Today has been our last Sunday at Grace Church – after more than 11 years it’s time for Jo and I to say our last goodbye (and thanks for inviting us to the goodbye party too!) I haven’t blogged during this time of leadership transition at the church, but I’ll start again now as we leave and I begin my Sabbatical. Thanks for reading!
In 2005 God called us to move to Chichester to plant Grace Church, which we started in 2006. This has been where our family has grown up. In case anyone is unaware, we’re moving to Woking now where I will be lead elder at The Coign Church; there are exciting times ahead.
Looking back I’m so glad that we responded positively to God’s call; God has done so much! It’s been our joy to see three congregations established: Chichester, Bognor Regis and Midhurst. More will follow I’m sure! It’s been our joy to see God at work in so many ways, and now he is calling on us on. I’m sure it will be our joy to see him at work in Woking too.
We want to say thank you to each person at Grace Church for the part they have played along the way. Thank you for friendship, commitment, encouragement and support. As we leave we feel very encouraged and very well sent! God has done so much, and there’s still so much more to come.
The main reason for moving on is simply that God has called us to; it’s obedience. But there are benefits for a church when a leader moves on too, for example:
- All leaders have their faults: we all have blind spots and weaknesses, as well as our strengths; change can be a blessing!
- It creates room for other gifts to emerge: when a leader moves on it creates space for other people to emerge
- It multiplies leadership: Grace Church has a great eldership team now, David supported by many other leaders too. David has come into his own as a lead elder. The church is going to do fine without us
- It keeps the church fresh: New ideas and initiatives will find space and be released to flourish
And if God calls us to move on and we don’t do it, it could result in some problems:
- Stagnation: a loss of the fresh cutting edge
- Loss of anointing: a lack of God’s power and blessing on the task
Ultimately, when leaders stay beyond their God given time, what has been built can be damaged! So there are benefits to leadership changes in church life, and we’ll see those in Grace Church as we go.
Some final words
In my talk today I pointed three final words: Love, Obedience & Truth.
Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this will all people know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” – John 13v34-35
Love for Jesus can overcome all barrier, so love one another, accept one another, bear with one another and forgive one another!
What enables us to do that? The certainty that we are loved ourselves: “We love because he first loved us” – 1 John 4v19
Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments” – John 14v15
The first command we obey is the command to love one another, rooted in a love for God; all the rest of our obedience flows from that. If you love Jesus, obey him. Our obedience is a demonstration of our love. We need to obey what Jesus calls us to do; we need to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
When we walk in obedience we walk in confidence; when we walk in disobedience, nothing feels right. There is no joy for a Christian living in disobedience to God. In his presence is fulness of joy; if you don’t have joy, whose presence are you spending your time in???
Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8v31-32.
True freedom comes by knowing the truth. Truth is not all relative! Truth is not unknowable! Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and life” – John 14v6. Jesus is the truth, and Jesus is knowable. You can find answers for life that are absolutely true, in Jesus.
The best way to avoid being deceived by lies is to know the truth, so learn the truth, read the truth, listen to the truth, meditate on the truth, obey the truth. The Bible is God’s word, and God’s word is truth, and it all points to Jesus and Jesus is truth!
A world to reach
We have a world to reach with the good news of Jesus. People need to see the love of God in us and feel the love of God through us. People need to see us living lives of sacrificial obedience to God, even when it’s costly. People need to see that the truth we have is impacting our world and our lives for good.
Most people will only experience the presence of God through us; you and I are the closest to Jesus they will ever get unless they also come to faith in Jesus for themselves! And for that to happen it is vital that we are living lives of love, obedience and truth.
So that’s three final words to remember: Love … Obedience … Truth.
And as far as my ministry at Grace Church goes …
… that’s your LOT!