Wanganui Central Baptist Church's new pastor Nigel Irwin has a vision of filling the central city auditorium at every church service.
At 32, Reverend Irwin says he is the new wave of ministers graduating with a Bachelor degree in Applied Theology from Carey College in Auckland.
He joined the ministry at the age of 29 from a business background. When the recession hit, it was a time of reflection of the value he placed on his life, he said. At 29, and with his Christian background as a guide, he went back to study which has set him on a journey to help his congregation find spiritual fulfillment.
Reverend Irwin arrived in Wanganui from Auckland with wife Suzanna to take up the ministry in November, and he says they are huge advocates for their new home town.
"Wanganui is a really great place and this church has been one of the mainstays."
This year the Baptist Church celebrates 130 years in Wanganui.
Rev Irwin has found the church congregation to be in good spirits and he has sensed that there is a great respect for it in the Wanganui community.
"There is enormous potential for the church to have a significant role in the community." People were chronically aware there was a void in their existence, and the church had the greater purpose where life and hope met, he said.
The church community was made up of all generations and while he wants to focus on rebuilding the youth sector, the elderly with wisdom and experience had much to offer.
His youthfulness speaks of moving with the times, and his role to try and help the church to see itself as a vibrant place.
To bring vibrancy through colour, Reverend Irwin plans to brighten the auditorium with cushions and bean bags for the young people to lounge in.
Another important group in the church was the Maori congregation and Reverend Irwin said there was a need to identify with Maori and Ratana.
The church has made valuable contributions to the Wanganui community through its SKIP programme and the Parents' Centre on Wicksteed St, to which he credits the passion and energy of Royce Dewe.
It also runs a craft club on a Friday morning.
All of these links to the community are what pushes his buttons, Reverend Irwin said.