Welcome Church Office Team Updates & Values

A Welcome hug from Deano
Welcome Hug from Deano

On Monday this week we welcomed Mark Caldeira to our staff team as an Operations Manager. He already feels like part of the family to us, and is proving to be an asset.

Mark’s first challenge was to build his own desk, a task he handled superbly (ably assisted by Bruno). You can read more about Mark and Alverna and how they came to be with us by following this link.

On Sunday, Vinu Paul from Commission India will be preaching at Welcome Church in our morning meetings and also ministering at our Encounter meeting in the evening. Vinu was Mark and Alverna’s Pastor back in India, and also Mark’s ‘boss’, so we’re hoping Vinu’s visit will help them to feel right at home. Who knows, maybe Vinu will bring a list of jobs for Mark to do? 🙂

Our office team with Alice (but minus Darren, Mark and Anna)

On Tuesday (in honour of someone’s recent birthday) Alice Potter brought in her speciality “Mississippi Mud Pie” as a treat for the team.

This was a long delayed moment! It was originally planned for March 2020, but Covid lockdown prevented it. In March ’21 we were still working from home. In March ’22 most of the team were actually ill with Covid, including me. This year we succeeded. We’re hoping for a repeat in ’24, but who knows what might happen by then??

A big thank you from the whole Office Team, both staff and volunteers, to Alice for her persistence and for her awesome Mud Pie. If you’ve never had it, we’d recommend it.

8 Big Values

As a team we’ve spent some time recently talking about the sort of environment we want to work in and the team culture we want to create. After a lot of honest and passionate debate, and much collaborative and faith-filled discussion we settled on 8 BIG VALUES .

The highly talented and servant-hearted Juliet has turned this into a piece of art, using our Welcome Church branding. It’s been applied to the office wall next to where we have our team meetings, which is a great reminder and helps us hold one another accountable for living them out.

Here it is. Please feel free to pop in and have a look:

As a team we want to be:


This is about how we treat one another. It’s about how we work together. It’s about how we want the people we serve to experience us as a team. You can see some other words written around the 8 BIG VALUES, which add description to them.

We may not get it right all the time, but this is what we’re aspiring towards.

As we live out these values we’re aiming to do the best work of our lives, here at Welcome Church … and why wouldn’t we want to do that?

Let me encourage us all, as a church, towards two things:

  1. Please encourage us where you see us put these values into action. That would be a great way of honouring someone for their hard work.
  2. Why not also model these 8 BIG VALUES in the areas of church life where YOU serve? Creating a caring environment makes all the difference.

One more thing: these are Biblical values – they weren’t just chosen at random. We took time as a team to build a clear Biblical foundation for each value, though I won’t post that work here.

These values reflect something of the heart of God towards us, and His character as revealed to us in Jesus. As we live out our faith in Jesus day by day, these values should come out in how we treat one another in every area of life. Perhaps they’d make a great list of values for your life, your family and your work place too.

Growing To The Next Level

Some from our Welcome Church team have been in Peterborough this week at an event called ‘Growing To The Next Level’, and it’s been a huge blessing.

The focus was on “Missional Expansion”.

Some highlights:

Dave Smith from Kingsgate Church in Peterborough kicked off the event talking about Isaiah 54v2-3 (from The Message translation), “Clear lots of ground for your tents! Make your tents large. Spread out! Think big! Use plenty of rope, drive the tent pegs deep. You’re going to need lots of elbow room for your growing family. You’re going to take over whole nations; you’re going to resettle abandoned cities”. This set the scene for the whole event, pointing us to God’s heart for His Kingdom to expand as we build Holy Spirit filled churches who are on fire with evangelism and bring transformation to our communities.

Darlene Zschech from Hillsong Australia spoke about God’s heart for mission from Isaiah 61/Luke 4: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor …”. She talked about how encountering Jesus in worship transforms us from the inside out so that we start to express Jesus’ heart in our lives, which includes caring for those in need. She explained how true worship flows over into doing good to others, and highlighted the importance of all we do as churches to serve the community, especially those in need. (Let me encourage you to get involved with that in some way, if you’re not already).

