All change please!

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EXCITING CHURCH SHAPING NEWS! 

On Wednesday evening (16th November) we had a special meeting at Grace Church with Guy Miller and John Groves, during which we announced some big changes. For anyone who missed it here is the news …

On a mission together

Events like Westpoint are shaping for us as a church and as a group of churches. Together we have a vision,

“to see thousands of lives transformed though hundreds of churches in tens of nations” 

Grace Church is part of that vision; we have a part to play in Commission.

A vision like thais doesn’t get fulfilled without some cost and some challenges along the way; it doesn’t happen without us sending people!

From small beginnings

When Grace Church began, over ten years ago now, it started with a small handful of people, all of whom relocated from other churches; there was a cost involved in starting what we now enjoy today and other people paid that price for us!

Jo and myself and our kids were part of that original group; we led Grace Church from day one. In 2006 we moved here from Billingshurst Family Church, which we’d planted a few years before. That church is still going strong today and doing far better than it ever did when we were there, but it was was painful at the time for the church to send us; it was costly to them and also for us.

Grace Church has been a fun adventure so far!

Jo and I have great memories formed over a decade. We’ve made some great friends, and we’ve also sent some great friends off to different places. There have been lots of sending moments; people whose time with us reached an end and who God had plans for elsewhere – that’s part of how his kingdom grows.

And now we are announcing another sending, only this time it won’t be me who is doing the sending

this time Jo and I are the ones being sent!

God is calling us on, so for the Petch family our time at Grace Church will soon be over.

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Petch Family on holiday – can you tell where it is?

Jo and I have felt for a while that this moment might be coming.

They way I would describe it is a sense that our roots have been loosened. Going into this year I felt that I  probably needed to take a Sabbatical break at some point.  I felt that perhaps we needed to hit “refresh”, and then either come back here and dig in with fresh vision for the next decade, or else see if God had another plan. In the midst of our thinking and praying we believe that God has spoken to us.

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Guy Miller

It started in May this year when Guy Miller chatted to us and asked if we would be willing to consider relocating and taking on the leadership of a church in Woking called the Coign Church. (Coign is an old English word for ‘cornerstone’)

Jo and I said we would be willing to consider the move

… and we did … prayerfully.

We’ve been seeking to hear God’s direction for our lives. We really wanted to be led by the Spirit and not merely by human wisdom. Over this time we’ve felt that God is speaking to us in various ways. I won’t list everything here but one key moment was when Chris Kimbangi was preaching at Grace Church back in June. He used the phrase,

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Chris Kimbangi Preaching

“If not you, then who; if not now, then when.”

At a spiritual level that really struck home for me; I felt like God was saying that phrase just to me.

Another key moment was at Westpoint this year, when Phil Moore was speaking. As he talked about being

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Phil Moore

“all in”

Jo and I both new that it applied to us; we knew we needed to say yes to God. There are other prophetic things we could mention, but I’ll stop at those two for now.

So  the eldership team at the Coign have let their church know that they intend to invite me to come and pick up the lead eldership.

This is huge for us as a family!

We have a house move ahead, and there are many other implications for our family too. It impacts on every area of our lives; this is not something we’re doing lightly.

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Owen, Phoebe and Zac

There are implications for our kids: although they are now adults in their own right, their life stage means that they are still dependent on us, so they will move with us.

So what will happen to the leadership at Grace Church? 

As an eldership team we’ve talked about this a lot. Certainly it’s not down to me to crown a successor as I see fit; this sort of decision needs far more input and involvement than just me.

Being part of Commission means that we get Apostolic input and shaping from gifted men like Guy and John, and we’ve done a lot of talking! Through our conversations we’ve become clear about the way forward:

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David Thompson

We are convinced that David Thompson is the right person to take over the lead eldership at Grace Church and lead into the future.

As a team we believe this change will be great for the church. And because we’re confident that God is leading this change, we’re also confident that, just like with Billingshurst, the future will be better for the church than if Jo and I were to stay.

Let God build your faith too!

So with Guy Miller’s apostolic shaping and input, and with John Grove’s oversight, wisdom and care, we are proposing that David should be the next Lead Elder here. As with any eldership appointment if you have concerns or thoughts please chat to us. It’s important for us to know we have your support. David needs to be received in order to lead, so please don’t only talk to us if you’re worried! If you’re happy or excited, tell us that too!

