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:

  • HONEST
  • PASSIONATE
  • SERVANT-HEARTED
  • COLLABORATIVE
  • ACCOUNTABLE
  • HONOURING
  • FAITH FILLED and
  • CARING

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.

Buildings

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.

Resources

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.