Leadership Development at Welcome Church

Identifying, developing and releasing leaders is a big priority for us at Welcome Church. We’re really grateful for those who already serve in a leadership capacity, and know there will be many more out there with leadership potential or experience!

You may know that we’ve actually worked on a number of leadership development initiatives over the past two years; now we want to make these opportunities available more widely across Welcome Church.

Starting on Tuesday 20th October, we’ll be commencing a leadership course – initially online – that will take place over 11 evenings and 3 Saturdays across 18 months. This will include a range of learning approaches with plenty of opportunity for discussion and application.

Should you consider being involved?

What might help you answer this question is to understand what leadership across Welcome Church should be all about!

It should be about creating an environment where:

  • Everyone we serve is able to flourish in their relationship with God, as part of a caring community
  • Everyone’s talents and gifts are valued, developed and released for the works God has prepared for us
  • Everyone finds their place in fulfilling the vision and purpose of Welcome Church and beyond

This is godly, Biblical, servant leadership, and if that excites you, why not consider taking part?

Initially we’re asking you to register an interest by emailing robin.willison@allwelcome.uk. We’ll then send you further details and dates to enable you to make a final decision.

Please don’t be quick to disqualify yourself!

There are many types of leader (there are over 100,000 books about leadership on Amazon!) and there is a significant diversity in how different people create an environment where those around them will flourish.

The course isn’t just open to those who are already in leadership at Welcome Church, and much of what you’ll learn will be very relevant to wherever you may be leading.

If you have a moment, do check out this 1 minute video from the BBC about Vasant Narasimhan, the CEO of drugs firm Novartis. It’s not a church context in any way, yet what he describes exemplifies much of what Christian leadership should aim for, wherever we are placed: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/business-51925466

So why not take the first step and register your interest?

And if you could do that before the end of this month, it would be really helpful.

Exciting Staff News

We have some exciting news regarding a staff change at Welcome Church.

Part of our role as a church is to develop and release leaders, and this applies to those who are employed by us as much as to anyone else. 

WhatsApp Image 2020-04-22 at 16.57.38Many of us will know Ben and Nancy Martin. Ben has been employed at Welcome Church for a number of years, first as a Kids Worker, and more recently as our Children’s and Youth Pastor. About a year ago, as part of our plan for his development, Ben was offered a secondment to Gateway Church in Basingstoke.

Over the last year at Gateway Church, Ben has been involved in lots of activities to help him develop, including setting up a brand new CAP Debt Centre like the one we have here at Welcome Church, alongside involvement with discipleship, pastoral care and lots of other things that have nothing to do with children or youth.

Ben’s aim was to develop further as a leader, and I’m delighted to announce that he has now been appointed to a new, permanent role as Lead Pastor at Life Church in Hook. Life Church is part of the Commission global family of churches, just like Welcome Church, so we will still see him and Nancy at Commission events including Connect Festival next year.

Ben will start this new role on May 18th, and this will bring to an end more than ten years of employment with us, and also his secondment to Gateway Church. It also means he will not now be returning to us in the summer, as was the original plan.

WhatsApp Image 2020-04-22 at 16.57.31As part of this move Ben and Nancy will be relocating to Hook. They already have a buyer for their house and a purchase agreed – all subject to contract of course. In case you missed their other piece of exciting news, Nancy is pregnant with a due date this August.

Please do join me in congratulating them both on this step they are taking; this will be an exciting new phase of their life and ministry together. Ben and Nancy will be missed, yet this new role is a great step into their future together and will be a huge blessing to Life Church.

Here is a video that Ben and Nancy made to share the news in their own words. Enjoy!

 

 

Staying Connected

During this unusual time when we can’t meet together in person, there are a number of ways we plan to stay connected with each other as a church. I want to encourage you to make the most of these opportunities, so no one ends up feeling lonely or cut off. Let’s also be on the front foot to invite other’s to connect with us too.

For some people this may mean learning to use technology that’s completely new to you, but go for it anyway! 🙂

Daily Encouragement

Every day at 4pm (Mon to Sat) we are posting a video to help encourage us all during this crisis. It can be found on our church website, and will also be posted to our Welcome Church Facebook page (not the group!) I may blog some of these posts as well, but it would be best not to rely on that. Please be proactive and look on line at 4pm each day, and do let us know of it’s helpful to you.

