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Beyond Experience

Something in the now
Somewhere in the next

Beyond Experience is Scripture Union New Zealand's leadership development programme for young adults. The word “experience” often invokes a reflection or opinion about something that has happened. But what does it mean to move beyond that? What could it look like for young leaders to think bigger and to move further?

Our Beyond Experience (BE) leadership development programme seeks to offer experience to young adult leaders in a new way. With the ultimate experiential leader, Jesus Christ, as our facilitator, BE seeks to take the real and sometimes raw leadership opportunities of SUNZ ministries and other organisations to develop one’s own leadership ethos. We want to encourage and shape participants to go ‘beyond experience’ and prepare them to be the future leaders of Aotearoa. What a lofty dream, to have our life-changing, faithforming ministries literally shape the future landscape of our society. We want to see people who are followers of Jesus shaping the very fabric of our nation.

The shape of the BE experience begins with monthly guiding in February, a retreat in April, and opportunities to serve in the field, both with SUNZ and partnering organisations/churches. If you are passionate about growing in the shape of your leadership, committed to learning more from those around you, and keen to join a group of young leaders from across the motu, then we would love to hear from you and have you on board.

Beyond Experience in 2024

We are excited to be journeying with 35 young adults from across Aotearoa this year. Our 2024 Beyond Experience programme will conclude at the end of November.

If you would like more information about Beyond Experience, or are interested in joining us in 2025, please see below for Paul and Beth’s contact details.

Register Here

What does Beyond Experience look like?

The BE experience can be described in 5 parts…

Monthly guiding

We put careful thought into partnering participants with their Kaiārahi for the year. During this process we consider geographical location, leadership journey, personalities, existing connections, and future goals. You might have noticed we have avoided using the term ‘mentor’ and instead embraced the term ‘Kaiārahi’ (guide). This for multiple reasons

  • Participants may already have a mentor and often have high input in choosing a mentor for themselves.
  • This relationship might only be active whilst the participant is part of BE.

The role of Kaiārahi is to guide their BE participant and facilitate and/or debrief leadership experiences to serve as metaphors and representations of wider faith formation, leadership, calling and discernment. Kaiārahi and participants meet each month and discuss a spiritual practice, and a reading or reflection related to leadership. This is also an opportunity to reflect on recent leadership opportunities. We embrace Gallup Clifton Strengths and this forms part of the basis for monthly discussions.

BE Retreat

Each year in late March/early April we have our BE Weekend, which is attended by all BE participants, Kaiārahi and SUNZ field staff. These annual weekends are highly experiential, diving into the life and example of the ultimate experiential educator, Jesus. This is a valuable time of learning and fellowship as everyone involved in BE for the year comes together from across the motu.

Discernment for the future

The question, ‘what is God’s plan for my life?’ can be fraught with fear of failure and uncertainty when it comes to making decisions. BE seeks to embrace the idea of what is a good decision rather than the right decision by recognising that as children of God, there is a good plan.

Opportunities to serve in the field

(with SUNZ and partnering organisations/churches)

Service opportunities are key to the accomplishment of BE. We want to empower and upskill our leaders for the real-world leadership opportunities that they will face. We hope that the ministry we offer can provide real moments of leadership development and faith formation. BE is something in the now for somewhere in the next.

All Day Lunch

All too often in our faith we compartmentalise vocation, faith, relationships, health and more. However, we believe that our faith should be like our skin rather than a jacket that we put on and take off whenever we pray, engage with the Bible, or attend church on Sundays. We seek to have our faith become like our skin and for its presence to be with us all day long. BE seeks to emphasise the intersection of life and faith, rather than viewing these as two facets of our lives that run parallel to each other. Described another way, we could learn a lot from Te Whare Tapa Whā in Te Ao Māori.

Beyond Experience lives itself out in three different expressions...

Tuatahi

Tuatahi is the first year of Beyond Experience and is an opportunity to explore the intersection of life and faith in a safe environment. Guided by their Kaiārahi, participants meet monthly to explore spiritual practices using the book ‘The Hare and the Tortoise’ (published by the Venn Foundation), as well as to open the Bible, pray, and explore practical leadership applications.

Tuarua

For our young adults who have previously experienced Tuatahi, we offer an optional extension to come back for another year. During Tuarua, participants continue to meet monthly with their Kaiārahi to explore the intersection between life and faith, guided by an article each month that examines different real-world examples of this. Tuarua also undertake a small service project, supported by SUNZ, which allows them to express their leadership. This could look like anything from designing a resource to be used on a SUNZ youth camp to completing an NZOIA qualification.

