Welcome Church Begins

Today is a new day for us as a church: we have now become Welcome Church.

Logo_Color_previewWe’ve been working towards this as a church for some months now, and the day has finally arrived! The new name reflects our new identity and culture as a church, which I have attempted to explain below.

We summarise our approach to church life in four simple words:

Belong, Believe, Become, Together.

Belong

So we say, “Come as you are”

There are no perfect people at Welcome Church; we are all recipients of the love, acceptance and inclusion offered by Jesus Christ, who makes us friends of God and friends with each other. Because of Him we can come with all our questions, doubts and struggles. We can belong together, experiencing God’s grace in action.

We are people of grace!

Believe

So we say, “Know how loved you are”

As we journey together, we seek to know God as our loving Father, His son Jesus as our friend and saviour and the Holy Spirit’s life and power within us. We believe Jesus has the answers to this world’s challenges, so we are learning what it means to trust and to follow him.

We are people of faith!

Become

So we say, “Become who you were created to be”

We believe that God has a purpose for every one of us, and that He created us all with a unique identity. As we follow Jesus we want to find God’s purpose for our lives and learn about the identity he has for us. We want to become who God created us to be and to live that out.

We are people of identity!

Together

So we say, “Find your place”

Together we are God’s church and we each have a part to play. Jesus has restored us to a relationship with God as our loving Father and he wants us to have good relationships with one another as well. Together we seek to show the love of Jesus to everyone, both those who are part of the church, and those who are not.

We are people of community.

By living these values out, we aim to fulfil our mission:

“To share God’s Grace in Action with all people for all of life.”

And we pray that we will see our vision fulfilled:

“To see lives changed and communities impacted for good through God’s Grace in Action”

Want to know more? Get in touch with us.

Want to join us on a Sunday? We meet at 9am and at 11am at the HG Wells Conference Centre in Woking.

Check out our new website too: www.allwelcome.uk

And remember: It matters that you’re here.

It Matters

Saying “Goodbye” to The Coign Church and “Hello” to Welcome Church

This Sunday, 13th May, will be our last Sunday as The Coign Church. From Monday May 14th we will become Welcome Church.714596

This is an exciting season in our church life together, and you may have already started to spot changes to our signage, our Facebook group and in other areas too. We still have a lot to do to be ready for our first Sunday as Welcome Church on the 20th May!

Read on for some practical info you might find helpful!

Changes online

From Monday 14th May our new website address will be: www.allwelcome.uk – feel free to check it out already and add it to your favourites. The Coign Church App will update to become the Welcome Church App too.

E-mail addresses will be changing too, but they will be easy to work out: just change the last part to @allwelcome.uk – so info@coign.org becomes info@allwelcome.uk  and so on. Simple!

Changes to our site

From May 14th The Coign Church building is going to be renamed: we will be calling it The Welcome Centre. We want to communicate our

The_Coign_Church,_Church_Street_West,_Woking_(June_2015)_(4)

The Welcome Centre

welcome message with our building as well as with our words and we look forward to welcoming many people into our building in the future.

 

We’re also asking people to remove their Coign Church Car Park stickers from their cars from this weekend.

Yes! Really!

We won’t be reissuing stickers at this stage, but we will still be keeping an eye on our car park ( and we know who you are … 😃)

Of course, if the building plans go ahead as we pray they will, we may not have much of a Car Park for a while from the autumn … you have been warned!

Let’s be thankful

The name Coign has been with us for several decades now, and we have so much to be thankful for; so many excellent things have happened up to this point in our story.

Let’s remember: The Coign Church is not closing, it’s just being renamed!

We are not starting over again from scratch; we are privileged to be building on the excellent work of 139 years that has brought us to this point in our journey together.

Come and celebrate

On Sunday morning we will hold the last of our three Gift Day Sundays for the new building project, and I’ll give a progress update on that later in the week too. Let’s enjoy worshipping together with passion as we do that.

