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!

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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!

 

Belong … Believe … Behave

I’ve enjoyed our recent preaching series called, “Why I Love The Church”. Each week has served as reminder to me of the beauty of God’s awesome church.

 

Come as you are

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One concept we looked at was creating a “Come as you are” culture in our church. That’s huge! As people who have received grace and mercy from God, our church should be the most loving, accepting and welcoming place in town!

This will have some huge implications for how we do church life together …

Think about our mission as a church. We want people to …

  1. Believe: We really do. We want them to believe in Jesus: John 3v16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son so that whoever believes him might not perish but have eternal life”
  2. Belong: We want people to belong to our church family: 1 Cor 12v27 – “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” 
  3. Behave: It’s not an ideal word, but it starts with a ‘B’. We want to help people become more like Jesus – we want every believer, as Eph 4v1 puts it, to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received”

But what order do we put these three words in?

This is more important and challenging than its ever been!

UK culture has changed a lot in the last ten years!

The gospel hasn’t changed, Jesus hasn’t changed, people haven’t changed, the Bible hasn’t changed, truth hasn’t changed … but culture has changed.

So we need to consider our approach!

If we went to another nation with a mission agency they would give us cross cultural training … I think we may now need cross cultural training to reach the UK!

Some churches do it this way: Behave … Believe … Belong

socialexclusionSo, if you’re the right sort of person: reasonably wealthy, with an outwardly moral lifestyle and a stable family, someone might invite you to church. If you come you might hear the gospel. And down the line, if you commit your life to Christ and get baptised, you might be allowed to belong to the church family.

The trouble is, we won’t see many come to know Jesus that way!

Other churches do it like this: Believe … Behave … Belong

Im-a-Mess-T-Shirt-Worn-Free-Tee-Black_1024x1024They reach out to anyone, regardless of their background, and recognise that we can’t expect people who are not yet Christians to live a Christian lifestyle.

And once people decide to follow Jesus discipleship begins. Once the big issues are sorted out in their lives they are ‘allowed’ to get baptised and ultimately to join the church.

This is better, but it’s less effective than it used to be, because people with messy lives are still going to struggle to connect.

We also run the danger of teaching people a set of Christian rules, instead of teaching them to follow Jesus!

But more and more churches are finding that to win people for Jesus today we need to order it like this: Belong … believe … behave.

This means helping people to find a place in our church family before they come to faith in Jesus. I’m not redefining church membership here, I’m simply saying is that we need to accept people, just as they are, and allow them to find a place in our church family before they come to faith. In today’s culture this is vital, because people need to know they are accepted, before they’re willing to listen to our message.

belong

When people know they are accepted, they are more willing to listen to our message.

People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care!

Once people have received the gospel and opened their lives to Jesus, once they have believed in him, then their life begins to change. Not because we hot them with a set of rules, but because the Holy Spirit is at work to transform them; they begin to live a life worthy of the calling they have received, albeit with many trips and stumbles along the way … and we need to be okay with the trips and stumbles too.

But is this Biblical? Is it really okay?

I think this is exactly what Jesus modelled for us, for example:

  • When he met Zacchaeus (Luke 19v1-10)
  • When he met the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4v1-42)

Won’t we be misunderstood?

phariseesProbably – but until religious people are scandalised by the radical grace we show to those who are far from God … until pharisaical people are questioning the company we keep … until, like Jesus, we are accused of being a ‘friends of sinners’ …

we’re not really representing Jesus very well.

 

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!

Some last minute thoughts on the EU referendum

 

I’ve recently joined Facebook as a way of staying better connected to people in the church. It’s been a really interesting experiment for me and so far it’s one I’ve enjoyed. Feel free to send me a friend request.

EU Referendum | Questions to Consider | Steve Petch Blog

This week, on Thursday, is the EU referendum: in or out? I won’t tell you which way I’m going to vote but through Facebook I’ve become aware that we have strong supporters on both sides of this issue. Looking to the wider Christian community it doesn’t take long to find people who would say it is our clear Christian duty to vote one way or the other.

Which way would Jesus vote? It depends who you ask!

A fresh perspective

I have another perspective for us to consider:

For the ‘Remain’ side: If your hope for peace, prosperity, justice for all and the good life rests on staying in the EUyou are buying into a false god.

For the ‘Brexit’ side: If your hope for peace, prosperity, justice for all and the good life rests on leaving the EUyou are also buying into a false god.

As soon as we look to something man made to be our source of peace, prosperity, justice for all and the good life we are buying into a false god. No man made institution can do that for us! What the countries of Europe need most is the gospel. They need local churches to be built who will reach out to their communities with the love of Jesus; we need to pray for his kingdom to come.

And let’s remember, whatever the result of this referendum, the EU won’t endure forever and nor will any kingdom or empire (see Daniel 2 for details!)

In the end, only Jesus’ kingdom will endure forever!

He alone is the Prince of Peace; he alone is the source of our provision; he alone is the one who judges the nations with righteousness and justice; he alone is the one who will lead us to the ‘good life’ that actually lies beyond this life in his coming kingdom.

So my comments don’t address which way to vote, and don’t ask me. Look at the issues, pray and make your own mind up. But let’s look at the issues with eyes of faith!

Possible questions to consider

  • Which way is best for the advance of the gospel?
  • Which way is best for the growth of the church?
  • Over the long term, which way will best serve the poor, including the poorly paid in our own nation?

I’ve seen each of these things clearly argued both ways, so it’s still not straightforward, but the effect on house prices or your pension pot or the cost of a holiday in Spain should perhaps not be our central concerns as Christians.

And consider this too: if we feel very emotionally attached to one side or the other and the wrong answer would make us feel very upset … maybe we’re putting too much faith in man made answers?

Maybe Jesus has been dethroned just a little bit in our thinking?

Do vote

I’ll vote, I encourage you to do the same, but as we do let’s remember that we are citizens of another kingdom altogether:

 

“Our citizenship is in heaven, and from there we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.”  

Philippians 3v20

We just had our tenth anniversary as a church (and next week I’ll post an update on that with some photos). As a church we are able to embrace unity and diversity. We see it in the many different types of people who make up our church; we see it in our different ages and nationalities; we see it in our different preferences and cultures; we see it in being three sites but still one church. Let’s not allow a political issue, which concerns only a passing manmade institution, to divide us.

EU Referendum | Questions to Consider | Steve Petch Blog

And when praying about this referendum the Lord’s Prayer is a really good place to start:

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”