Kindred

Kindred is a stand-alone expression of Beyond Experience. This is an opportunity to supercharge your leadership development, through meeting for weekly discipleship with SUNZ staff and other Kindred participants, exploring spiritual practices, real-world facilitation, and serving as a SUNZ staff member for one day per week. Kindred participants undertake paid ministry work to design and carry out a project that aligns with both their personal interests, and the values of SUNZ.

Young people sometimes face an unenviable situation: they can’t get a job without experience, and they can’t get experience without a job.

But just what is ‘experience’? The word summons up images that someone knows what they are doing: ‘… the experience that she brought…’. It can also invoke a reflection or opinion about the nature of something that happened: “….that was a wonderful experience we had…”.

And what might it mean if someone moved beyond experience? 

Scripture Union New Zealand (SUNZ) is excited to embark on a new ministry opportunity that is best described as moving our young leaders beyond experience. And this is the name of the new SUNZ leadership development programme.

Beyond Experience identifies and invites current and potential future SUNZ ministry and programme leaders on a multiple-year journey. We aim to grow not only leaders for the short-term expressions in SUNZ ministries but well-equipped leaders for the much longer term.

Let me explain what this means. The programme aims to facilitate opportunities throughout the ministries of SUNZ to allow leaders to go beyond experience and prepare them to be the future leaders of Aotearoa New Zealand Society—in business, arts, medicine, politics, education, sports, the church and more. 

Let that sit with you for a moment…

What a lofty dream…. To have our life-changing, faith-forming ministries shape the future landscape of our society. To have people who are followers of Jesus shaping the very fabric of our nation and filling the positions of power that shape policy, law, health and more in this country. And, moreover, to have our Christian faith and the very tenants of Jesus’ life shape decisions at a national level. I believe this could have a long-lasting and evangelical effect on the very social fabric and soul of Aotearoa New Zealand. What an exciting notion to dream about—especially in light of the fact that New Zealand is considered a post-Christian nation. 

Beyond Experience seeks to offer experience for young leaders. Not just to get a job or to serve more effectively in building God’s kingdom while at camp or in their current ministry, but to move beyond the experience of that and onto whatever God has in store for them in the years ahead. It will be a safe place to process the successes and challenges of leadership in the field—whether that be at church, youth group, school or camps—and to grow as a leader. The aim is to set these young people up for the future by equipping them, not only with practised leadership skills but also with a Christ-centred leadership ethos. 

Beyond Experience kicks off next February (postponed from September) with a weekend retreat in Auckland. The funding we have so wonderfully received covers all retreat expenses. We are excited to tell you that there are over 50 leaders coming from across NZ and SUNZ ministries. At the retreat, leaders will be paired with experienced mentors—SUNZ field staff and others who already have a big impact on SUNZ. They will then meet monthly to build a relationship and follow a monthly rhythm and practice of discussing and reflecting on leadership experiences within SUNZ and other ministry contexts. In addition to recurring monthly questions, each month will have a different theme or focus with articles to read and questions for reflection. 

We hope that these young leaders will take these experiences everywhere they go in life, faith and relationships. Beyond Experience strives to use Jesus Christ, the ultimate experiential teacher, as facilitator. In partnership with prayer and Bible engagement we will look beyond what happened to seek the meaning—to move beyond experience and grow as a child of God and become all that God has called them to be. 

We look forward to updating you along the way. Please pray for our guides and our young leaders.

2023 marks the third year of Beyond Experience (BE), SUNZ’s leadership development programme for young adults. This year we are journeying with 36 awesome young leaders from across the motu. Each of them is paired with a Kaiārahi (mentor) who they connect with monthly to discuss readings on a variety of topics through the lens of Christian leadership.

Of our 36 young adults, 16 of them are on this journey for a 2nd time, having elected to come back this year after being a part of BE in 2022. Our 2nd Years have been busy dreaming and ideating about a small service project that they can undertake for SUNZ that aligns with their individual passions and the needs of the organisation.

This year we launched BE Kindred which provides an opportunity for participants to explore various aspects of Christian leadership more deeply on a weekly basis, undertake theological study, and work for SUNZ one day a week. Our participants this year are Imogen McQueen and Jack Wilson, both of whom are working with the SUNZ Camps team. We are grateful for all that they have contributed to SUNZ in the short time that they have been with us.

A highlight of our year is always the annual BE Retreat. At the end of April, a 64-strong contingent met at El Rancho in Waikanae for a packed weekend full of Bible engagement, leadership-centered workshops, and fellowship. Our theme for the weekend was ‘The Generosity of Leadership’ and we explored this in the context of Romans 12. We also participated in some creation care of the Waikanae River and estuary under the leadership of long-time SUNZ supporter and chairperson of the Waikanae Estuary Care Group, Robin Gunston. Other highlights of the weekend included the SUNZ Kapiti Coast prayer group joining us for lunch on the Saturday, and a fun camp-wide Alternative Olympics themed event.

