By Brian Kenning,
Invercargill Central Baptist Pastor
In 1999 our church, Invercargill Central Baptist, repackaged what we were doing in our evening service and launched Night Church. At the time I, the senior pastor, was the initiator.
I prepared a discussion paper setting out the dream for Night Church and invited people to an evening to discuss the way ahead. The 35 people who attended became the core of four teams that formed the basis for Night Church – contemporary music, creative ministries, life-issues messages and café.As a seeker-friendly and youth and young adult focused service, it has been effective as both an outreach and discipleship event. However a couple of years ago it began to feel tired. A number of reviews failed to recognise anything we were doing wrong but the numbers attending were decreasing and the life and momentum of previous years was lacking.
Against this background, early in 2009, four highly creative and energetic young adults approached the pastoral team to discuss Night Church. They sensed the malaise but instead of walking away they wanted to be part of the way ahead. This began a journey of dreaming, sharing, praying, breakfast meetings at McDonalds and small but significant changes. They have led to greater participation and ownership by youth and young adults and signs that, instead of being an event, Night Church is becoming an expression of an emerging faith community.
These changes happened quite differently to the changes 11 years ago. Back then I was the initiator with a dream that others were invited to share. And they did. And it worked.
This time I’ve often found myself on a journey with no idea where we are going. Instead of being the initiator I find myself as the facilitator, a wiser old head, a permission-giver journeying alongside passionate, creative young adults, loving their company and their enthusiasm.
The Night Church journey is just one example of how my leadership style has needed to adapt over 35 years of ministry. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a time and a place for initiative, but these days leading with diligence is much more about partnership, team building, wise counsel and nurturing a culture that allows others to give their best for God.