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!

 

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!

 

 

New Year – New Beginnings

2017 is going to be year of huge changes and of new beginnings for Grace Church, and also for me and my family personally!

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David Thompson – captain of the ship!

Next week, on Wednesday 11th January,  I will be handing over the Lead Eldership at Grace Church to David Thompson, and although I feel a measure of sadness as one phase of my own life heads towards its close, I’m also excited at the new beginnings!

I’m excited for new beginnings at Grace Church:

This is a God initiated change and it’s going to be good for the church. David has all sorts of ideas and plans to help the church move into the future; he is very ready for his new role and I’m excited for him too.

I’m excited for new beginnings for my family:

We have a whole new chapter ahead for us in a new location and a new house. I’m pleased that we’re moving nearer to London, although we will miss being near the sea and close to some of Jo’s family. It will be good to have new places to discover and new people to meet. We are ready for our new adventure together!

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The Petch Family: ready for some new beginnings

I’m excited for new beginnings personally:

I will have a new church to lead and to love. I will have a new team to work with. I will have new challenges to face and new opportunities to pursue. And before I start in the new role I also have another new experience to enjoy: a sabbatical break. I’m getting excited just thinking about the possibilities this creates for renewal and refreshment before my own new role begins.

That’s a lot of new beginnings, but one thing that is ending soon is our current preaching series.

It comes to an end on Sunday 8th Jan. This is the last preaching series I will lead Grace Church through, and it was built around one key verse:

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As we go into this New Year together, although for many of us there will be a parting of the ways as the year goes by, let’s remember that we are each in God’s hands; he has plans for us and it’s our privilege to walk in them. God’s promises are true and reliable for each of us, whatever direction he is leading us in.

Let’s each actively embrace this new beginning:

Please join us on Wednesday 11th when we are appointing David to his new role. It’s at 7.30pm at St Pancras Church in Chichester, and John Groves will be leading us through the evening. This is a great chance for each of us to show our love and support for David and Ali as the changes take effect.

Remember: this has spiritual impact!

What we are doing is not insignificant and it affects the whole future of the church. We can’t afford to be casual about it! Come ready to pray and to encourage! Come ready to play your part as we step into this new beginning together.

Saying ‘goodbye’ to a good friend

A sad day

15079034_1026862530772733_3224708844393030373_nYesterday at Grace Church we said goodbye to a dear friend and church member, Richard Owen. Richard and Wendy have been part of our church since before it began; they helped to plant it. Richard will be greatly missed.

If you want to know what sort of man Richard was, you could do a lot worse than to look at the things written about him on Facebook since he was taken home. For example:

  • It was a pleasure to know Richard, such a kind & generous heart
  • Richard was one of the first people to welcome me to Grace Church, and he knew my name. He was such a lovely man
  • We will miss this man of great faith, humility, compassion, love and joy. He is an inspiration
  • Richard will be greatly missed – such an example to us all of a real warrior for God showing great perseverance and faith
  • Richard was such an inspiration to me as a young adult. He brought faith and fun together in a natural way
  • Richard is an inspiration and benchmark on how to live in the Lord

Inspiration

15171334_1026862740772712_7280242106463818483_nOne word seems to come up a lot: Inspiration. There was something about Richard that inspired people to live well and follow Jesus wholeheartedly.

Something about Richard inspired people to look to God and to stand firm in their faith. The final post that he made on Facebook, on June 24th following the EU referendum, said this:

“God is building His Church. He always has and He always will. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom that has always transcended borders. Nothing can thwart His eternal will and purpose. The outcome of the referendum makes not one iota of difference to Him who is forever praised. To His redeemed He has promised that He will work ALL things for good to those who love Him and are the called according to His purposes. We have nothing to fear. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, what is unseen is eternal.”

Richard had his gaze set beyond this world and onto his heavenly home; the home to which he has now gone.

Thanksgiving

At the thanksgiving service we focused on these words from the Bible, 2 Peter 1v5-8:

“Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

That passage sums up some character qualities which we saw in Richard’s life, and which were the source of much of the inspiration he gave.

The first quality it mentions is faithRichard was a man of faith. He had his own personal faith in Christ, but he was also prepared to take steps of faith: travelling to India, setting up charities, giving himself to an adventure like church planting. These were faith steps.

It says, “Make every effort to add to your faith goodness”: Richard embodied goodness in many ways: he was good to people; he was always willing to do good to others and to put himself out. He spent hours showing pastoral care and love to people who needed it. He was willing to help when help was needed. Many of us benefited from his goodness.