It’s great to lead a church who are so open and receptive to change. Thanks for your encouragements so far!

The way we anticipate things happening is like this:

  • I will carry on as the Lead Elder through Christmas and into the start of the New Year, and then on Wednesday January 11th I’ll hand over to David. We’ll gather the church together that evening and we’ll pray for David and the family and officially appoint him to the role. John Groves will join us and lead us through the evening.
  • Until the end of April I’ll still be here; David and I will work together for a while, me as part of his team; I want to pass the baton to him well.
  • From Monday 1st May I will go on my Sabbatical break, and when I come back to work it will not be at Grace Church; we hope to move house during that period too. So I’ll preach at Grace Church for the last time, and finish my eldership here, on April 30th

Personally Jo and I want you to know we will miss you 2-steve-jo

… but we’re not gone yet! Let’s enjoy these next five and a half months together and make some more fun memories. And please do pray for us.

I want you to know that I have faith for this change: faith for our own move and faith for Grace Church going forward. Let God build your faith too – and remember, this sort of transition is key to the kingdom of God moving forward.

No trophies …

Leadership of a church is not a trophy; it’s a baton. As leaders in a church we are stewards of something for a season, and then we must pass it on to the next person; we pass the baton on like a relay race. I did that once before at Billingshurst, and I’m thrilled that I’m in a position to do that here too.

Passing the baton well to the next person is just as important as the leadership we bring when we are carrying the baton ourselves, maybe even more so. We don’t want to drop it, or hold on to it for too long, or let go grudgingly.There is no success without a successor!

Our greatest joy lies in the future success of Grace Church, after we’ve gone.

So Jo and I are excited about the future. We would love you to stand with us in prayer and in friendship as things move forward.

And if you want a bit more information, here is a link to a video we’ve created for the church that gives more detail about the changes and the future.

 

 

 

Moved by Compassion – again

What an awesome Sunday!

I know that many who were at our Grace Church meetings in Chichester and Bognor Regis  on Sunday found the talk extremely moving. We were thrilled to have Noel Pabiona with us. Noel is the CEO and Country Director of Compassion Philippines and he was in the UK for just a few days – we were very blessed to have him and every believer should hear his talk – it could change your life. The stories he told reduced grown men and women to tears across both meetings (myself included). 15037356_219847288440359_8346825870935785774_n

Those in Midhurst were blessed too, listening to Clare Hartley from Compassion UK. She also spoke brilliantly on God’s heart for the poor. All in all it was a fantastic morning. I’ve put links to both of these talks in the text above – please do listen! You can also get them via iTunes or our Grace Church podcasts.

Supporting Compassion as a church

For several years now, as a church, we’ve been supporting the work of Compassion, one of the world’s leading child development and child advocacy organisations. Working with local churches they create a link between a child living in poverty and a sponsor – people like us.

Sponsorship gives the child access to education, health checks and the care of a local church-based Compassion project. Through these programmes, children’s lives are being changed, along with their families and communities. I’ve seen this in action for myself in Kenya and it affected me deeply.

Our involvement: individual sponsorship

Our involvement has been focussed on a specific area of the Philippines: Negros Occidental. We’ve promoted child sponsorship in this area, and though our church over 200 children have been sponsored so far. The children in the photos are ones that between us we’ve sponsored  – and there are others too …

Our involvement: child survival

Additionally as a church we’ve provided funding for a Child Survival Programme (CSP). The programme works through a local church in the Philippines  and aims to rescue, nurture and disciple infants for the first three years of their lives. They aim to reach the most vulnerable before they’re even born. They provide antenatal care for vulnerable mothers, ensure children are vaccinated and that mothers are given the skills they need to earn a living. It’s about giving children the best possible start in life.

Grace Church has sponsored one of these programmes for several years. It’s called the Kairos programme and it’s being run by Good Shepherd Church.

Why should I care?