Josh Howard from India talked about the growth they’ve seen, with 16,000 churches planted since 2015. They are a ‘house church’ movement, so their approach is very different from ours and not one we feel called to adopt, but we can learn from their ‘principles’ whilst applying them contextually within our own calling as a church – and there was lots for us to learn from him! Josh talked about how God doesn’t NEED us (we are not the saviour) but that we need to know that God does WANT us, and will work through us (which is our privilege). Josh called us all to think beyond addition towards multiplication, and we all left his talk with a desire to look way beyond what we currently see and have vision for. It was a clear call to think much bigger and have faith for a whole lot more.

Rachel Gardner from Youthscape called us to face up to the reality of living in a ‘post-Christian’ nation, where we are surrounded by people who KNOW FOR SURE that “Christianity is irrelevant, implausible, oppressive and powerless” whilst they actually know almost nothing about real Christianity. She challenged us about the need to “recover our mission” and find fresh ways to proclaim the Kingdom of God that address the culture we actually live in today. Our “Belong, Believe, Become” approach is something we’ve already done towards this, but there is much more we can do.

Other highlights from our time away included some fantastic worship and ministry times, some great seminars, and a lot of fun had together as a team.

The event was a mix of talks, seminars, coaching and group work done together as a church team. We left with a structured ‘action plan’ for how to take our key learnings forward together. I won’t post that plan here – that’s our tool to use as a team – but we will now look to work it out over the next 24 months, so watch this space for what’s ahead.

Following this event the rest of the team headed home to Woking whilst I travelled on to Enfield for a gathering of the various Newfrontiers UK Apostolic Teams. (I’m writing this from a Travelodge in Enfield.) I’m here as part of the Commission UK Team, along with Chris and Jo Kilby from Life Church Southampton. It’s been a great event so far. See you at the weekend.

Some Things To Pray About – March 2023

There’s always a lot going on at Welcome Church, and we wanted to bring a few things to your attention for prayer. We believe God calls us to pray, that He hears us when we pray and that He answers our prayers … so please pray, and if you feel stirred with anything prophetic, please share it with us.

On The Radio Again

I’ll be doing the ’60 second sermon’ on BBC Radio Surrey and Sussex on Sunday morning again, at around 7.45am. If you’re up and awake, do feel free to tune in, and please pray that I can make a positive difference with this short but valued opportunity to speak about Jesus so openly.

New People

It was a real joy to be at our Newcomers Lunch on Sunday. We hold one of these each term and I continue to be amazed by how many people are there each time. In addition to our excellent table hosts and kitchen team (a big thank you to you all!) we had over 60 adult guests again this time (plus a number of their children) who came along to find out more about us and how to connect. Please pray that these new people will connect well to Welcome Church and quickly become part of the family.

We’ll be running our next Belong Believe Become course, starting on April 19th. This is mainly aimed at people who are new to us, so please also pray that many will come to the course and choose to make Welcome Church their church, and that they will go on to grow in their walk with Jesus.

New Babies

This Sunday is Mother’s Day and during our meeting we’ll be giving thanks for some of the new babies that have been born to people in our church over the last year or so. This can be a great occasion for guests to join us so please pray that guests will encounter Jesus whilst they are with us. Parenting small children can be very hard work too, so please also pray for the families with their new babies.


Following our growth since Covid, Mike Deavin (our chair of Trustees) and myself met this week with the architect from our building project to ask the question: “What can we do to create more space for people on this site on a Sunday?” especially with regards to children’s work.

For reasons of space Welcome Kids Seniors and Welcome Youth now meet over the road in “The Cube” (above Useful Wood) on a Sunday morning. This is okay for now, but that site is earmarked for redevelopment in the next couple of years.

