The Wisdom Programme is for people who desire to live a wise life, to truly live well.
Join us in Spring as we discern the shape of the wise life.



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. Wisdom is the art of living well amidst the complexity of life. Over three non-residential weekend retreats, participants of the Wisdom Programme are immersed in Scripture, prayer, rich-teaching, and conversation around what it means to live a wise life. Together we will ask, What does the wise life look like? How might we grow in wisdom? How can we pay attention well? How do we make wise decisions?


It’s for people in their late 20s, 30s, and 40s, who are committed to following Jesus in the world, and want to get better at navigating life’s challenges and questions.


    • Join a group of passionate and thoughtful people who want to grow in the Christian life
    • Think deeply about wisdom, the shape of a wise life, and how to navigate wise courses of action
    • Develop a personal Pattern of Life to assist you in living wisely and well in your current season
    • Learn to read Scripture for wisdom
    • Work actively to develop skills for wise decision-making
    • Eat amazing food!


The Wisdom Programme teaching team consists of Rev Dr Nathan McLellan, Michelle Young, and Dr John Dennison


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, Summer Conference, Residential Fellowship, and the Wisdom Programme.


Originally from Paeroa and the daughter of pastors, Michelle grew up in a family who were deeply embedded in the local community. She finished her schooling in Whangarei and moved to Auckland to study Geography at the University of Auckland. After graduating, Michelle worked in her local church for five years, completed a Graduate Diploma in Theology, and managed a non-profit trust in South Auckland.


She joined Venn at its inception in September 2013 and has held various roles in the organisation as the work has grown to what it is today. She currently serves as the Director of Summer Conference and Public Events, and as a Teaching Fellow. Michelle teaches on the Residential Fellowship, Summer Conference, and the Wisdom Programme.


Michelle sits on Vestry at St Paul’s Symonds Street.


John 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 Summer Conference, Vocational Programme, and the Wisdom Programme.



The Wisdom Programme will be held over three non-residential weekend retreats in Ōtautahi/Christchurch.


Retreat One

Friday 27 August: 6:30pm-9:30pm
Saturday 28 August: 8:30am-5:00pm
Sunday 29 August: 8:30am-5:00pm


Retreat Two

Saturday 11 September: 8:30am-5:00pm
Sunday 12 September: 8:30am-5:00pm


Retreat Three

Saturday 16 October: 8:30am-5:00pm
Sunday 17 October: 8:30am-5:00pm






This includes all meals, materials, and resources.


Upon acceptance onto the programme, we’ll ask for a $200 deposit to confirm your place. If needed, we are happy to arrange weekly, fortnightly, and monthly payment plans. Please feel free to get in touch with the Venn team to discuss some of the options available.


*One of our key emphases is relationship, so we want to remove as many barriers as possible for married couples to participate on the Wisdom Programme together. Recognising the additional burden of childcare, we offer a discounted rate for married couples with children who require childcare.


Saints of Tai Tapu

68 Lincoln Tai Tapu Rd.

Tai Tapu 7672

Ōtautahi / Christchurch

Apply now for Ōtautahi/Christchurch