There are many reasons we should care about the poor

  • We should care because Jesus called us to care for the poor!
  • We should care because the whole Bible is clear that God expects us to be generous and to look after the poor and the needy (Matt 6:2-4; Acts 2:45; Gal 2:10; Prov 19:17; Prov 21:13; Prov 22:9; Psalm 42:1; Psalm 41:1-3)
  • We should care because no one should have to live and die in conditions like this:

Putting generosity into action

I know that many hearts were touched on Sunday. Every child sponsorship pack that we had available to us was taken and we have a list of requests for more. It looks like more than 30 more children will get a sponsor following Sunday morning, and it’s still not too late – don’t let the moment pass you by

You can sponsor a child, for £25 a month, via the Compassion website here. Or if you want to do it with us in the area of the Philippines we’ve been supporting then contact us here and let us know directly.

Next summer Tobi Stathers, from our Chichester site, is doing a sponsored bike ride from John O’Groats to Bognor to raise extra funds for the CSP. Please do sponsor Tobi; we want lots of people to back him. The money given will be extra to the funding  we already give. There are sponsorship forms available at any of our meetings, or you can give via our website here – just send us a message to let us know what it’s for.

And finally remember this …

“Generosity is not something we do to be praised; we do it because we are compelled by the love of Jesus Christ”

 

On Mission with Commission – come and hear the latest news!

A vision for the season ahead

It’s such a joy for us as a church to be a part of Commission. We have a fantastic vision that we are pursuing in faith together as Commission churches:

“To see THOUSANDS of lives transformed

through HUNDREDS of churches

in TENS of nations

This vision is going to be shaping for us at Grace Church; it will affect what we do together going into the future.

Impact!

Hopefully you’ve already picked up the news that we have a special meeting planned for Grace Church on the evening of Wednesday 16th November with Guy Miller, who leads the Commission group of churches.guy-miller_600x600

The evening is going to be very significant for us, and will include the sharing of some important news – news that will have IMPACT on us as a church.

Because of this we’ve also taken the unusual step of writing to you personally, so if you’re a church member do look out for a letter in the post. 

We want to encourage everyone to be there in person if they can, to hear everything first hand and to catch a vision for the season ahead.

Where and when

The evening will be at the St Paul’s Church building in Chichester, starting at 7.30pm. There will be a mix of worship, information, teaching and prayer.

Please come ready to listen, to contribute and to pray.

unknownWe will be hugely blessed to have Guy with us for the evening. Additionally John Groves will also be with us. Double the blessings!

John has given a lot of input to our church and our eldership team over several years now – knocking us into shape, asking us important questions, keeping us out of trouble  and many of you will know him already. We have often been blessed on a Sunday with his preaching.

John is one of the elders at Hope Church in Winchester and is also a part of the Commission UK Team. It will be really good to have his input on this occasion too.

What’s it about???

We’ll tell you on the evening – so stop asking! No special previews are available!

It will be great to get this time together as a church – you definitely won’t want to have missed it … so see you there, if not before.

 

Enjoying God’s Presence

The Bible is clear that God is with us at all times: “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13v5). That’s pretty good news for Christians everywhere!

God’s number one promise:

The number one promise in the Bible, the thing God promises most often is, “I am with you” or “I will be with you” (or various other versions of the same thing.) He says it often because he wants us to know its true, whether we feel it or not.

Special moments

Sometimes there are moments when we draw especially close to God – and those are pretty special times:

  • Like spending time with Richard and Wendy last Saturday afternoon. Being there with Chris and Sandy, who are their life group leaders, as some practical issues were taken care of and a gift was given to them both from their Life Group. God’s presence was there14713506_211754975916257_2922616688999397217_n
  • Like when we have church members being baptised – incredible moments of God’s closeness and blessing for his people. God’s presence is there
  • Like sometimes when we gather together to worship and pray and hear God’s word taught. He’s always there when we meet, but sometimes we just feel his presence in a special way

Sunday Evening

image-03-11-2016-at-19-29This Sunday evening will be one of those times as we enjoy our Grace Church “Worship and Holy Spirit Evening”. We are going to gather together simply to worship, wait on God and see what he wants to say to us.

 

 

We’ve done a couple of these evenings before and God’s presence has always been so tangible. So come ready to meet with God and to enjoy his presence; come with faith and expectation; come ready to contribute; come ready to worship and to give praise and glory to God … and come expecting to encounter his presence.