Please pray that we get clear answers from the architect about what is realistically possible and that we would have wisdom to know what we should actually do (if anything). It may be that in time we will be looking to go again with fundraising for buildings, but we’ll let you know in good time if that’s going to happen, or maybe God has a totally different solution for us.

Leadership and Vision

I’ll be in Peterborough with some of our team for a couple of days next week at an event called ‘Growing To The Next Level’. We’ve been engaging with this ‘Learning Community’ for a while now and it’s helped to shape and to focus some of what we do as a church. This time the focus is on “Missional Expansion”.

At this event we receive input from a range of speakers and leadership coaches from around the world, this time including Darlene Zschech from Hillsong Australia, and Josh Howard who comes from India and launched a movement that’s started over 16,000 churches in the last 8 years, along with many others.

Please pray that this time is useful and shaping for us as a team and as a church

Pastoral News

Barney Green and Adora Hutchins-Daff get married this Saturday. Please pray that they have a wonderful day and a great start to married life.

Please also pray for Richard, Vanessa and Arielle after the sad loss of 9 year old Callum last Saturday.

Thanks in advance. Your prayers are valued and appreciated.

Some Helpful Resources For Our New Preaching Series

Last Sunday we started our new Welcome Church preaching series on John’s gospel. We’ll be working through the first 12 chapters of John week by week from now until the summer, and I’m really looking forward to it. We’ve given the series the highly creative title of “The Gospel of John”, with the added strapline “A Matter Of Life And Death”.

Christopher kicked off the series on Sunday by taking us through the first 18 verses of chapter 1, usually called “The Prologue”, and this Sunday I’ll take us through the rest of the chapter. If you missed it or you want to listen again, you can access the first talk in the series by clicking here.


Christopher mentioned on Sunday that I would blog some resources this week to go with the series. These could be useful if you want to do further study and go a bit deeper, or if you want a resource to aid discussion in your Lifegroup meetings.

There are five resources I’m going to mention at three different levels, although there are literally hundreds of other great resources available too. I’ve added links to Amazon for each one, but these are actually available from all sorts of places, including from Origin Books in Jubilee Square, who we love to support if we can.

1. Entry Level

A really good entry level resource is:

John for Everyone by Tom Wright

This is written for people at every different stage of faith. It’s a great entry level book that will do you good and you can easily read it from cover to cover. This could work really well for Lifegroups to use together.

2. Intermediate level

If you want to go a bit deeper then I would recommend any of these three:

John 1-12 For You by Josh Moody

This book is deep but also concise, and includes questions for reflection. It covers the twelve chapters we’re looking at in our current series.

Holman NT Commentary Volume 4, John by Kenneth O Gangel

The Holman series of commentaries are well designed for people who are leading Bible studies or preaching. They are well laid out and go chapter by chapter through a book with good depth to them and some application questions. This could really help if you’re looking to lead Bible studies on John.

The Message of John: Here Is Your King by Bruce Milne

This is part of the ‘The Bible Speaks Today’ series, which is a consistently reliable set of Bible commentaries that won’t steer you wrong. It goes deeper than the Holman series and follows the text verse by verse more closely. You could actually use this book as a daily devotional.

3. Advanced Level

The Gospel of John: a commentary by Frederick Dale Bruner

Christopher and I both love this commentary on John’s gospel. It’s well written and full of fresh insights, but be warned: it’s an academic text, it’s not cheap and it may not be for everyone. We’re NOT suggesting you rush out to buy this unless you’re inspired to do some serious study. If you are, this would be an awesome resource to have … but only if you’re really going to use it … otherwise it may look impressive on your bookshelf but it won’t help you very much! 🙂

We really hope you enjoy this new preaching series and that it helps you to grow in your faith. Do let us know your thoughts as we go along.

Updates and Encouragements

This week I want to share some updates and encouragements from life at Welcome Church:

1. Giving for Turkey: a fantastic result

Sadly the recent earthquake in Turkey & Syria killed more than 50,000 people. We talked on Sunday 12th February about how you can give, through Welcome Church, to help churches in our wider church family who have been affected by this. Despite being severely affected themselves, they are serving those in need through the provision of food, clean water, blankets, tents and more, and we can give to help fund this work.

