A small-groups initiative is bringing people to Jesus in New Zealand’s southern island.
Known as “Households of Faith”, the initiative is thriving in the central region, where there are fourteen active groups, three groups about to launch, and six more in the planning stage. The groups, comprising between three and seven members, meet regularly in their homes to connect, study the Bible, and share their faith. The aim is to invite new friends, share the love of Jesus, and win them for His kingdom.
Overseeing the initiative is Pastor Siaosi Halisi Kei, lead pastor for the Timaru, Oamaru, and Ashburton churches. He visits with the various groups to pray with them, answer questions, and offer support, resources, and guidance where needed. Each group moves at its own pace and develops its own culture and focus.
“Aspects that groups do have in common include the adoption of Discovery Bible Reading and/or using the SOAP (Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer) method when in Scripture,” Pastor Halisi Kei said. “One of our new groups chooses not to attend church every Sabbath; they choose to operate in the community, seeking out people who are willing to hear their testimony of how God has changed their lives.”
According to Pastor Halisi Kei, there are a number of reasons why the initiative is flourishing.
“They all agree that meeting and growing through small groups is a biblical model,” he said. “They know they are learners and are willing to grow.”
The groups are well-supported by local and conference leadership and understand they are part of a shared vision. Church planting becomes possible by using small groups as the foundation.
Pastor Halisi Kei said Zoom has become an important tool, “especially considering our territory and the distance of travel, lockdown restrictions, other commitments of leaders, and convenience of people being able to meet from their homes.
“Training leaders over Zoom has also allowed for leaders from across all of the churches in our region to learn together and support each other.
“We currently have four active groups on Zoom, and one is about to be introduced.”
Future plans include getting the groups to lead church services in the region once a month.
“This will include testimonies and stories, bringing ministry to life in the church as a way to encourage new ways of thinking and extend the invitation for others to become involved in what we are doing,” Pastor Halisi Kei said. “We are also planning on holding a regional meeting each year for small groups to come together to be encouraged, trained, and equipped, and to celebrate what God is doing in our territory.”