Wall Building Heroes of the Week: John and Mollie Oldfield

In this blog I’m giving you a chance to honour some great leaders in a tangible way, so please read on to the end to find out how.

My Privilege

As the Lead Elder here at Grace Church I am privileged to work alongside a high quality group of leaders at all levels: worship leaders, site leaders and leaders in all of our different ministries – there far too many to list them all – you know who you are!

The team I personally spend the most time with is our eldership team – a group of men for whom I am so grateful. This group, who oversee the life of our church, set the vision and bring pastoral care and direction, are a joy to serve with.

Changes are afoot

Those who were with us at our Prayer and Vision night on Wednesday will know already that, among other things, we had a mix of stepping up and stepping down on that evening:

  • Simon Taylor stepped up to join the site team for Bognor Regis
  • Greg Bell and Jez Cooper stepped up to join the Midhurst site team
  • and we announced that John Oldfield has decided that the time has come for him to retire from eldership

Honouring a fantastic couple

John and Mollie have been huge blessing to us – personally and as a church – since they arrived at Grace Church back in 2013, serving in so many ways and bringing blessing to so many. The good news is that they are not moving on, they will still be living here and serving the church:24410_103853996323857_7087165_n

  • John will remain on the Bognor Regis Site team
  • They will still be looking after the Life Groups in Bognor
  • They will still do much of the pastoral work that blesses so many
  • They will still be involved in mentoring some of the younger couples in the church
  • And we will still hear John preach from time to time

However John has decided that, before he hits his 75th birthday (what a shining example of faithfulness!), the time has now come to lay aside the eldership role. We want to thank and bless him for all he has done, and to thank Mollie for all that she has contributed too.

Honouring this couple

Those who don’t know John and Mollie well may not realise the huge variety of things they have done in the past. They have served God and the Great Commission in many ways, including:

  • Church planting in India
  • Being the lead elder at a church in Dartford
  • Being the lead elder at a church in Chatham
  • Leading mission work and teams in Yemen
  • And, of course, helping us establish a congregation in Bognor Regis

This is a couple who are a great example and deserve to be honoured by us all … and here are three tangible ways we can each do that:

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1. Keep listening to them

Although John may be stepping down from eldership, this couple still radiate a passion for God and His church, and they carry a huge wealth of experience. Please keep pressing in to learn from this couple.

2. Say “Thank You”

We are all grateful to this couple, and because they are still here and serving it could be easy to forget to say, “Thank you”. Please don’t just assume they know you are grateful … tell them. This moment, when John is significantly changing his role, is a great chance to show them your love and appreciation.

3. Help them on their way to India

We will soon be waving them off on a six week trip to India, to visit some new places and to revisit some of the people and the works they were so involved with. Commission has a lot going on in India, and John and Mollie were a foundational part of that for many years. They are so well loved over in India, that everywhere I go there people ask if I know them and how they are!

Because of their health, and because we love them and want to honour them, there is a small thing we want to do for them as they go – something we can all do together:

let’s send them business class.

This will really help them to make the most of the trip, and to start and end it well (it’s a long and tiring journey!), so we are inviting anyone who wants to show their thanks to give financially towards this. Anything over and above this will also be passed on to John and Mollie.

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If you feel inspired to say thank you to them in this way, please give it via Grace Church in the usual ways and mark it clearly so we know what it is. (And if you’re not part of our church and you’ve been blessed by John and Mollie and you also want to give to this, you can do it via our website here – and please send us a message so we know who you are and what it’s for)

Finally – be inspired by scripture

1 Timothy 5:17 says this,

“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honour”

here is a great chance for us all to put that into practice.

Grace at Westpoint

We are part of a group of churches called Commission. Each year on the August Bank Holiday weekend the UK Commission churches, together with some friends from Commission churches in other nations, gather for a weekend at Westpoint, near Exeter. We call the event Together at Westpoint. This years event was the best yet and I’m sure we will be talking about it for years to come.

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Westpoint this year reminded me of five great reasons that our church exists:

1. God calls our church to be a FAMILY

It was a blessing to see so many of us there this year. Approximately 200 from our church were among the thousands who attended. It was great to spend time together and have some relaxed fun.

We were served breakfast every morning (thank you Judith and team!)

We had a great BBQ (Judith again I believe) and a fun quiz night (thank you Chris & Catherine and Thomas & Kathryn!)

We successfully lost at the various sporting events … saving me some personal embarrassment – thanks to all involved for that one!

It was great to see our church hanging out together and having fun.

2. God calls our church to SERVE

Everywhere I looked there were Grace Church people serving – serving one another and serving the event.

On our site I saw people looking out for one another and serving each other: meals cooked, children watched our for, tents put up and taken down and much more.cq2ad7kw8aanrx3-jpg-large

Across the event we had people serving in children’s work, in worship, in seminars, in stewarding, in security and much more. Special mention to Sarah Harris and team for running the threes work again this year.

3. God calls our church to WORSHIP

Of course this means worship as a lifestyle and not just singing … but weren’t the sung worship times incredible? Our band served the event so well, as did the band from Bristol.

A huge thanks to Simpson and the team for that.

4. God calls our church to make DISCIPLES

The teaching at Westpoint this year, both main stage and seminars, was outstanding. I believe many of us would call it life changing.

If you missed it here is a link to follow where you can find videos of some of the main sessions – it includes some great footage of our band leading worship too. If you were at the event, why not listen again? Once might not be enough!

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Not sure where to start? I suggest the following order:

  1. Guy Miller’s first talk – Friday evening
  2. Guy’s second talk – Sunday morning
  3. Phil Moore’s talk – Saturday evening
  4. Mark Jobe’s second talk – Sunday evening

There were loads more great talks too which will come on line soon (but not yet available as I write this). When they do why not listen to them all? I’ll post the details on my Facebook and Twitter . Phil Moore’s morning Bible readings, seminars from Mark Jobe and Mick Taylor … listen to them all. You will be impacted!

5. God calls our church to EVANGELISTIC MISSION

One thing that came across clearly at the event was our calling to fulfil the Great Commission – to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. This means church planting and starting new congregations. It also means reaching out with the gospel in the places where we live and work right now.

Guy shared the new vision statement for Commission:cqz6dytweaaq5fo

“To see thousands of lives transformed, through hundreds of churches, in tens of nations”

Guy went on to share our Commission “SURE” strategy:

S: Send – Adventure together to transform the world

U: Unify – Moving forwards together as one

R: Release – Empowering everyone for influence everywhere

E: Equip – Enabling everyone to think and live like Jesus

We were given a booklet with more info about it, and here is a link to a short video too. This strategy will underline our future together as Commission churches.

People responded to this call with an incredible offering – just over £600,000 given and pledged by the time I left on Monday

Two final thoughts from me

First: if you weren’t there you did miss out

There is no way to soften that for you. It was a truly incredible weekend for us as a church and as Commission. But don’t worry – booking for next year is open already. As for me and my house … we’re booked for 2017 already.

Second: THIS WILL IMPACT OUR CHURCH – and we could all feel that impact

The call to be all in (as Phil Moore put it) will mean that some will feel a call to go – to strategically relocate to pursue our calling together . Others will feel a call to change how they are living – to serve God in new ways.

I’m excited about what this year will bring!