Handing over: feeling excited … and a little bit sad

Wednesday 11th January is a massive day for me personally:

happy-05It’s the day I hand over the Lead Eldership role at Grace Church to David Thompson. This moment feels quite exciting: it’s like like the starter pistol marking the beginning of a race; it’s the first step on our journey to a new destination; it’s the commencement of our new adventure. Woo hoo!

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My Inner Baby

I’m excited about the future, and about the many things ahead for us, and at the same time I do feel a genuine measure of sadness at letting go after 11 years in the role.

 

Two Reminders

At the start of this week I want to remind Grace Church people of two things:

1. Wednesday Evening is important

I want to remind you of the importance of Wednesday evening’s meeting. It will begin at 7.30pm at St Pancras Church building in Chichester. John Groves will come and lead us through the evening together, and I’m told there are going to be cupcakes … nice!

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Cupcakes!!! Will ours look this good???

It would be great if every family in the church could be represented on the evening. Let’s show David and Ali our full support.

This is a significant moment

  • It’s significant for David and his family. Let’s pray for him and seek God for fresh anointing for this new role
  • It’s significant for Grace Church. We will receive a new Lead Elder who will lead the church into the future
  • It’s significant to me. I feel privileged to have someone to hand on to, who I am confident will do a great job; I don’t take that for granted, and I’m looking forward to being on David’s team until the end of April.

And on that note, let me remind you of a second thing …

2. Why we believe David is the right person for the job

Back when we made this announcement I listed ten reasons why we felt David was the right person for this role. Here are those ten reasons again:

  1. There is apostolic agreement to David stepping up; it seems good to the people who oversee our eldership team
  2. David has been ready to lead his own church for some time now; in fact if he wasn’t doing it here, he would be moving before long to do it elsewhere
  3. David’s own sense of calling; David feels a personal call to take the role on and is already developing a clear vision and strategy for the future
  4. The eldership team are united in agreement with David’s sense of calling; we have faith that this is the right way forward for Grace Church
  5. Shared values: David is already part of the team here; we have shared values. It doesn’t mean nothing will change in how we do things, but at the level of beliefs and values there will be continuity – Grace Church will continue to be Grace Church as you know and love it
  6. Shared history: David knows this church; he knows the people and how we came to be who we are. David has been here for two thirds of our churches life so far; he’s not new

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    “I’d rather have a cupcake”

  7. Ongoing community relationships: David has good ongoing links built with other church leaders in our area; he’s been doing that far more than me – it’s good not to be starting from scratch again
  8. The future needs of this church: to move forward well and continue to pioneer well, we need clear strategy, we need good systems that work and we need to continue to raise and release leaders; we believe David does those things well
  9. Understanding of our church: multisite is unusual; not just anyone could come and lead it well; David understands who we are and how we work – you can’t put a value on that!
  10. David is already leading a lot of the church: as elders we work as a team; it’s never been a one man show; he’s been doing a large portion of the job already!

That’s quite a list, and if I could add an 11th reason to the list I would say that it just feels right to me personally

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“It’s safe to come down now; Steve’s finished talking about you.”

Confidence!

I’m confident that God is leading this change … and because I’m confident that God is leading the change, I’m also confident that the future will be better for Grace Church than if we were to stay.

This is a good move.

This is a God move.

I believe there are exciting and fruitful times ahead for us all!

Go Grace Church!

 

 

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.