Then on Sunday evening we have a meeting planned, 6.30pm at The Coign Church building, (the last time we’ll be calling it that). During the meeting, among other things, we will worship, pray and give thanks for all that God has done. Come ready to take part!

IMG_2021 2

What a lovely mug!

We also have have a good number of Coign Church mugs that need to be found a new home, so at the end of the evening you’ll be welcome to take one (or more!) home with you … perhaps in return for a donation to the Building Fund. I look forward to drinking from mine for many years to come!

 

Changing our name

As a church we’re changing our name, and introducing a new vision statement and a new mission statement, and also a new logo and artwork

Why make a change at all?

The Coign has been our name and identity for many years – first as The Coign fellowship and then as The Coign Church – and during those years God has hugely blessed this church. Lots of good stuff has happened, so let’s be quick to honour the past and let’s be thankful to God.

baby nameThat said, the idea of changing the name has been well received and even expected. My predecessor, Malcolm Kayes, told me he planned to change the name when the new building was completed, and that was hoped to be a while ago!

 

Of course, whilst no name is perfect, a good name can be a great tool for us to connect with the culture around us. It can be even better if we have a name that reflects the culture of our church too; a name that communicates to people about who we are and helps to draw people in.

The process

Choosing a name has been a long process. It began with a Listening Tour in our church, conducted during September to November 2017, shortly after I arrived. During the Listening Tour I asked four key questons:

  1. What is one thing I need to know about the church?
  2. What is one way we will reach new people?
  3. What is one dream you have for the church?
  4. What is one thing you are afraid I might do?

Those questions gave everyone a chance to speak into the process, albeit without knowing it, and they were hugely informative, after all – we need a name that reflects our intended culture and our aspirations.

Getting help

25498420_10214652080118378_1211415812240430168_n

Paul Graves

We then engaged the help of Paul Graves from seeseven.com. He’s a branding specialist, and a pastor in a church in Seattle. He’s also a friend of one of our trustees and originates from Basingstoke – so he’s as British as fish and chips! Working with Paul, we drew together a small and diverse team to look at the whole area of branding and naming.

 

Focus Groups and Seeking God

Along the way, Paul conducted a series of eight Focus Groups with us, which included all sorts of people from across the whole spectrum of the church  and also included people from outside our church; people from local politics, from church leadership and from the volunteer sector too. We were looking for “quality of data” rather than “quantity of input” at that stage,  which meant that not everyone could be involved, although everyone had already had a chance to input during the Listening Tour.

The focus groups gave great insight into how we are currently viewed as a church, some of the challenges we face, and also the aspirations we hold for ourselves, and out of all that data we began to recognise a simple clear contender for the new name … it actually came really easily.

At the same time, as a team, we were praying and asking God to speak prophetically, and we believe He has many times: to us as individuals, to and through Paul Graves, through prophetic contributions in meetings, through the focus groups, through wisdom and a sense of peace, and in prayer meetings too.

Making the call

So in the end, as an Eldership Team, we reached a decision on the name, and it was honestly a very easy call to make; we were simply confirming a unanimous sense of what everyone involved in the project believed God was saying to us.

So we’re changing the name of our church to: Welcome Church”

Logo_Color_preview

The first Sunday under our new name will be Sunday 20th May, and between now and then we have some work to do to change a lot of things! The change is not now a secret, but we’re planning the publicity to start from May 14th onwards.

Incidentally, if you wonder where you’ve heard the name before, it’s the same name that Graham and Kimberley Allen, sent out from our church, gave to the church they planted in Austin Texas. Although our choice of name and our whole process was completely independent from that. I’ve spoken to Graham and he’s very pleased.

More than a name

Our new name is more than just a name; it’s something that reflects our whole culture, identity and purpose.

Let’s remember why we exist: we’re not here for our own benefit; the church has a mission! We exist to make disciples of all nations! We exist to serve this town and to reach out in love to people with the good news of Jesus.