Life Groups

Over the next few weeks we were due to refresh our Life Groups, with the chance to start new groups or sign up again for existing ones. In order to provide the best connection and care for us all during this crisis, that process has been postponed and current groups will continue for the time being. We’re encouraging people who are not already in a group to connect to one, and if you need help to do that, please contact Dean Guy.

We’re also encouraging all Life Groups to set up a What’s App group chat so people can easily keep in touch. We know that some groups have also started having virtual meetings using Zoom too – what a great idea (more info on that below).

Welcome Youth

Welcome Youth had their first online experience yesterday evening. Despite one or two technical glitches games were played and encouragement was given. Look out for more on that as the weeks progress.

Alpha

Alpha will be going on line via Zoom. They already had a planning meeting online this week. More details will follow in the days ahead.

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The Alpha Planning Meeting on Zoom

Sundays

Sunday meetings cannot take place in the usual way at the moment. This Sunday at 10am there will be a Sunday preach available on the church website, and also on our Facebook page (not the group!) It will also be available as a podcast.

To make this more interactive I will set up a WATCH PARTY starting a few moments after 10am that anyone can join. To access this on the day, be on the Facebook page and ready to go at 10am! The beauty of a watch party is that people can comment and interact together as we go along. (Can I hear an Amen?) I hope lots of us will join in.

Welcome Kids

This Sunday at 9am our first Welcome Kids online experience will be available on the Welcome Church website for you to enjoy with them at home. They have a great plan including craft, worship, games and teaching. This will also be accessible through the Facebook page.

Prayer

As of Monday morning we will be hosting prayer meetings online through Zoom. The plan is to pray from 7.30am – 8.00am, and then again from 1pm -1.45pm. For each prayer meeting we will post an access code in the Facebook group (not the page!)

Please use these codes to join us and pray. We did one on Friday as an experiment and it went really well.

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Pastoral Care

If you have a pastoral need during this time, please do communicate with your Life Group. We also want to pray for people as a whole church when needs come up, so please use the email care@allwelcome.uk to keep us informed. These needs will be prayed for during the Zoom prayer meetings, so get your requests in.

In terms of practical care for those required to stay at home (shopping, getting a prescription, walking a dog etc) we need to use real wisdom! Life Groups and other contacts across the church can do a certain amount, but as this crisis grows we are unlikely to be able to meet every need. Additionally this is a moment to connect well with our community. On this basis there are some things to consider:

  1. Let’s remember to connect well with our own families and neighbours; they may also need our help.
  2. Let’s get involved with the many local volunteer groups that are springing up. Jo and I are involved with our local one in Send, which is being expertly organised by a woman called Ruth. I am now a ‘volunteer coordinator’, and leaflets are going out across our area today. This creates a great opportunity to meet new people and show them love and care.
  3. Practically speaking, most help given in this season is going to need to be done locally, especially as travel becomes restricted. 

An increasing number of Welcome Church people, of all ages, are being confined at home. We now have confirmed cases of Coronavirus amongst the church, and we have others who have symptoms that are as yet unconfirmed. Our first serious hospitalised case is in a relatively young person with young children and no pre-existing conditions.

If you’re helping someone else, or you’re receiving help, please don’t take unnecessary risks or ignore the need for social distancing. To use an  example, this would mean leaving shopping on the door step and not going inside.

Using technology

Technology is a wonderful gift from God. Let’s be grateful for it and embrace it at this time. You may have noticed that there are some specific technologies we are using at this time to help people connect, so please let’s all consider doing the following:

  1. Sign up for our regular emails – you can do that by clicking this link.
  2. Keep an eye on our websiteInformation and updates will be posted there
  3. Install What’s App on your mobile phone. This is a free messaging service that allows you to set up group chats with people. It also allows you to make totally free audio or video calls to friends who have the app, even to people in other nations.
  4. Sign up to Facebook (Yes! Seriously!) Even if you’ve never done this before and swore you never would, now is the time. Once you’ve joined send me a friend request. Also like & follow our Welcome Church page, and join our Welcome Church group. You may have resisted doing this all your life, or you may just prefer Instagram or Twitter or other social media. In simple practical terms, Facebook offers the level of flexibility and interaction that we need right now, so our focus will be there. You can always quit when this crisis is over.
  5. Sign up to Zoom. This is a free app that you install on your laptop, phone or tablet. Sign up for a free account and you can join in everything we do on Zoom. A free account lets you set up meetings of up to 40 minutes length (though you can join ones that last any length of time). If you want to set up long meetings of your own, you can upgrade to a paid account as I’ve done. Zoom offer lots of online videos and tutorials to teach you how to use it, so why not use some of your time to learn? We used it for our elders and admin meetings this week and it was great.
  6. Follow this blog. This is your one stop shop for staying up to date with the church during this crisis. You can click a button to subscribe to it.

