Population: 4.93 million (2018)
Official language: English, Te Reo Maori, New Zealand Sign Language
Major religion: Christianity & 'No Religion'
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 ten years which gives them more capacity 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
Ben Carswell is the National Director for TSCF. He is excited by the opportunities for students across New Zealand: “We are committed to ‘reaching students for Christ, changing students for life’. In a country that has whole-heartedly embraced secularism and is rapidly abandoning any connection to its Christian heritage, we have the opportunity to introduce students to Jesus so they encounter Him for the first time. Our tagline in Te Reo Maori reads “He akonga ki nga akonga hei ara whakawhiti mo to Karaiti”, which means ‘A bridge over which students meet Christ’. Our desire is that TSCF is a place where students meet Jesus and is a means to them going on in Him beyond their student years. It is an immense privilege to be involved in this work.”
- 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.