Next it says, “add … to goodness, knowledge”: Richard spent hours studying and reading books about his Christian faith. Even in his final days he was deep into books by the great authors of the Christian faith. He was devoted to growing in the knowledge of God right up to the end, when he saw him face to face and no more books were necessary.

15110901_221087181649703_7917039115661628657_oTo knowledge we are told to add, “self control”: I’ve no doubt that Richard got cross or upset sometimes, but in the 11 years I knew him I never saw it. I never saw him lose it, or fly off the handle, or gossip or back bite or complain or get angry or bitter. That’s a serious level of self control – and it’s not as if he never faced any disappointments!

Ask him how he was and he would say, “I’m good”. Even when he was dying of cancer and I thought that maybe now he might be forgiven for a few grumbles, he would just say,

“I can’t complain; God is good!”

Then it says, “add … to self-control, perseverance”: I saw Richard persevere when his house in Hove refused to sell for two years. Believing God had told them to move, he persevered. I saw him persevere when Wendy battled breast cancer. I saw him persevere though the challenges of church life. And we all saw him persevere through his illness, only reluctantly stepping back from his many serving roles when Wendy insisted!

“To perseverance” we are told to add, “godliness”: As someone said on Facebook, “Richard was an inspiration and benchmark on how to live in the Lord”. And someone else said, “He brought faith and fun together in a natural way”. I’m not sure there are any better definitions of godliness than those two.

To godliness we are told to add “mutual affection”, or as other translations say it, “brotherly affection”: Many of us benefitted from Richard’s affectionate nature; the love he showed to his brothers and sisters in Christ.We see it y in the way he served in so many areas: setting up events, leading small groups, his travels to India, his commitment to leadership and his acts of service and generosity. Richard exuded brotherly affection.

15095030_1281942981827381_953735968216780002_nAnd finally, to “brotherly affection” we are told to add “love”: The type of love it refers to here can be summed in one phrase: self sacrifice. This is a love based not on feelings but on a decision; a love that chooses to prefer others and put them first. And Richard showed that so well: in marriage, in parenting, in friendships and in church life too.

A high calling

What an incredible list and what a high calling, and Richard embodied it well. The passage finishes with this: “If you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

And Richard was anything but ineffective and unproductive! What a faithful servant! What a life! No wonder he was such an inspiration to so many!

The source of it all

So what was it that made Richard such an inspiration? What motivated him? What shaped him? Was he just a naturally good person?

Without being rude or disrespectful, the answer is no! If Richard had been willing to acknowledge that he had these qualities at all, he would have been clear that the source of them was not found in his own natural character or goodness. These qualities were not inborn; they came from his relationship with Jesus Christ.

They came from being born again!

Despite all his natural good qualities, and they were many, as a young man Richard came to realise that he was a sinner and that he needed forgiveness and mercy from God … and in Jesus he found the source of an eternal forgiveness and mercy.

The Bible puts it like this in John 3v16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him might not perish but have everlasting life”

Richard knew this to be true. He believed that Jesus was the son of God. That he came from heaven to earth, born as a baby. He believed that Jesus lived a sinless life, and that he died on the cross in our place, to pay the price for our sin. He believed that Jesus was punished in our place on the cross. Crucified, dead and buried, and then three days later Jesus rose to life again. That was the basis of his faith.

No fool

398822_2708099735376_825295775_nNow Richard was no fool. He was a policeman for 28 years. He was used to looking at evidence. He didn’t let people put one over on him easily. He had some gruesome stories of dead bodies too that he used to roll out from time to time to make people like me squirm. Richard was no fool.

Yet Richard believe that this one man, Jesus, had done something that no one else in all history had ever done: he had risen from the dead. And the implications of that fact, carefully considered and researched by Police Inspector Owen, changed his whole life.

Richard knew that through Jesus we can each find forgiveness and mercy and be made right with God again. And on believing that message  Richard put his faith in Jesus and followed him. And I know that Richard would want each of us to do the same.

Jesus changes everything

When you put your faith in Jesus it changes everything. Jesus is the source of the good that we saw in Richard:  faith, goodness, knowledge,  self control,  perseverance,  godliness, brotherly affection, love … all these things find their source in Jesus.

When we put our faith in him, he not only makes us right with God, he not only forgives our sin and promises us eternal life, he also starts to change our lives and make us into the people we were created to be.