If you would like more information about Beyond Experience, please contact Paul or Beth.

Paul Humphreys - National Leadership Facilitator
paul.humphreys@sunz.org.nz
0275203513

Beth Coates - Leadership Development Administrator
beth.coates@sunz.org.nz
0211161466

Beyond Experience 2024

February 26th - 29th November

BE retreat starts April 5th - 7th
Register Now

The word “experience” often invokes a reflection or opinion about what happened. But what does it mean to move beyond that? What could it look like for young leaders to think bigger and to move further?

When people hear the word “experience”, it usually has other words wrapped around it. We focus on the experience that someone brought, or the wonderful experience we had. It invokes a reflection or an opinion about what happened. But what would it mean if someone moved beyond that?

Our leadership specific ministry at Scripture Union New Zealand (SUNZ) is named Beyond Experience (BE). This is designed to offer experience to young leaders and push them to move beyond that. Participants will have various opportunities throughout the ministries of SUNZ and others where they can grow in their leadership ethos. We are preparing them to be the future leaders of Aotearoa—in business, arts, medicine, politics, education, sports, the church, and more. What a lofty dream to have our life-changing, faith-forming ministries go on to shape the future landscape of our society. Having people who are followers of Jesus shaping the very fabric of our nation.

Beyond Experience identifies and invites current and potential future SUNZ ministry and programme leaders on a multiple-year journey. We aim to grow not only leaders for the short-term expressions in SUNZ ministries but well-equipped leaders for the much longer term. Through growing leaders who come from different faith communities, we intend to support these communities and churches across the country.

Our Beyond Experience ministry seeks to offer experience to young leaders in a new way. Through facilitating opportunities throughout the ministries of SUNZ and others, we want to encourage and shape participants to go Beyond Experience and prepare them to be the future leaders of Aotearoa.

With the ultimate experiential leader Jesus Christ as our facilitator Beyond Experience (BE) seeks to take the real and sometimes raw opportunities of SUNZ ministries and others to develop one’s own leadership ethos.

If you are passionate about growing in the shape of your leadership, committed to learn more from those around you, and keen to join a group of young leaders across the motu, then we would love to hear from you and have you as a part of BE 2024!

Beyond Experience is a safe place to process the successes and challenges of leadership in the field—whether that be at church, youth group, school, or camps—and to grow as a leader. Through specific practices and initiatives which we have running throughout the year, participants are equipped with not only leadership skills but also a Christ-centered leadership ethos.

This ministry is of organic nature, and we aim to allow for flexibility for participants. We believe BE has a life-long nature where participants will continue to be formed for years to come.

There are four key parts that participants will experience within one year of our program:le-click this text to edit it.

Our BE ministry begins in February (kick-off week Feb 26th - March 3rd). The BE retreat is typically held in April (the dates for 2024 retreat are April 5th – 7th). This will be the first space for new participants to meet more of the SUNZ and BE whānau and is therefore a mandatory part of this ministry for any participant or kaiārahi.

The retreat will consist of different workshops, seminars, games, and discussions, with the aim of learning through experience. We will dive into the life and example of the ultimate experiential educator—Jesus Christ. During the weekend, BE participants will be partnered with a kaiārahi (guide) for the year. They will meet monthly after the retreat.

You might have noticed we have avoided using the term mentors. Instead embracing the term kaiārahi or guide. We sensed this for several reasons:

  • Participants may already have a mentor.
  • This relationship might only be active for one year.
  • People often have a lot of input on who their mentor is.

We see the role(s) of kaiārahi or guides as just that—guiding and facilitating the experiences to serve as metaphors and representations of wider faith formation, leadership, calling and discernment.

(SUNZ and partnering organizations/churches)

This is key to the accomplishment of BE. Through the various ministries we have at SUNZ along with other partnering organization and churches, participants will have opportunities to serve in the field. They will be able to use these real-world opportunities and teachable moments to grow in their leadership, or more simply put, let the experience speak for itself.

During participants’ time with BE, we hope that the experiences they have will provide clarity for their future career and calling. They will frequently be considering “what is God’s plan for my life?”, which can often be fraught with fear of failure, uncertainty, and decision paralysis. BE seeks to embrace the idea of making a good decision rather than the right decision. We recognize that we children of God, there is a good plan.

BE Programme extra material.

Strength Finders Video 

Marty's Journey from Talent to Strength

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