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Staying together as a church

Please be encouraged to embrace these specific technologies to help you stay part of the church community during this time. They are a gift from God for us right now and I thank God for them all.

Even if these things are new to you, or you’re someone who thinks “Facebook is so last year”, please join in. Simply put: let’s all be in the same place.

Including everyone

There are always a few people who are unable to connect in the ways I describe above. Perhaps they have no laptop, email or internet (there are a few people in this position), or the internet where they live is just too slow to stream things.

If you have friends in this position, please do phone them and check in with them regularly. In fact, why not do that with lots of people regularly? If we all made just 1 or 2 phone calls a day just to check in with how people are, what a blessing that could be.

 

New Elders For Welcome Church

This Sunday at our Vision Focus evening I had the joy of putting forward three men to join the eldership team at Welcome Church.

It’s a sign of God’s blessing on a church when godly leaders are raised up to lead and govern God’s people; when they are raised up as shepherds to feed, guide and protect ‘the flock’. It’s my privilege to propose three such men for this church (and I can see more on the way too).

Each of them will bring their own unique combination of gifting and personality, each has demonstrated solid character and good leadership, and they all model godly family life. Hopefully none of the names comes as a big surprise:

Eugene Engelbrecht

Eugene is married to Jodie and they have four children. Together Eugene and Jodie run a business called Engel construction. Eugene has a strong pastoral gift and loves to see people discipled, set free, full of the Spirit and thriving in God. He and Jodie also lead a fairly enormous Life Group.

Christopher Hawes

Christopher is married to Sarah and they have three children. Christopher works in a school as a drama teacher and Sarah works in acting, as well as serving the church in leadership in children’s work. Christopher has a strong Bible teaching gift and is hugely creative. He is also one of our Sunday morning worship leaders.

Mike Reid

Mike is married to Lou and they have three children. Mike works in London in underwriting and Lou regularly gives time as a volunteer, serving in our church offices and helping with pastoral care. Mike has a strong prophetic gift and a clear pastoral heart too. Mike is also one of our church trustees.

We wholeheartedly recommend these three men and their families to you and believe they will be a blessing to our church

They will add a solid strength to our current eldership team, and we are looking forward to what the future brings together. At this point in time all three will continue in their regular full-time jobs.

What next?

The Bible lays out what sort of person an elder should be in three places: Titus 1v5-9; 1 Timothy 3v1-7; 1 Peter 5v1-4. Do have a read of those passages.

Appointing elders is done in combination between apostolic oversight (Guy Miller), the current eldership team (Dean, Dub and myself) and the church.

The church, meaning each of the people who make up the church, has a God-given responsibility: we are called to submit to our leaders, especially our elders, and to receive their ministry in faith. We are also called to encourage them and make their task a joy (Hebrews 13v17).

On this basis, if anyone has any Biblical concerns please let us know straight away. Equally, if you agree that these men are awesome and will be blessing to our church please also let us know that too. Remember: everyone needs encouragement!

A date for your diary

On Sunday 23rd February, at a special meeting, we will appoint these men as elders. Guy & Heather Miller are going to come and join us and lead us through that occasion. Please arrive from 4pm for coffee and cake with a 4.30pm kick off, wrapping up at 5.30pm with more cake.

This will be a celebration for the whole church family, so come with your kids. We will also be meeting as normal that morning at 9am and 11am.

See you there!

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Time to celebrate!

Merry Christmas – what a year it’s been!

