Welcome Church, The Future – Part 4: Autumn Plans

On Sunday (May 8th) we had our Welcome Church Vision Evening. This week I’ll be blogging about some of the key items we covered. This is part 4 of 5. (You can find Part 1 by clicking here)

Plans For The Autumn

One of my favourite places to be on a Sunday morning at Welcome Church is at the Info Point in our Welcome Lounge, where it’s a privilege to meet some of the new people who are joining us week by week. Hanneke and her team run it really well, so huge thanks to all who are involved. 🙂

Recently lots of our new people have been South Africans, which is brilliant, and many others are from the UK and other nations, which is also brilliant! One observation we’ve made is that lots of new people in this season are already Christians; not all, but the majority. It’s great to have many well established Christians joining us who are a blessing to further strengthen us as a church; you are all a gift from God!

Life Transformed Through Jesus

As a church our vision is to see life transformed through Jesus, so of course we have a passion to reach out to those who are not-yet Christians in the town around us. Let’s remember, outreach is God’s plan; the Great Commission is really His mission.

So how can we play our part well?

When it comes to reaching out we have two guiding principles we want to follow:

  1. Everything we do as Jesus’ followers is to be done in LOVE, and that includes every attempt to reach out to people who are not yet Christians. The best way to fulfil Jesus’ GREAT COMMISSION to go and make disciples is through Jesus’ GREAT COMMANDMENT to love people
  2. God calls us to be INTENTIONAL in our relationships, to love people towards Jesus. The end goal for our relationship with our not-yet-Christian friend or colleague is not only friendship (though that’s a great thing!), but for them to come to know Jesus; introducing someone to Jesus is the most loving thing we can ever do for them.

Relational Momentum

We’ve found that one of the best ways to introduce someone to Jesus is to build what we call RELATIONAL MOMENTUM, which simply means them meeting, connecting with, and getting to know other Christians from your church. Since Jesus told us, “You are the light of the world” we should expect him to shine though us, and he shines even more brightly through a group of us together.

An invitation to church given to someone who doesn’t know ANYONE in your church is one thing; the answer may be a yes or a no. But an invite to church given to someone who knows you, has got to know several of your Christian friends from the church, and may even have had contact with your church at an event is far more likely to result in a yes, and that invitation creates a great moment for them to encounter Jesus.

Loving People Towards Jesus

Remember, you can’t save anyone; only God does that. Our role is simply to love people towards Jesus, and the very best way we can bring people to Jesus is by bringing them to church, where they will encounter the Holy Spirit, hear the wonderful truths about Jesus preached, and have an opportunity to respond to Jesus.

As a church, we want to facilitate you loving people towards Jesus, so with this in mind, this Autumn we are relaunching our ..

Hop, Skip and Jump

The last time we did this was in 2019 in the run up to our building launch. The Hop & the Skip was a series of easy invite social events to help us build relational momentum through invitations, leading up to a church invitation for our Building Launch Event:

  • We Hopped with a Fun Day in September 2019 – 1,000 people attended including 500 guests. 460 then signed up to get a free ticket to our Fireworks Night
  • We Skipped with our Firework Night – 2,000 people attended, including 1,700 guests
  • We Sang with our Carol Service For Woking in Dec 2019 – we know singing is usually part of a triple jump, but we slipped it in there because it was too good to miss
  • We Jumped with our ‘Welcome Stories’ Building Launch Sunday on 19th Jan 2020 – Over 1250 people attended, enjoying pastries, coffee and a great time together

Following our Hop, Skip & Jump, our average attendance grew by around 250 people each week, from roughly 500 to 750 people, and many connected to Jesus for the first time … and then 10 weeks later Lockdown hit and a whole load of momentum was lost 😮. But life is increasingly returning to normal, so …

It’s time to do it again: let’s Hop, Skip, (Sing) and Jump

Here’s our Autumn 2022 plan, to give us all the opportunity to bring people in our lives on that journey:

  • HOP: Welcome Church Fun Day, Sat 17th September. I would love all of us to bring friends along; there’s no limit to how many people you can bring. Details will follow soon, but please put the event in your diary now and think about who you might invite, including whole families. Think big!
  • SKIP: Welcome Church FireWorks Night, Sat 5th Nov. Everyone who comes to our Fun Day can receive a free ticket to the Fireworks Night, giving them a 2nd brilliant event with Welcome Church to look forward to, and it’s also a great chance to reach out and invite more new people.
  • SING: A Carol Service For Woking. A great opportunity to invite your friends to enjoy Christmas Carols in our building with mulled wine and mince pies, and who doesn’t love a good carol service?
  • JUMP: The first Sunday of our new Welcome Stories Series, Sun 8th Jan 2023. 