Real evidence

Perhaps the real evidence of the truth behind Richard’s faith in Jesus, the evidence that we should all pause to consider, is the righteous life that Richard lived as a result of his faith. This was not the result of human effort; it was the result of God at work in Richard’s life.

So we thank God for Richard

We thank God for his example. We thank God for his life. And most of all we thank God for the eternal life that he now enjoys through his faith in Christ, a life that is available to each of us by faith too.

Faith was the first quality on that list for a reason; it all starts with faith … and maybe now is a moment for us to put your faith in Jesus too, perhaps for the first time or perhaps to reaffirm our own faith again.

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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.

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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.

 

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.

Grace at Westpoint

We are part of a group of churches called Commission. Each year on the August Bank Holiday weekend the UK Commission churches, together with some friends from Commission churches in other nations, gather for a weekend at Westpoint, near Exeter. We call the event Together at Westpoint. This years event was the best yet and I’m sure we will be talking about it for years to come.

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Westpoint this year reminded me of five great reasons that our church exists:

1. God calls our church to be a FAMILY

It was a blessing to see so many of us there this year. Approximately 200 from our church were among the thousands who attended. It was great to spend time together and have some relaxed fun.

We were served breakfast every morning (thank you Judith and team!)

We had a great BBQ (Judith again I believe) and a fun quiz night (thank you Chris & Catherine and Thomas & Kathryn!)

We successfully lost at the various sporting events … saving me some personal embarrassment – thanks to all involved for that one!

It was great to see our church hanging out together and having fun.

2. God calls our church to SERVE

Everywhere I looked there were Grace Church people serving – serving one another and serving the event.

On our site I saw people looking out for one another and serving each other: meals cooked, children watched our for, tents put up and taken down and much more.cq2ad7kw8aanrx3-jpg-large

Across the event we had people serving in children’s work, in worship, in seminars, in stewarding, in security and much more. Special mention to Sarah Harris and team for running the threes work again this year.

3. God calls our church to WORSHIP

Of course this means worship as a lifestyle and not just singing … but weren’t the sung worship times incredible? Our band served the event so well, as did the band from Bristol.

A huge thanks to Simpson and the team for that.

4. God calls our church to make DISCIPLES

The teaching at Westpoint this year, both main stage and seminars, was outstanding. I believe many of us would call it life changing.

If you missed it here is a link to follow where you can find videos of some of the main sessions – it includes some great footage of our band leading worship too. If you were at the event, why not listen again? Once might not be enough!

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Not sure where to start? I suggest the following order:

  1. Guy Miller’s first talk – Friday evening
  2. Guy’s second talk – Sunday morning
  3. Phil Moore’s talk – Saturday evening
  4. Mark Jobe’s second talk – Sunday evening

There were loads more great talks too which will come on line soon (but not yet available as I write this). When they do why not listen to them all? I’ll post the details on my Facebook and Twitter . Phil Moore’s morning Bible readings, seminars from Mark Jobe and Mick Taylor … listen to them all. You will be impacted!

5. God calls our church to EVANGELISTIC MISSION

One thing that came across clearly at the event was our calling to fulfil the Great Commission – to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. This means church planting and starting new congregations. It also means reaching out with the gospel in the places where we live and work right now.

Guy shared the new vision statement for Commission:cqz6dytweaaq5fo

“To see thousands of lives transformed, through hundreds of churches, in tens of nations”

Guy went on to share our Commission “SURE” strategy:

S: Send – Adventure together to transform the world

U: Unify – Moving forwards together as one

R: Release – Empowering everyone for influence everywhere

E: Equip – Enabling everyone to think and live like Jesus

We were given a booklet with more info about it, and here is a link to a short video too. This strategy will underline our future together as Commission churches.

People responded to this call with an incredible offering – just over £600,000 given and pledged by the time I left on Monday

Two final thoughts from me

First: if you weren’t there you did miss out

There is no way to soften that for you. It was a truly incredible weekend for us as a church and as Commission. But don’t worry – booking for next year is open already. As for me and my house … we’re booked for 2017 already.

Second: THIS WILL IMPACT OUR CHURCH – and we could all feel that impact

The call to be all in (as Phil Moore put it) will mean that some will feel a call to go – to strategically relocate to pursue our calling together . Others will feel a call to change how they are living – to serve God in new ways.

I’m excited about what this year will bring!