Loving Midhurst, Helping Refugees, Doing Good

One of the reasons I love Grace Church is that we do good things!

We are structured as a multisite church, which means we are one church with one vision, one leadership and one message … but meeting in more than one location (or ‘site’).

Grace Church Midhurst

Our third site was started in 2015 in the wonderful and picturesque town of Midhurst, currently meeting at Capron House each Sunday at 10am (All welcome! Come as you are!) Being in Midhurst is exciting and we have been delighted to see new people coming along as our congregation there has started to grow in number and connect with the town.

Garden Party & Syrian Refugee Fund

Grace Church Midhurst Sussex | Steve Petch Church Leader BlogLast autumn we launched this new site publicly with a “Garden Party” in Midhurst, which incidentally raised £875 for the Syrian Refugee Relief Fund who work in refugee camps in Reyhanli in Turkey, near the border with Syria. They used that money to provide prosthetic limbs and the required physiotherapy to two refugees who had lost limbs to bombs in Syria. They were also able to provide some training to people in the camp to help manufacture more prosthetics.

Grace Church then sent a further £2,275 to this cause following a special offering at each of our carol services. I love our church! We do good things!

In March we delivered 16,000 leaflets across Midhurst and the surrounding area to let people know that we are in town. It’s been good to see guests come and check us out as a result.

I’ve included a copy of the leaflet which says it all:

 Grace Church Midhurst | Steve Petch Church Leader Blog

Grace Church in Midhurst … HERE FOR GOOD!

To find our more about the good things we do together as a church, or to get involved, have a look at the GraceWorks section of our website.

Generosity from India

I received an e-mail this week which moved me to tears, but before I tell you why, let me explain the background.

What we gave

As a church we had a special offering in early 2015 to help fund the first year of our Midhurst site and Chris Kimbangi coming onto the church staff full-time. We pledged to give a tithe (10%) of that offering to a particular project, run by a Commission Church in India, which cares for children with additional needs.

In the end we were able to send them £8,000 thanks to the generosity of Grace Church members.

What they did with our gift

I recently received a report telling us how the money is being used, which so far, among other things, has included:

  • Renovating the centre (the building)
  • Painting the centre
  • Maintaining their vehicle, which brings children and a hospital physiotherapist to the centre daily, (each day it travels 120km)
  • A cataract operation to restore sight
  • The day-to-day running of the centre for 7 months

I have included some photos (and because of the nature of the internet I won’t say here exactly where it is or use photos of the children):

In 2015 I was blown away by the generosity of our church … again. This week I was blown away by seeing how much can be done with so little … again.

But neither of these things are what moved me.

When we decided to give to this project, on the advice of our friends in Commission, I had not realized that the Indian Church Pastor behind this project had attended a Grace Church meeting seven years ago, whilst visiting friends in the UK. (His trip had been paid for from the UK; they could never afford it by themselves.) I met him in passing and we exchanged a brief e-mail afterwards in which he was polite about my sermon.


Real Generosity

Here is what moved me: having received his report on how the money was being used I sent back a message to say, “Thanks for keeping us updated”, and in reply he said,

“…we have been praying for you as a family and the Church, every Friday for last 7 years, since I visited Grace Church.”

He added that if there was anything specific they could pray for I should let him know.

That’s moved me. That’s generosity.

You CAN handle the truth!

I had coffee with a friend this week who leads an evangelical church not far away from us. He told me the story of how the floor of their church building collapsed: it was a wooden floor (late 1800’s) and it literally gave way. By God’s grace no one was hurt and they now have a solid concrete floor that isn’t going anywhere.

I also spoke to a friend this week who is the lead elder in a church also not far away from us. He told me the story of how his kitchen ceiling collapsed. It missed his wife by about an inch, but destroyed two computers that were sat on the table. They had sat underneath for dinner with friends the evening before, but again, by God’s grace, no one was hurt and repairs will be done.

We don’t tend to think about the floor or the ceiling much, we assume that they are there, but clearly solid foundations and ceilings could mean the difference between life and death.

What is the truth?

Church is Pillar and Foundation of the Truth - Steve Petch Blog

1 Tim 3 v 15 tells us that the church is,

“…the pillar and foundation of the truth.”

That means we have a job to do as a church: we need to be telling people the truth with our words and demonstrating it to them by how we live.

We need to “hold up” the truth as a pillar holds up a ceiling.

We need to build our church life in such a way that the truth finds a firm foundation to rest on.

Pilate asked Jesus that question at his trial, but sadly neglected to stay and hear the answer:

  • Jesus is the truth (John 14 v 6) – Let’s not be shy to tell people about him!
  • God’s word is truth (John 17 v 17) – Let’s not be shy to preach the Bible to a truth starved world!

Help with the truth @ Grace Church:

To help with all this we have arranged for a training day with some speakers from Ravi Zacharius Ministries on Saturday 4th June. We’ll be looking at “Handling The Main Objections to Christianity

Exact details are TBC, but reserve the whole day in your diary now! (Admission will be by ticket only)

Let’s learn together to be that pillar and foundation of truth, careful not to let our floor or ceiling give way, after all – it could mean the difference between life and death.

And to those new age thinkers who say, “There is no such thing as truth”, we must ask in reply, “Really? Do you believe your statement to be true?”


Personal commitments 2016

I made a suggestion to our leadership team here at Grace Church Together that we each adopt these six personal commitments for the year ahead:

To maintain my integrity

To forgive those who hurt me

To relax and trust God

To be an encourager

To be a peacemaker

To grow and learn

(They are not my original thoughts – I had a little help from the brilliant ‘pastors.com’)

Chris, being the youngest and trendiest member of our eldership team, turned it into this laminated picture for me and it’s now on my office wall:

Personal Commitments for our Leaders - Steve Petch Blog

Feel free to keep an eye on us and let us know how we’re doing!

These commitments are essential for leaders, but they are good for any of us who are trying to live out our faith in Jesus. With this in mind:

What commitments will you make?


20:20 Vision

It’s currently my privilege to be a part of Guy Miller’s “UK Hub Team” for the Commission Group of churches. This means that as well as having the opportunity to give support to the leadership teams of some Commission churches in our area, I also attend the UK Team meetings.

I was in Bournemouth for two team days recently and it was exciting to look at ways to move forward with our 20:20 Vision for our UK Churches. It’s a privilege to meet with such a gifted team, and Guy incorporated in a few newer faces for the second day too. There is some really excellent stuff going on at the moment: church plants, church adoptions, new multisites. Commission is on the move!

Our UK goals?

  • 100 churches in the UK by the end of 2020
  • 1000 baptisms between now and then

This will happen through the different contributions of many different people, applying their various gifts, as Jesus directs us.

Personal contribution:

Outside of the prayer times, my personal contribution to the two days consisted mainly of:

Malcolm Kayes - Steve Petch Blog

Malcolm Kayes, leader of the Coign Church, Woking – a Commission Church

  • Drinking too much tea
  • Debating with Malcolm Kayes (pictured!) who’s wisdom and experience is a joy to be around
  • Making a profound over-statement (Jo has warned me about this sort of behaviour before – maybe more than once)
  • Apologising for making a profound over-statement
  • Explaining what I really meant by my profound over-statement
  • Drinking more tea

It’s a good job our progress is not going to depend on me … although I have no doubt that Grace Church will have a continuing part to play.

With that in mind, let’s all get involved … and if you haven’t booked in for Westpoint 2016 yet, click on the link to find out what it is and why you should be there (*tip* turn your sound on!)

Westpoint is always a great chance to have fun all together which is so good for us as a multisite church, and it gets us to connect into the wider world of Commission which is our family of churches.