A Triple Jump can take you so much further than trying to make one giant leap, so these Hop, Skip and Jump events will help our friends to connect and come closer to us, leading to that invite moment to the Welcome Stories Sunday in January.

Are you ready to go?

Welcome Stories

Alongside our Hop Skip and Jump we’ll also be launching some new Welcome Stories, one every 2-3 weeks, over this coming Autumn. As we launch them, it’s an opportunity for all of us to share them on Social Media, allowing all of our contacts to see these inspiring stories of God’s impact on the lives of people within Welcome Church.

During our last series of Welcome Stories, most stories had over 10,000 views on Facebook alongside other Social Media, mainly down to the fact that people across Welcome Church clicked “share” to enable their contacts to see them. If you haven’t seen our Welcome Stories then you can access them on this link.  

But don’t wait for the Autumn to get started

In the weeks ahead there will be other opportunities we can take to start building Relational Momentum with people, for example the Jubilee Street Parties and other events talking place over the Queens Platinum Jubilee weekend, or a Life Group social event or perhaps just your own BBQ.

And if you want to know more, why not read, or re-read, Dub Everitt’s excellent book: Loving People Towards Jesus. It’s available from Origin Books in Woking (but if you ask in the Welcome Lounge we’ll probably give you one as a free gift 🙂)

Tomorrow I’ll finish this series of Blog posts by talking about how we can all play our part.

Welcome Church, The Future – Part 3: Leadership

On Sunday (May 8th) we had our Welcome Church Vision Evening. This week I’ll be blogging about some of the key items we covered. This is part 3 of 5. (You can find Part 1 by clicking here)

Releasing more leadership

As a growing church we’ve recognised the need to release more leadership to help us move forward as a church, and we’ve realised that it can’t be done simply by adding ever larger numbers of people to an Eldership Team that grows and grows. We have a great Eldership Team here at Welcome Church (I would say that) but we recognise a need for more voices, and for more diversity of voices, and also that we can’t effectively lead a church of this size through an eldership team that meets once a week in an evening; we need more gifts to be released.

With that in mind, coming out of our prayer week away together as Elders in January, we made a decision to release two new teams to support the Eldership in shaping and delivering the church’s vision going forward. We have now released the following two leadership teams:

1. An Executive Team

The Executive Team is a small team designed to keep us moving forward in the right direction week by week, reviewing what has gone before and planning for what’s coming up. This team is able to respond rapidly to what needs to be done day by day, to deal with issues as they occur, to troubleshoot problems and to care for the staff team and volunteers. It’s also about ensuring that there’s a seamless relationship between Operations and Ministries, which has not always been the case.

This team consists of myself (Lead Pastor), Darren Forsdyke (Ops Director) and Christopher Hawes (see below), along with regular input from Dub Everitt (Outreach Pastor) with his excellent outreach gift. All of us are employed by the church and available all week long. This team brings Ops and Ministries together in one team, under the oversight of the Eldership, with freedom to get on and move us forward rapidly in line with Eldership vision and strategy. So far it’s working well, but there’s exciting development too:

We’ve given Christopher Hawes a change of job title to Executive Pastor

This means that Chris is being released with more freedom and authority, and will also deputise for me as needed. I’m sure you’ll agree Chris is already having a good impact on us. I’ve been impressed with his leadership skill, his strategic thinking and his ability to see and grasp all the issues, not to mention his fast growing preaching gift. So we’re stepping him into this new role where he won’t replace me but will be leading more freely over lots of what we do.

For clarity, I’m not going anywhere! I’m still the Lead Pastor and I feel very called to the role. The reality is that as well as being Lead Pastor at Welcome Church, I have a wider role within Commission which takes a portion of my time each week. For example, I lead the Commission Hub Team that provides care and oversight to all UK churches, I’m part of the Commission UK Team and am chairing that while Guy Miller is on sabbatical and I’m regularly involved with helping other church Eldership Teams. This outside ministry is part of how we’re called to serve as a church. Having Chris in his new role is supporting and releasing me more in all I do both in Welcome Church and elsewhere. 

