Church and Culture


As the editors of Stimulus, we seek to hold a balance between highlighting real life issues that impact Christians, and bringing to light areas of scholarship that open paths for new thinking. 

Sometimes scholarship can be esoteric, or peripheral, and yet the ideas contained in them can ripple into our ordinary lives, opening up new avenues and fresh ideas about living out Christian faith. In our first online issue, we hope to have kept that balance. This edition focuses on culture, and particularly on the challenges of adaptation within sectors of the church to diverse communities and socio-cultural issues such as poverty and social change.

In the first article, Dr. Terry Pouono – a father, soccer team manager, and minister within the CCCS (Congregational Christian Church Samoa) – makes a clear call for renewal within the CCCS. He acknowledges the value of the CCCS as preserving a fixed Christian Samoan identity, which provides a sense of shelter and home for Samoan Christians in New Zealand. However, he also raises a challenge for the need for adaptation, as well as preservation; for the church to continue to connect with social issues in the 21st century to be a radical force for the gospel. He speaks up for creativity as well as tradition, for honouring the past but also looking outward, to impact society for good. He argues for “traditions in motion”, and “the need to incorporate innovation and weave it into a culture’s identity.”

Then, Rev. Dr. Emma Keown, completes her two articles on the challenges of being “of one accord” and “one people” as a church. She responds to the challenges of dwelling together as a multi-cultural church in an increasingly diverse, multicultural New Zealand. She argues that while the biblical mandate to “love our neighbour” is clear, living this out authentically requires both thinking and commitment. She argues that “generally speaking the Multi Ethnic Church (MEC) is better suited to life in the twenty first century” because within a diverse multicultural context such as Auckland for example, monocultural churches have set life span. Keown gives an overview and a review of eight different models of multi-cultural church. She offers a personal reflection on has been useful within her own experience as a church pastor. Keown raises a number of challenges for churches, both now and in the future, in how they respond to the diversity of modern New Zealand.

Finally, Professor Paul Moon writes about post-secularism. A nation goes forward on its history. The last decade of the twentieth century coincided with the rise of secularism in approaches to writing the history of New Zealand. According to Moon, secularism, in its fear of religion and the dismissal of what is not concrete and quantifiable, led to the downplaying of the role of missionaries in Aotearoa New Zealand’s formation. Moon points to a quiet rediscovering of the contribution of Christianity in New Zealand’s history both as a public force for good and a private faith. Moon sees this moving beyond secularism in some areas of historical study maps Christianity’s real role in New Zealand’s history and New Zealander’s lives.

In thinking of the future, as editors, we wish to continue to develop and expand Stimulus. This edition sees the launch of the new online platform. It will retain the existing features of Stimulus as you have known it, including the ever popular film review and St Imulus. It will also feature new directions, such as original poetry and a Ministry Corner, which in this edition has an interview with Nigel Webb, who is about to embark on new opportunities in South America .

Do let us know what you think by emailing:  

Sarah Penwarden is co-editor of Stimulus and a lecturer in the Counselling Programme in Laidlaw's School of Social Practice.