As a church we’ve given over £21,000 so far!

This is a fantastic result and a huge encouragement. Thanks to everyone who has given so far. It’s not too late for you to add to this amount. You can access our online giving portal by clicking here. Do make it clear that it’s for Turkey.

2. Mark Caldeira: confirmed start date

It was great to introduce Mark, Alverna and Skye in person on Sunday morning. Mark joins our staff team this month (find out more about him here) as a full time Operations Manager, and we’re excited for him to start.

They move to Woking on March 20th, and we’ve confirmed Mark will start work with us on Monday 27th March. It’s a big adventure to move to a new country and I’m sure they will face many challenges. Let me encourage us all to be on the front foot to welcome this family as they arrive and to show them our love and support.

3. Preaching: an old series ends and a new one begins

Our Transformed Through Jesus preaching series sadly came to an end on Sunday. I loved watching a brand new Welcome Story each week; they were all excellent. You can watch them all again now by following this link. Let me encourage you to catch up on any stories you missed, and also to share them with people you know, especially via social media.

This Sunday we start our exciting new series on John’s gospel. It will run all the way through to the end of August and cover chapters 1 to 12 of this excellent book of the Bible. Next week I’ll post links to some resources to accompany the new series.

4. Rob Parsons: speaking at Welcome Church

Many of us will be familiar with the well known Christian author and speaker Rob Parsons, who is also the founder of Care For The Family. Following publication of his most recent book, The Heart Of Communication, Rob is doing a UK speaking tour and we’re honoured that one of these dates will be at Welcome Church on Tuesday 21st March.

Rob has written more than twenty books and sold over a million copies in multiple languages. His latest book is aimed at helping people who do public speaking to do it better 😃. I know that many of us do this in a church context and also in our various work places, so this will be useful to lots of us.

Although not strictly a ‘Welcome Church event’, we wanted to let you know about it. You can find out more and book tickets (£10 each) by following this link.

Thanks for reading this blog. Don’t forget you can subscribe to get it straight to your inbox. I hope you’re having a great week.

Commission Festival – LATEST UPDATE

I’m looking forward to Commission Festival this year more than ever. It will be FOUR YEARS since we’ve been able to go away as a family of churches together like this – the last time was summer 2019.

In case you don’t know already, Commission Festival is our annual camping event, taking place over the August Bank Holiday weekend, where we gather with churches from across our Commission UK family. We will get to enjoy all the fun of last year’s Welcome Church Big Weekend Away, camping together as a church, but we’ll also get access to a whole lot more in terms of fun, games, events, inter-church sports competitions, teaching, worship, kids work, youth work and more. The dates for this year are 24th to 28th August at the Bath and West Showground in Shepton Mallet, Somerset. If you hate camping you can always arrange a caravan (as Jo and I have done) or stay offsite in a local B&B or Hotel.

As a church we have more people booked in than we’ve ever had before, so don’t miss out. Prices go up after 10th April, and if you book before the end of February you can opt to pay in instalments. If you sign up to serve you’ll get a 40% discount too, and this year we will also cater for everyone who books in from Welcome Church … for free.

Alongside the usual range of excellent speakers including Guy Miller, Vinu Paul, Chris Kilby, Tim Blaber and more, there are a few specific things happening that I wanted to mention to whet your appetite for the event (and these are just a taster of what to expect):

Mike Pilavachi, well known for his role in Soul Survivor, is going to be speaking on the opening night and you really won’t want to miss it. Mike is also speaking in the youth meeting on the Friday morning.

Kemi Koleoso from Jubilee Church London will be speaking in one of the main morning sessions. Kemi is an incredibly gifted preacher and she will help build our faith to new levels.