That’s why we’ve come up with a new ‘strapline’ to go with our name, a strapline that captures some of the essence of the culture and message we want to communicate to people: “It matters that you’re here”

It Matters

Jesus has a purpose for each of our lives. Every person is precious to God. It matters that YOU exist; it matters that you’re here!

Jesus has a purpose for our church too, and that purpose is not about us being warm and comfortable in a nicely ordered church meeting! There are thousands of people in Woking who God is calling us to serve and reach out to with his love and grace, and we’ve hardly begun. We each have a part to play; it matters that you’re here.

A new vision

In my next blog I’ll talk about our new vision statement and our new mission statement, but that’s enough information for one blog!

 

Onwards and upwards! Part 1: Team

We had a great ‘Vision Focus’ evening on Wednesday at The Coign Church. During the evening we highlighted a number of changes we’ve made and are continuing to make, and we also looked at our goal of helping people to …

“… Belong … Believe … Become”

Thank you for all the positive feedback on the evening

In this blog I want to mention three team changes:

Darren and Lois Forsdyke

IMG_1212

It’s a Petch – Forsdyke reunion!

On the evening it was my privilege to introduce Darren and Lois Forsdyke. Darren starts with us full time as Director of Operations from January 1st (although we might give him that day off as a Bank Holiday! 🙃)

Darren will be taking responsibility to lead and manage all the operational aspects of The Coign Church, which is a role we have a huge need for. He’ll also provide a ‘PA’ (Personal Assistant) function to me so I can be more effective in my role. So from January, or very soon afterwards, if you e-mail me … you’ll actually be emailing him! You have been warned …

Darren is taking on a huge role, and I know he’s well up to it; we worked together for the last 11 years! This will be a huge blessing for the Coign Church and we’re totally delighted to have this wonderful couple on board.

Nathan and Jules Silvester

During our evening we announced that Nathan Silvester will be leaving us at the end of this year. He and Jules are moving to Alton where he will be joining the team at Harvest Church in Alton as Associate Pastor.

13239230_10154535155851874_5823937887261508693_n

Nathan and Jules: we’re sure gonna miss ’em

Nathan has served us faithfully for more than nine years as our Youth Worker, and is ready for this new challenge. He will be missed! Harvest Church is another Commission Church; its good to remember that we are in mission together as a family of churches.

Their last Sunday at the Coign will be January 14th, so don’t miss the chance to say ‘goodbye’ and ‘thank you’ to them both.

That leaves us with a question of course …

“What will happen with the youth work?”

20507400_10155853190532323_1511134398279225891_o

Ben and Nancy Martin – exciting times!

We answered that question too:

With immediate effect Ben Martin, who has been our children’s worker for a few years now, will be stepping up to a new role as

“Youth and Children’s Pastor”

This will be significant change of role for Ben and he will need to work differently; he’s also going to need extra operational support … so maybe Darren is arriving in the nick of time!

Ben will be working through lots of other people within the Church to make sure our children’s and youth work are as fantastic as they can possibly be. I know he has a heart full of passion fore young people and ahead full of exciting ideas.

13925916_10154999246015828_3490628649106526083_o

Becca and Ben Corbett – youthful always

Two very key players in all this will now be Ben and Becca Corbett, who will be taking on the primary leadership role for the youth in particular.

This is not an employed position, and they will be doing this as volunteers while still doing their day jobs. It was great to hear from Ben Corbett all about how they want to move the youth work forwards, building on the past and taking us into the future. Exciting times are ahead for our young people!

One more thing:

I want to say, “Thank you Coign Church”

Thank you for being receptive to change.

Thank you for your commitment to our future.

Thank you for coming on this journey together.

One thing is for sure:

We are a church that handles change well!

And in my next blog I plan to talk about where we’ve got to with our building plans, so look out for that.