We’ve made it safely to the end of another year (almost), and what a year it’s been for Welcome Church! I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

Some highlights

Along the way we’ve built a new building, moved into the annex, held an amazing Gift day, launched Welcome Works, sponsored 141 kids in Togo with Compassion UK, launched The Useful Wood Company, seconded Ben & Nancy to Gateway Church Basingstoke for a while, welcomed Rhea John onto staff, said goodbye to David & Tina Maskell, taken 300 people to Westpoint, finished meeting at the HG Wells Conference Centre, launched and shared our Welcome Stories, published our first book, run an amazing Fun Day, held a fireworks event with around 2000 people, put on a Carol Service for Woking (featuring both the Mayor and our local MP😃) and done a whole lot more too.

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Additionally there’s been the usual, day to day stuff of church life that has carried on, including baptisms, pastoral care, Sunday meetings, worship, preaching, weddings, funerals, kids work, youth work, Life Groups, Alpha courses, ministry to the poor and lots more too.

If you’ve chosen to make Welcome Church your church then we want to say,

“Thank you for being on the journey with us in 2019”.

Looking forward to 2020

2020 is going to be and in incredible year for us. The new building will be launched in January, and there will be many God given opportunities and blessings ahead for us. I’m sure we will also face some big challenges, yet we have a big God who is with us every step of the way. Let’s all start inviting people to the launch event on the 19th.

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Something for us all to do

ImageIf you haven’t done it already, or even if you have, why not take a quiet moment over the next week or so to read Dub’s book, “Caring and Sharing”.

This book is our ‘manifesto for evangelism’ as a church. It’s easy to read, full of great stories and it will only take 1 or 2 hours to read from cover to cover.

I know that if we were all to put the principles in this book into practice in 2020, it would have a huge impact on many lives.

Merry Christmas

I hope you have an amazing Christmas this year, whatever you’re up to. Do take some time out along the way to reflect on the real reason for the season: Jesus coming into the world. Do take time to pray and to thank Him for all he’s done in your life. And I look forward to seeing you all in 2020.

Summer Reading

In case you have a bit of time over the summer to do some extra reading while you enjoy the sunshine, here are some books that I found particularly helpful this year and want to recommend:

1. Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes

This book, by Kenneth Bailey, looks at the life of Jesus from the perspective of those who live in the Middle East. A special focus is given to the stories of Jesus’ birth, his attitude to women, the Lord’s Prayer, the beatitudes and several of Jesus’ parables.

I found it extremely interesting, easy to read and personally challenging. It was packed full of insights that were completely new to me. I will definitely be reading more by this author and I would recommend this book to anyone who’s interested in the life and teachings of Jesus.

2. A War Of Loves – the unexpected story of a gay activist discovering Jesus

Jo and I have had the privilege of meeting David Bennett, having dinner with him and hearing him speak. This book is his autobiographical account of how he came to faith in Jesus, and the implications of this for his life. It is an honest account and doesn’t shy away from some deeply personal and challenging issues.

I would recommend this book to every Christian … I would even call it “essential reading”. Read it with an open heart and let God challenge you; it brought me to tears several times. And if you want to know more, David will be speaking in two seminars at Westpoint this year as well.

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3. Developing Female Leaders

This book, by Kadi Cole, is the one I’ve read most recently and is an absolute gift to anyone in the church. It looks at some of the reasons why women have struggled to maximise their leadership gifts in the church context and gives eight, easy to implement, best practices to help turn that around. It contained truths that I can now see are blindingly obvious, but which I had simply been unaware of before.

I particularly like how the author doesn’t have a big personal axe to grind; she just has a deep desire to help churches live up to the fullness of what they say they believe. Regardless of where we might sit on the “egalitarian” vs “complementarian” debate (and this book is not about that) this is relevant, practical and helpful. I’m looking forward to putting these steps into the practice in the months and years ahead.

4. Sustainable Power

Simon Holley’s book is not new (it’s been on my shelf for four years) but I only got round to reading it this year … and I’m so glad I did. It looks at the ‘rocks’ in our hearts and lives that can prevent God from moving in and through us to impact the world around us. It’s full of relevant stories and examples and is easy to read whilst being personally challenging to read at the same time.

If you want to grow in faith, grow in expectation and grow in your walk with God, this is the book for you. Just don’t expect to reach the end unchallenged and unchanged.

Hope you have a great summer …

… and if you do take the time to read any of these, feel free to (politely) let me know what you thought of them in the comments section below.