Andrew Bunt will be speaking in two seminars and also in one of the youth meetings. Andrew is the author of ‘Finding Your Best Identity: A Short Christian Introduction to Identity, Sexuality and Gender’. Andrew will be helping us understand and find a Biblical approach to these challenging topics both as churches, and also as parents and families. This is a topic that many have been concerned about, so make sure you’re there to get informed and equipped.

Natalie Brand, author of ‘Priscilla, where are you?’ and ‘Prone to Wander’ (as well as a number of other books) will be speaking in two seminars, one on ‘raising female theologians’ and one on ‘struggling when God seems distant’.

Additionally some people from our Welcome Church family will be contributing too. Our very own Jo Petch is working with Sean Theunissen (from Citygate Church in Bournemouth) to organise and deliver the worship for the event; the ‘Commission Collective’ have even been song writing. Meg Ochieng is leading a seminar. I understand that Robin and Anna Willison may be on the seminar list too and I’m sure other familiar faces will appear along the way.

I’m going to be preaching one of the main evening sessions myself, probably on the Saturday evening. It would be great to have a crowd from Welcome Church there to encourage me with your smiles and to pray that I don’t mess it up 🙂

As a church (and knowing the British weather) we’ve booked the biggest marquee we’ve ever had. It’s been described as “so big that our church will go home thinking that Commission Festival was an indoor event” 😂. On top of all this I hear rumours that we’re due to see the return of the Welcome Church silent disco, and a whole range of other fun events in our own marquee too.

We don’t want anyone to miss out on Commission Festival, so if you have any questions or concerns please ask. And please don’t delay booking as prices will go up nearer to the event.

Introducing Our Newest Staff Team Member: Mark Caldeira

As a church we’ve grown a lot in recent months, so our staff team also needs to grow for us to continue to meet the demands of all that needs to be done. One area where we’ve been particularly stretched is our Operations Team, and I’m delighted to announce that we’ve invited Mark Caldeira to join our team full time, as an Operations Manager, from March 6th. Mark won’t be replacing any of our current operations staff; he is needed in addition to them.

Mark is married to Alverna and they have a daughter called Skye who will be 3 years old next month. They are joining us from Mumbai, India where they’ve been part of Living Hope Church, a Commission church led by Vinu Paul. This connection is how I first came to know Mark several years ago and also how I learnt of his move to the UK.

Alverna works for JP Morgan, a financial services company, and last month she was relocated from Mumbai to their offices in Canary Wharf, London – this is the reason behind the family’s relocation to the UK, and why Mark has become available to us.

Mark has vast amount of relevant experience that he will bring to Welcome Church. He started his career working as an Audio Engineer for a recording studio in Mumbai, before moving into church work as Media Director for Living Hope Church and as Vinu Paul’s PA. After this he became the Operations Manager for Living Hope Church and then more recently stepped up to became the Operations Coordinator for the whole of Commission India, which has well over 200 churches across the network.

Mark will bring us expertise in administrative logistics, event and conference management, facilities management, finance & budgeting and IT, and also has experience in improving operational productivity and processes. His skills also include audio, video, media, lighting and sound recording, which I’m sure we’ll put to good use.

Let’s be on the front foot to welcome Mark, Alverna and Skye as they move into Woking over the next few weeks and become part of the Welcome Church family.

Looking to the future we will also need to grow our pastoral staff, especially in the area of co-ordinating our Life Groups and expanding our preaching team. Do be praying as we seek God’s guidance for the way forward in this area of our church life too.

It’s A Blog Resurrection

It’s been a really busy season for us as a church. We grew numerically by more than 30% last year, which means more than 200 extra people now join us each Sunday. The result has been full meetings, full car parks, full kids & youth work, full Life Groups and many other challenges too.

As a team we’ve had a lot to do to keep on top of all that God is doing in our church, especially as we also ran our Hop, Skip and Jump plans through the Autumn which were full on! It’s been fun but exhausting!

