In New Zealand we evidently have over 2800 endangered species. Only 250 of these species have “active interventions” in place. This is because it is about picking winners. According to the New Zealand Herald, “Whether a species is protected depends on funding, community input, national identity and research.”
In our recent discussions across the diocese concerning our “hole in our bucket,” the lack of families amongst our faith communities is a noticeable leakage. I wonder how the Department of Conservation might describe this. Perhaps they’d say that our kids have become an endangered species: rare sightings, dwindling numbers, they’re vulnerable, impacted and in need of recovery.
So, if we’re to apply a conservation lens, what do we see?
Is this a species we’ve put on our ‘active intervention’ list? In other words, do we believe this area of focus is worth the investment when there might be hundreds of other areas to focus on?
Does our ‘funding, community input and identity’ reflect this kaupapa or vision? What does the research show about the importance of having kids in church?
I do not hesitate to advocate for kids, which I think is necessary in an often adult-dominant space like the church. There is a saying “we are better together” when it comes to Intergenerationality, the picture of a wider family gathering where young and old benefit from each other. But how many of us actively portray that towards our tamariki?
As I visit the various spaces across our diocese where families and kids are gathering I am HUGELY encouraged. Families are here, but they need protecting.
Did you know we have parishes gathering intergenerationally? Intermediate aged groups hanging out. Intentional faith building kids programmes that meet on a Sunday morning. Pre-school community music ministries (some with over 20 tots attending!). Family missional communities. Mums’ support coffee & play groups and many more. There are sightings but they need us!
We have wonderful team leaders investing in these ministries that can grow, flourish and recover with your support. It will take some generosity, some accommodating of others and some sacrifices … just like the nurturing of the kakapo species.
I challenge you to weigh up how much you value this endangered species and to consider your community’s urgency, funding, input and identity. And ultimately, to actively intervene!
We have invited these writers to share their experiences, ideas and opinions in the hope that these will provoke thought, challenge you to go deeper and inspire you to put your faith into action. These articles should not be taken as the official view of the Nelson Diocese on any particular matter.