth leaders in each place, and providing an engaging and inspirational 2.15hr combined church 'kingdom-equipping' programme. Vision for more intentional Christian representation in the public square nationally and at a city-level was part of this. The purpose of city pastors' groups now intentionally entered strategic discussion for our cities and nation.
The third and final envisaged Hope Project effort took place - connecting with over 2m Kiwis via TV, 1.4m households via booklets, and with a few hundred thousand visiting web media. A final report was produced. 50,000 church people were equipped by their church leaders (utilising provided vision and resources) to spiritual conversations in natural ways. A second illustrated NZ history series for NZ schools was released by Dave as a personal project. A first national outreach conference was initiated - in which 18 outreach organisations partnered together.
Phase II of the Hope Project took shape quickly for the second national media effort in May. Dave Mann published a second book on outreach and church culture, to highlight identified issues related to the way NZ churches were approaching their public mission. Meetings with ministers’ associations took place throughout the country to highlight the final phase of the Hope Project in 2016, while showing pastors where to find free resources that supported strategies discussed throughout - purposed to help pastors bring about longer-term changes in the outreach thinking and efforts of their members.
We employed an administration staff due to growing momentum of the Hope Project. The year started with 250 churches partnering with the Hope Project. There was a 2nd roadshow held in 70 NZ cities and towns. The year ended with 400 partnering churches, with the Christian message having gone to more than 1.4m NZ homes via booklets, with thousands of hits at websites, and 50,000 church members prepared by their pastors to engage conversations the media project was designed to initiate. There was seed money in the bank for Phases II & III.
Considerable communications with churches, including a roadshow tour to 70 NZ cities and towns, saw seed money raised to proceed with just the first of the three phases of the Hope Project. Project dates were delayed from Easter 2014 to October 2014 due to the slow pace at which the vision was caught. About 65 pastors continued to receive monthly ‘enCOURAGEment’ updates via the Next Step Project.
With the ‘Hope Project’ finding traction, the team was expanded with volunteers helping with administration, accounts, presenting, web, etc. and a first national tour took place to share the vision in person with ministers’ associations in 70 NZ cities and towns. 30 pastors linked in with the Next Step Project (now rebranded as ‘All Together Consulting)
The vision and plan put on paper, connections made with many church leaders, as well as the writing of a new book on the Church’s mission by Dave Mann - Because we care, together with a series of concise Christian booklets, and drafts of a yet-to-be published series of apologetic booklets.
Jesus clarified that his followers’ lives were to be characterised by the sharing of his message of loving and hope through both words and deeds. See Matthew 22:37 and 28:18. Yet communication is always within culture. These considerations are really important ones in our work.
We are highly committed to proactively encouraging and strengthening the unity of the Church in its missional work in each community.
We’re not here to duplicate, but instead to innovate in the ‘gaps.’ The day we aren’t innovating our distinction is gone.
Not only is a good analysis of culture and change is a pre-requisite to good innovation, we aim to help the wider Church achieve more through changing its thinking in key strategic areas – rather than through doing more!
We work on the premise that amazing things are possible when God is in the picture. Both funding and volunteerism/staffing are viewed through the lenses of faith. For this reason no person is obligated to give to our work, or help our work. We invite. No obligation exists. This value is very important to the DNA of our work.
From the outset we recognise that our organisation is not important in and of itself. It is people, and things that help people, that are important. All organisations are merely temporary conduits for efforts to show love. It follows that the longevity of an organisation is likewise not important – only the longevity of good and timely work. This ‘kingdom mindedness’ is a priority value in the way we conduct ourselves.
The ‘Shining Lights Trust’ was formed in May, 2012.
Founding board members were Dave Mann (Director), David Lee (retired pastor) and Darren Woodward (Think Marketing). In 2013 David Lee stood down due to family needs, and was replaced by Wesley Brinkman (Brinkman Consulting – software systems). With a need for an additional Board member, Pastor Alan Hood was elected to the Board in 2014.
In 2018 Angela Pedersen (Founder and MD of ‘Oh Baby’) joined the board for a year. Every board member has contributed in a valuable way to the development of this work. We thank each one!
Current board members can be viewed at https://shininglights.co.nz/our-team/leadership, and the wider team at https://shininglights.co.nz/our-team.
The Shining Lights Trust received charitable status in October, 2012. Charitable Commission number: CC48320
Our trust deed can be viewed at the NZ Companies Register.
Our financial accounts can be viewed at the Companies Office or the Charities Commission. Accounts are audited annually.
Some of the 2014 Hope Project Team with just a few of the 1.45 million Phase 1 booklets that were delivered to homes in NZ. From left: Sharyn, Naomi, Dave, Beau and Heather.