Living well isn’t always easy or obvious. Our everyday lives of relating, planning, working, and doing, call for countless decisions about what is good and right. Should I pursue further education or take the next step up the career ladder? How do I do the best for my family or friends? Should I wait or act? Say something or stay quiet? Be loyal or angry?
Each decision confronts us with certain questions: How do I make good decisions? What does the wise life look like? The Venn Vocational Programme is designed to help you wrestle with these questions.
The Vocational Programme is designed for people in their late 20s to late 40s. It is for people who have been in the workforce for some time or have experienced postgraduate study, and who want to get better at navigating life’s challenges and questions.
It is for people who are committed to following Jesus in the world, and who desire to think deeply and grow in their faith alongside others.
You will join a cohort of people who hunger for a deep relationship with God and want to live out their vocations well in a complex world.
We understand that home and work life can place pressure on your time and energy. With this in mind, the Vocational Programme is designed to be welcoming, life-giving, creative, and varied. The delicious food and wine and beautiful setting are a key part of the learning environment.
We learn best from others—their insights, questions, and experiences. During the Vocational Programme you will join a group of eight people from diverse work and life backgrounds to explore together what it means to live wisely. Each programme is limited to a maximum of three small groups.
The programme has a two part intensive teaching block.
The first looks at The Wise Life and seeks to answer questions such as, What is wisdom? How do I become wise? What shape does a wise life take? In what ways can Scripture help me live wisely?
The second focuses on Navigating Wise Courses of Action. Here we ask, How do we make wise decisions amidst the complexity of life?
At the conclusion of the eight-week intensive, we follow up with three dinners at monthly intervals.
All up, the programme will require around five hours each week, which includes reading and reflection, as well as the dinner conversation and teaching. The three non-residential weekend retreats are in addition to this.
The Vocational Programme core teaching team consists of Dr. Nathan McLellan, Michelle Young, Dr. John Dennison, and Andrew Shamy.
Nathan is motivated by a deep desire to see people encounter the depth and richness of the Christian faith and to live this out. He worked as an economist for six years at the New Zealand Treasury, before moving to Vancouver with his wife Bronwyn to study theology at Regent College. He has also worked as a consultant to businesses and not-for-profit organisations.
During his time at Regent, Nathan joined the Marketplace Institute, where he started and led a residential internship and contributed to the development of other programmes, including ReFrame – a course designed to help people integrate their Christian faith and life. His time in Vancouver was followed by further study at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, where he earned a Ph.D. in Christian Ethics.
In 2015, Nathan became Venn Foundation’s CEO. Nathan and Bronwyn now live in Auckland with their two energetic boys, Jonathan and Caleb, who are slowly losing their American accents! Nathan teaches on the Vocational Programme Auckland and Wellington.
John Dennison is passionate about helping others to make room for God, to learn to pray as well as think and work. He lives in Wellington with his wife, Jannah, and their three sons, Theo, Emmaus, and Blythe. For more than a decade he has pursued a strong sense of calling to serve God in the University.
Initially he pursued an academic career, studying English Literature and Theology in New Zealand before completing a PhD at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. That research resulted in a book, Seamus Heaney and the Adequacy of Poetry (Oxford, 2015). On returning to New Zealand, he gradually (and with some lamentation!) accepted God’s call to serve with the Anglican Church as a Chaplain at Victoria University, where he has a particular responsibility for the mission to university staff.
He’s also a poet, and always curious about the role of language and imagination in our relationship with God. His first collection of poems, Otherwise, was published by Auckland University Press and Carcanet Press in 2015. John teaches on the Vocational Programme Wellington.
Michelle Young spent her early years in the small rural town of Paeroa on the edge of the Hauraki Plains. She moved to Whangarei where she completed her schooling, before heading to Auckland to embark on a degree in Geography. The formation of societies, patterns of life, and the shaping of culture all intrigued her, and saw her fitting in papers on Psychology, Theology, and Māori where possible.
After graduating, Michelle travelled overseas and joined those working in the global church. When she returned she worked in her local church for five years, while completing a graduate diploma in Theology. She then managed a non-profit trust in South Auckland working with those on the margins of society.
Michelle joined Venn at its establishment in September 2013 and currently serves as a Teaching Fellow and the Director of Summer Conference and Public Events. She also serves on the vestry at St Paul’s Symonds Street and is currently continuing her Theological studies through Regent College, Vancouver.
Andrew is committed to helping people live out their faith creatively and authentically in every area of life. He graduated from the University of Canterbury with a BA (Hons) in American Studies, before working as a public policy researcher. In 2005, Andrew moved to Vancouver to study toward a Master of Arts in Theology at Regent College.
Upon graduation, Andrew moved back to Auckland to work for Compass Foundation, during which time he co-authored The Insect and the Buffalo and The Hare and the Tortoise. He has developed curricula for the Venn Summer Conference, the Venn Residential Fellowship, and now the Venn Vocational Programme.
Andrew joined Venn Foundation as a Senior Teaching Fellow in 2014. He is married to Rachel Kitchens and they live in Auckland with their two daughters, Ella and Georgia, and son, James. Andrew teaches on the Vocational Programme Auckland.
The Vocational Programme is held in Auckland and Wellington.
There are three weekend retreats at the beginning, middle, and end of each intensive and the teaching evenings are held once a week over the eight-weeks. Following the conclusion of the intensive, we invite the cohort back for three, monthly follow-up conversations.
$1,250 PER PERSON
$2,000 COUPLE W CHILDREN*
This includes all meals, materials, and resources.
*One of our key emphases is relationship, so we want to remove as many barriers as possible for married couples to participate in the VVP together. Recognising the additional burden of childcare, we offer a discounted rate for married couples with children who require childcare.
Location to be confirmed
Location to be confirmed