Our Newest Signing

It takes a team to build a church!

The Coign Church employs a fantastic team of people; it’s a joy working with them. On Sunday evening I announced our newest team member, joining us from January 1st – here is the info again, just in case you missed it or need a reminder:

Running light

One of things Malcolm Kayes said to me on handing over leadership of The Coign Church is that the team has been running “one person light” for a while. Malcolm chose not to fill that position before I arrived, to give me the chance to work out who I wanted. I seriously appreciate that!

As a team we’re now clear about who The Coign Church needs, so from Jan 1st Darren Forsdyke will be joining us as “Director of Operations”.

Darren and Lois - 2

Darren and Lois Forsdyke (He’s the one in the church leader’s shirt)

Why do we need this role?

Large churches often find they need roughly a 50:50 split between pastoral and operational people employed; currently we lean much more towards the pastoral. As a result this impacts our church life – for example:

  • Our event management is often done by elders
  • Our administrative people are flat out busy almost all the time and often work beyond their paid hours
  • Our trustees carry more practical operational responsibility than they might
  • Our church volunteer involvement in administration is low
  • There is no “PA” (personal assistant) to support me in my role
  • Our equipment, buildings and facilities could sometimes be a little better managed and a little better maintained

Additionally, we’re about to embark on a significant building project which has practical, financial and spiritual implications affecting everything!

shack-2657936__340

Time for a building project!

A genuine need

So there is a genuine need for someone extra, with a high level of experience and expertise in operations, and Darren is lined up to join us.

Darren has worked alongside me at Grace Church for the last 11 years, directing our operations and helping the church grow from a tiny church plant into a large and thriving multisite church. (He’s also had various other roles in business management and church employment over the years … but you can ask him about that yourself!)

We anticipate Darren taking responsibility for the whole of the operational side of our church life … all of it. He will be leading and managing a team that will include the other operational people – both employed and volunteer – and we anticipate that team growing and not shrinking! We need more resources in this area, not less!

A personal call

Darren has his own story to tell and his own sense of calling to The Coign Church. He feels led to move here and work with me and the team. Feel free to ask him about that when you meet him, and to send him friend requests on Facebook!

Family wise, Darren and Lois have two daughters. The eldest is married, lives in Chichester and leads the youth ministry at Grace Church along with her husband. The youngest lives and works in London and is part of a Newfrontiers Church there.

Do keep the whole family in your prayers as this moves forward, and Darren’s house is now on the market too – so we have two house sales to pray for!

And for those keen to meet Darren …

He and Lois will be joining us for our Vision Focus evening on Wednesday 6th December, 8pm at The Coign. See you there!

Yes You Can!

One of the (many!) roles that falls to me as the Lead Pastor is setting the culture for my church. Culture is so important!

Someone said it like this:

“Culture is king!”

Obviously Christians believe that Jesus is king 😀 but whoever said it still made an important point. Perhaps it was better phrased like this:

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast”

The simple truth is this: we can make all the plans we want and devise all the strategy we  like, but the culture of our church can hinder our best intentions. For example:

  • We could devise a system to welcome new people, but if our culture is not inclusive and welcoming, new people will not feel welcome.
  • We can create a strategy to train more leaders, but if our culture is not releasing and empowering, new leaders will not emerge – (or they will emerge and leave!)
  • We can earnestly desire to be ‘a more creative church’, but if our culture is not open to new or fresh ideas, creativity will be stifled.

So what culture do we want?

In our preaching over the last three weeks I’ve highlighted two culture areas (and more will follow in the months ahead). We need to create:

  • A “Come As You Are” culture
  • A Culture of Grace

“Come As You Are” is about how we treat people coming in to our church.

It might be best summed up in the three ‘B’ words: Believe, Belong, Become

I explained on Sunday how ‘Become’ is better than ‘Behave’; Christ-like action flows from our new identity in Christ.

