Population: 4.4 million (2011)
Official language: English
Major religion: Christianity
IFES movement: Tertiary Students' Christian Fellowship (TSCF)
New Zealand is considered one of the most secular countries in the world. However some would argue there is increasing spiritual curiosity - although few think they will find the answers in what they perceive as Christianity. Christianity is quite strong among the Maori, the indigenous people.
- 31 tertiary institutions
- TSCF groups in all 8 universities and 5 institutes of technology
- 20 full-time, 5 part-time, around 10 volunteers
- developing graduates ministry called ‘Catalyst’
- ‘transition’ events for high school students about to begin tertiary study
- smallest groups have 2-5 students
TSCF celebrates that there are students at each university centre who have come to faith over the past year. Students are applying their creativity to reach other students with the gospel. They also rejoice that the staff team has trebled in size over the past five years which gives them more ability to support student initiatives.
However, most staff are underfunded. In addition to this there is an increasing fragmentation of campuses and online learning has meant that it is becoming harder to gather students together - the result is more but smaller groups across most campuses and cities.
View from the inside
Val Goold is Head of Student Ministries for TSCF. She is inspired by stories of the resourcefulness of the fledgling movement in New Zealand: ‘Our first ever “national” conference is reported to have occurred in Wellington during the Depression when there was little money. Students were encouraged to compete in their local university athletics competitions as those placed in the first three in each event were sent to Wellington to the national games. So the first TSCF conference occurred at the cost of the universities themselves and as a result of students’ creativity and hard work!’
Val adds, ‘The verses that shape our internship programme are Psalm 92:12-15.’ These verses tell of how ‘the righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God.’
- that students will continue to have the courage to be creative in their outreach, despite smaller group sizes;
- for ministry among indigenous students to develop;
- for increased financial provision.