Get Prepared

Alcohol can be a sensitive issue in church as it links to its consequences such as intoxication, violence and sexual abuse.

Please take into account of both the biblical and religious context around alcohol 
as these are the core beliefs and values of every churches.
You also need to understand and appreciate the importance of those beliefs and mission of a church.

 Health promotion programmes delivered in Pacific church setting are recommended [see here, here, and here] to:

  • be culturally appropriate and holistic; 
  • be flexible in term of design inorder to cater for the diverse needs of Pacific ethnic groups; 
  • be based on the stories and narratives that are integral to the life of each Pacific community; 
  • have a working partnership between Pacific communities and service providers/government;
  • take into account the wide range of harms created by alcohol misuse in the Pacific community; 
  • involve consultation with the whole Pacific community, including church and community leaders and youth.

As drinking may not be sanctioned by the church, it is important to take this into account.

It has been found that there can be big differences in relation to views around alcohol - some church members see it as a way to enjoy themselves whilst others may feel guilty and uncomfortable about drinking alcohol.

Consider the following when developing programmes within churches [see here, here and here]:

Meet the need of diverse Pacific ethnic groups  

  • Involve key leaders, youth leaders and other ministers involved
  • Identify parties concerned and parties affected
  • Map out the cultural, spiritual and social context (check out the Fonua model)
  • Identify and apply related values
  • enable community to deliver at least part of the programme so that autonomy. This can enhance their leadership skills and improve sustainability
  • Some Pacific-only churches have multiple Pacific Island groups. Therefore, understand the key language(s) used in this church.

An everything-on-the-table approach

  • Leadership, communication and relationship-building are key elements for successful church-based health promotion programmes.  
  • Involve consultation with the whole community, including church and community leaders and youth. This should be done in the planning phase of a programme before launching/delievering the programme.
  • Involve churches in recruitment of the participants.

Ensure that the activities do not lead to self-doubt and negative outcome such as guilt and depression.

Provide life-skills education and support to enhance motivation, self-management and strengthen church community relationships.

  • If the programme incorporates people already in the church who might have skills/background in key areas, this would add more 'ownership' for churches into this programme.

Develop ongoing plans so that the programme as a long-term future.

Review and reflect on progress.  

Although Pacific communities are commonly defined by the collective term - Pacific or Pacific peoples - every Pacific community is likely to be different

The common Pacific ethnicities in New Zealand are: Samoan, Cook Island Maori, Tongan, Niuean, Fijian, Tokelauan and Tuvaluan. Each group comprises their own sets of cultural norms, customs, languages values and lifestyles.

Pacific people from their island of origin may hold different views and have different lifestyles to those who were born in New Zealand. According to Census 2018, 66.4% of NZ Pacific population were born in New Zealand.

The different religious backgrounds among Pacific peoples often means that there are large differences in alcohol consumption and views relating to alcohol.