 

Our Welcome Church Story

Our church has a fantastic back story, which has been written across a time span of 139 years. It was founded in 1879 by Edward Tarbox who seems like a fairly impressive guy to me; a heroic ‘wall-builder’ in God’s Church.

A few years ago John Gloster wrote a history of our church, covering the period from 1879 to 1999, and it makes fascinating reading. This year he has produced Book 2, and it looks like this:

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In this new book John traces how God has grown Welcome Church from its early roots as Woking Baptist Church. He recounts how God has led us from the early days, on through the Coign Church years until today, when more than 600 men, women and children are sharing His ‘Welcome’ with the Woking community and far beyond.

Copies of the book are available at the Welcome Centre, costing just £5 (£1 less than the price on Amazon) but, as all profits are going to Welcome Church building fund, feel free to pay more than £5, if you wish! 

John will also be selling copies after the 10.00 a.m. service at HG Wells on Sunday 23rd December.

And what a great idea for a Christmas gift, or for some Christmas reading for yourself. 

The book is fascinating, whether you’ve lived through many years of the Church’s history yourself, or are a comparative newcomer wanting to know more about the heroic ‘wall-builders’ of our past.

And rumours are that Book 1 is getting a makeover too and may be available again in 2019 as well. I’m looking forward to that.

Recent Travels & Some Future Plans

You may know that in addition to my role at Welcome Church, I’m also involved with Commission more widely. In that role I’ve been out and about a few times lately:

Regional Celebration

46503824_10157865078449692_8412979250755272704_nOn Sunday 18th November I was speaking in the evening at a Regional Celebration for three Commission Churches held in Epsom. The churches involved were Kings Church Epsom, Open Door Church Sunbury and Jubilee Church Shepperton. Epsom have just recently joined Commission so it was great to be there with them for the first time.

I spoke on the topic of Seeing People Clearly, covering some of the material from our own Belong Believe Become preaching series.

I really enjoyed the evening and was pleased to give one of my favourite shirts an outing too. Big thanks to David Maskell for coming with me.

Eldership appointments

The following Sunday evening, 25th November, I was at Bridge Church Newbury appointing three new church elders: Mark Landreth-Smith (Lead Elder), Pete Carter and Alastair Clark.

This was the first set of eldership appointments for this newly planted church, which is a church plant no longer … now a full fledged church.

Jo came with me and it was great to be with them for the evening, and to see the excitement, passion and vision of the people there.

On the same day, in the morning, Chris Kimbangi was appointed as the new Lead Elder at Centrepoint Church in Guildford following Boggles and Jill Harty moving on. Chris is married to Catherine and they have two small girls. Chris was also part of my team back at Grace Church (before I moved to Woking).

I wasn’t there for the morning, but it’s another big step in the life of a church that was planted from us here at Woking. I’m really glad to have Chris and Catherine just up the road and the early reports are that things are going well.

Week away

In between the two Sundays David, Dean, Dub and myself had a week away, as an Eldership Team, in a remote cottage on Dartmoor to talk, pray and plan for the future … with no phone signal or internet!!! 🙁

We had a great time that included looking at some 360 Feedback on our leadership styles (with help from Robin Willison), the role of eldership, pastoral care plans for the future, plans for life groups, plans for integration of new people (with help from Chaz and Mazz McCallister) and future leadership development. We also had the odd visit to a pub (purely to access their Wi-Fi!)

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We now have lots of plans formed for 2019 … YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!😃

Compassion UK

One more thing in case you missed it: Dean is currently in Kenya with the child sponsorship charity, Compassion. He flew out on Thursday morning … and landed back at Heathrow a couple of hours later due to the plane’s undercarriage malfunctioning!

He says it was pretty tense on the plane as it came in to land, but the stewardesses were excellent (nice one BA). He then flew out again a few hours later, this time getting all the way to Nairobi (we hope 😃). Do pray that he has a safe trip and a life changing experience.

This trip is giving Dean the chance to look at the work of Compassion in Africa, something I did myself a couple of years ago. It was an experience that still lives with me.

Next year we will be launching a project with Compassion as a church (although not in Kenya). Look out for more details of how you can get involved with that in the New Year.

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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

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

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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”

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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!