One implication of ‘Belong’ being first on the list, is that we don’t require someone to be a church member before they belong to a neighbourhood Group or join a serving team in many areas of church life.

Can I get involved? Yes you can! (Just ask)

Slide1

Flip That Switch!

A “Grace Filled Culture” is about how we treat people within the church

This flows out of our new life and identity in Christ; it’s the outworking of the gospel in our lives and our church.

Jesus gave us a new commandment: love one another (John 13v34). We need to show the same grace to each other that God has shown to us (see Matthew 18v21-35).

How could you show more love and grace to someone in the church today?

 

 

 

A New Season

It was exciting to be at The Coign on Sunday and to be welcomed into church membership … at last! I’ve missed being part of a church family over the last few months.

Contributions were brought during both Sunday meetings that mentioned it being a ‘new season’ for the church. Life moves in seasons, and each season has it’s own unique qualities. Here are three new things that can I see in this new season:

1. A New Role

I started my new role at The Coign Church last Friday. My first day began with a 7am  prayer meeting, followed by a trip to a coffee shop, and I can’t think of a better way to start! It was great that Jo could join us this week. On that note anyone is welcome to join us – 7am each Friday @ The Coign; it’s a good meeting.

My sabbatical has ended now and real life has begun again. What a joy to be released to work for a church; some days I think I have the best job in the world!

IMG_0573

My lovely new office space!

It’s a new experience to be leading a church I haven’t planted myself. There are so many new things for me to get my head around: a new house to live in … a new town to discover … a new church family to get to know … new ways of doing things … new people to work with … new systems and procedures … new challenges and opportunities.

It’s both exciting and challenging, but at least picking up after Malcolm’s 27 years of excellent leadership gives me a solid platform to build on.

2. New church offices

There will be changes ahead for us as a church, and one early change has been setting up new offices in The Coign building – and they are looking good; feel free to call in and see for yourself.

 

IMG_0558

Dean – also looking good!

A huge thank you goes to everyone involved in making the offices happen! There are too many people to mention them all by name, but special mention goes to Dean Guy who was the brains behind the design, and who did incredibly well to get things ready in time for 1st September.

 

It’s going to be different for all of us working in an open plan context, but it has potential to help in several ways, including:

  • A nicer environment to work in
  • A better sense of being a team
  • A greater feeling of camaraderie
  • An easier flow of information
  • More opportunity for collaboration
  • Increased day to day interaction
  • Closer accountability
  • Lower running costs 🙂
  • New moment by moment discipleship possibilities
  • And much more

It also creates a good place for volunteers to get involved … and if you fancy doing an Impact Year then let us know asap – we have space for two people.

I believe these offices can help us move forward in our mission together as a church, and ultimately that’s what it’s all about. They also free up the house and the garage as we start to consider what’s next for us in terms of buildings …

3. A New Team

Well … sort of a new team! Certainly a new team leader and some new ways of working together!

On Tuesday we had a team day in the offices to pray, talk about teamwork and discuss the future. A highlight for me was seeing the huge creativity of team members in response to an activity we did together that required people to ‘bring in an object’. The details of what was said remain confidential, but the items were certainly interesting:

The team I’ve inherited are a real blessing. I’m impressed with how hard people work, how dedicated they are and how much they desire to see the church move forward. Why not take the time to say “thank you” to some of them this week, and let them know that they’re appreciated for the job that they do?

Goodbye Grace Church

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!

Looking back

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.

Moving on

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.

Love:

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

Obedience:

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???

Truth: 

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.

Screen Shot 2017-04-30 at 15.21.18Most 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!

 

All change please!

READ ALL ABOUT IT!

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.

image004

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.

guy-miller_600x600

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,

crgpp2kxgaalpa7-jpg-large

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

image

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.

3. Owen, Phoebe, Zac.jpg

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:

12239969_10206221113061487_1993905688686942211_n.jpg

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.

 

 

 

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.