Forrest Hill Presbyterian Church

LARGE ENOUGH TO SHARE, SMALL ENOUGH TO CARE

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Think Tank

10th November 2019

It was great to have four of us from FHPC at the dinner meeting of the Coastal region of Northern Presbytery on Tuesday evening at St. Georges. My thanks to John, Lorna and Jill for their time. It was good to have some other elders there because the Northern Presbytery think tank was making a presentation about the future of the church in the Auckland region.

The work of the Think-tank is to shape the future focus of the Northern Presbytery of the PCANZ, our church. Statistically in the presbytery, our church is in decline. 40% of our congregations are 'currently at risk of not being viable in at least the medium to long term.' One of the key questions asked in the Think-tank paper A case for change is this: 'Do we focus on managing the decline or commit to re-ignite or rejuvenate the Presbyterian Church across Auckland?' We would like to think ourselves able adopt the latter position, but for some parishes this will be hugely challenging, for example where Sunday attendance is around thirty mostly elderly folk. I think the reality will be a both/and situation. The combination of financial, property and personnel challenges will be too much for some parishes and they will close or amalgamate. Others will have the energy that organisational change and renewal requires, and will do new things innovatively. Churches have been ranked A, B or C, with C being the most precarious. Forrest Hill is a B, but we are by no means without items of prayerful concern. Our neighbourhood is changing, its work patterns, cultures and needs are in flux. The thing is, there is plenty to do maintaining what we already do, as well as the challenging work of re-imagining ourselves in the future. Some concrete examples of need are as follows (yes these are actual upcoming vacancies): Board of Managers (property and finance) and Speakezy (volunteers to teach English). The good thing is we have existing people who can help you learn these ministries. We also need dreamers who can have new ideas to implement, people who love to pray (this is the foundation), and mature Christians to lead spiritually. On the plus side are the exceedingly good relations that have developed among the ministers of the North Shore (Coastal region we call it). There are brothers and sisters out there on the same page as us. This is a shameless awareness-raising piece about the local church, and I would love to talk to you about it. Blessings, Martin.