Spoiler alert! I’m a fan of Carey Baptist College.

After completing my B App Theology, mostly by distance, I made a decision to audit a block course every year to keep my brain alive, to be in the classroom, and to mingle with pastoral leadership students coming through. Being a practitioner rather than a theologian, I love to the chance to think differently and throw a new light on the activities of ministry.

It’s not hard to have favourite lecturers, so when I realised that papers in the second semester weren’t going to match my ‘travel schedule’ (hard to believe we had such things), I spied Mick Duncan’s ‘Reaching Your Community’; I was in. Actually, this was the second time I had audited this paper but given it’s my area of ministry interest, I figured second time would be a good option.

Mick did not disappoint. What did I love?

That Mick loves the local church. He’s passionate about seeing the local church be all it was designed to be; an authentic community of believers, highly attractive because of the character and chemistry of all who consider they belong. It’s refreshing when people who have been around mission and ministry for a while still champion church, identifying that it’s not perfect but keen to see it be fruitful.

As the leader of mainly music internationally, I love the local church too. As an organisation, we want to serve the local church. I’m always encouraged when I find those who don’t knock the imperfections but instead uphold what it can be.

That through Mick’s example, Carey is not afraid to bring the difficult and controversial ‘stuff’ into discussion times for students. In this paper, there were conflicting opinions brought forward by Mick. How refreshing. In other words, don’t just think one way; wrestle with what theologians are tabling.

Viewing topics from various sides of the theological spectrum keeps us sharp. Over this past year, the Leadership Team of mainly music are wrestling with the ever changing landscape of family and society. We are keen to not use one vein of thought, and keep our minds open as we navigate through and respond.

The vulnerability of a person, that is, Mick, who has worked through extreme lows and highs of ministry, identifying the intersections of unmerited grace. Mike spoke of how to process these highs and lows, with clarity of learning. Serving long term in ministry isn’t for the faint hearted. We know that from how we are travelling in these Covid times. Even dealing with the experiences others go through and then look to us, as leaders, to walk alongside them can be daunting. Let alone experiencing lows and highs personally.

As well as other life experiences, having been faced with the loss of my husband to cancer in 2018, I know these lows. Working through grief with a knowledge God has been with me, carrying not only me, but my family and our staff teams, enriches what it means to be in ministry. It is comforting to hear the stories of others who have gone through times of grief and loss with God, knowing that He is omnipresent and being focused on reaching the other side (whatever that is) well. In our on-line gatherings, students opened themselves up to this vulnerability and we were all enriched. Kia kaha.

Reaching Your Community included input on that e word that seems to have been dropped in many church environments – ‘evangelism’. I found it refreshing that Carey was prepared to champion something that appears to be unfashionable.

Without a focus on revealing Jesus, I believe that mainly music and mainly play have the possibility of turning into a ‘nice community service’. Plenty of times I remind teams that we cannot be nice people doing nice things. Revealing Jesus in all we do ensures people have the chance to consider who He is and the hope He offers.

As mainly music celebrates its 30th anniversary since commencing at Hills Church (aka Hillsborough Baptist), we are indebted to Carey Baptist College.

The years of my part-time study, in the classroom and by distance, has shaped our organisation. Stand outs were Introduction to Pastoral Care, which sparked material for teams to draw from; thanks to Brian Krum. The Church in NZ Society seeded the Excluded Communities Initiative where mainly music and mainly play sessions are provided to those excluded from attending mainstream sessions through poverty or location; thanks to Mick Duncan. And now, Reaching Your Community, again I find myself realising that God is calling mainly music into some new ways to serve the local church. Watch this space. When you see mainly Ministries, you’ll know how it started.

Written by Jo Hood

Jo is the International CEO of mainly music. She would recommend every pastor audits the Reaching Your Community paper as part of professional development, keeping current, and remaining excited about the joys of revealing Jesus.