As a result a few things got dropped along the way last year – including the joy of writing my blog. Having chatted as a team we’ve decided that it’s time for “a blog resurrection” – after all, we are resurrection people 🙂

Going forward I plan to get a blog post out every week. The aim is to communicate to Welcome Church people about all that’s going on in Welcome Church and in our wider Commission church family, and to celebrate our journey together

Don’t forget, if you subscribe you’ll get the posts straight to your in box. Enjoy!

A Time Of Sadness And Change

What a week it’s been. On Tuesday a new Prime Minister was appointed, and then on Thursday we found out that Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, had died. It’s a time of huge change for our nation.

The Queen was 96 years old so we can’t perhaps claim that we’re shocked or surprised by her death, but after a reign of 70 years I know many of us feel a deep sense of loss. For our country an era has ended; the second Elizabethan era. She’s the only monarch most of us have ever known. The nation is in mourning. Many tears have been shed. To quote the Queen herself when she spoke to the nation about the events of 9/11, “Grief is the price we pay for love.”

The Queen visiting during her visit to HMS Ocean in Devonport at a ceremony to rededicate the ship in 2015
Original: Joel Rouse/ Ministry of DefenceDerivative: nagualdesignOGL 3, via Wikimedia Commons

One of my earliest life memories is of celebrating the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977. I was 5 years old. We had a street party with a kids fancy dress competition and I went dressed up as Noddy. I didn’t win, but I did win the three legged race later on, which was some compensation. The celebrations that day were obviously very significant to me because I don’t really remember anything much else from being 5, but those memories are very clear. This season will also be significant to people and will remain in memories for years to come.

A committed Christian and a faithful servant

It’s been a real privilege to have lived my whole life so far in a country where our Queen was a committed Christian. Her faith inspired her to devoted service to her country too. Her Christmas messages regularly gave a clear declaration of her faith and of the gospel. There are many examples of this, but here are just two:

To many of us our beliefs are of fundamental importance. For me the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life. I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ’s words and example” (2000)

“God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general (important though they are) – but a Saviour, with the power to forgive. Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God’s love.” (2011)

Queen Elizabeth II will be missed and we should thank God for her example of Christian faith and service.

Changing Our Plans

In light of this sad news we’ve adjusted our plans for Welcome Church this weekend. A moment like this requires us to change our plans out of respect for her contribution to our nation and to pause and say thank you to God. So we will still be meeting at 9am and 11am as usual, with kids work and youth work, but the adult meeting and message will be a little different as we reflect on the moment we are in.

Let’s gather to worship and also to give thanks to God for the blessings we’ve had. Everyone is welcome to join us as we mark this occasion. Why not invite a friend to come along with you?

Our Discovering Baptism meeting is planned for 5pm on Sunday, and that will go ahead as planned – please do join us if you want to find out about more about being baptised.

Then at 7pm we had planned to hold our next Encounter worship evening. We are making a change to this and instead of Encounter we will hold a prayer meeting, from 7pm to 8pm, to pray for our nation and to pray for our new King and our new Prime Minister. Please do join us.

And finally, in advance of next weekend, the Welcome Church Fun Day on Saturday 17th September will go ahead as planned. Let’s all be on the front foot to invite guests for this excellent event.

Encountering God Together

Preaching through 1 Corinthians as a church this year was a great reminder that we all need to pursue the person and work of the Holy Spirit, and that we should expect to encounter His presence and His gifts in our lives and in our worship together. Human effort will only get us so far!

At our last ‘Encounter’ worship evening (on July 3rd) we were really blessed by the sense of God’s presence and power, and provoked to pursue more of Him. It was a joy to see people encountering God so deeply, including some from our children’s and youth work. With this in mind, as a team, we feel it’s right to make a priority of this through the Autumn, and to that end we’ve made a small adjustment to our Sunday evening diary.

All the info you need about dates is in the picture (and please do cancel any other Sunday evening dates we may have previously given out). Let’s make these times a priority, young and old, and let’s be ready to encounter God together. Let’s be full of faith and open to all that God has in store for us.