As an Eldership we have also released:

2. A Strategic Team

This team is a mix of men and women who we want to speak into and help shape our strategy as a church; it’s about supporting the staff and the Executive Team as they turn Eldership vision into reality; it’s also about speaking into that vision and strategy so that as an Eldership we hear from a wider range of voices with greater diversity of thought and life experience. 

This team has already been meeting and has already started to help shape things. The team as it stands includes Dub, Dean, Chris and myself from the Eldership Team, alongside Darren Forsdyke and Uti Anyeagbunam from Ops. We’ve also included Meg Ochieng , Jo Petch, Beryl Hunwicks and Simon Field. These are all people who I know we would recognise as gifted leaders and who already carry weight in the church.

Beryl, Darren, Dean, Steve, Uti, Jo, Meg, Simon, Chris, Dub. The cats are not actually part of the team, but they’re still important.

We meet each month to talk about strategy, to shape what’s coming up and to speak into our key issues and events. As an eldership we’re delighted with the result of releasing this team; it’s already influencing things in a good way.

We still believe in eldership

For clarity, neither of these teams is replacing our Eldership. Our theology hasn’t changed. Eldership is Biblical; Elders are given by God to oversee the affairs of the church … but they don’t have to lead everything. Part of their role is to release and oversee other gifted leaders and to create an environment where everyone can flourish.

Tomorrow I’m going to blog about our exciting plans for the autumn.

Welcome Church, The Future – Part 2: A New Vision

On Sunday (May 8th) we had our Welcome Church Vision Evening. This week I’ll be blogging about some of the key items we covered. This is part 2 of 5. (You can find Part 1 by clicking here)

Refreshing our vision and mission as a church

In 2021 we launched our Recovery Plan to help us recover from the pandemic. One thing the plan said we would do was “refresh our vision and mission as a church”.

In 2018, when we became Welcome Church, we introduced a new vision statement and mission statement. The vision statement was, “To see lives transformed and communities impacted for good through God’s Grace In Action”. The mission statement was, “To share God’s Grace In Action with all people in all of life.” These significantly shaped our church over the last few years.

Coming out of the pandemic we looked at these again to see how we might refresh them for an even better future. We observed four things:

  1. The phrase ‘Grace In Action’ hasn’t really gained traction
  2. Having two statements was perhaps a little ‘over-engineered’ for our context
  3. In reality, Belong, Believe, Become has actually been our mission statement day to day
  4. Whilst the vision statement is absolutely where our heart is, it’s quite long and most of us would struggle to quote it

With that in mind, at our Elders prayer week away in January, we prayed for the church and prayed into this issue and we made some decisions:

  1. We are going to move away from having separate vision and mission statements and replace them with one simple statement of purpose for our church
  2. We are going to keep Jesus at the centre of it

Following this we landed on a new statement of our purpose as a church, developed from what went before, which encapsulates the heart of what we’re called to as a church. It’s just four words long:

“Life Transformed Through Jesus

We are all about Life Transformed Through Jesus.

This also has a nice twist to it: we can change the first word. This means that every church ministry can adapt it for themselves:

  • Children transformed through Jesus
  • Youth transformed through Jesus
  • Singleness transformed through Jesus
  • Marriage transformed through Jesus
  • Families transformed through Jesus 
  • Work transformed through Jesus
  • Debt transformed through Jesus
  • Retirement transformed through Jesus
  • Those in need transformed through Jesus
  • Our community transformed through Jesus

It all adds up to one thing: LIFE transformed through Jesus 

Everything we do, let’s do it all to see life transformed through Jesus. As we teach the Bible, as we care for one another, as we serve, as we give, as we run ministries and events, as we care for those in need … let’s do it all because we know that every person and every part of life can be transformed through Jesus. Someone should stick it on a t-shirt.

Tomorrow I’m going to blog about our how we’re now releasing two new leadership teams and creating a new leadership role to help us move forward into the future.

Welcome Church, The Future – Part 1: Looking Back

On Sunday (May 8th) we had our Welcome Church Vision Evening looking at ‘Where we’ve been, where are now and, most importantly, where we’re heading in the future‘. This week I’ll be blogging about some of the key items we covered. This is part 1 of 5.

The pandemic created some big challenges for us all, both personally and as a church, yet we’ve known God’s blessing all the way through; He has done great things for us!

In the run up to the pandemic a lot had changed for us as a church in a short space of time, including a new name and logo, a new website, a new vision and mission statement, a new culture being outworked, a new approach to outreach, a new approach to belonging AND the launch of our brand new purpose built building in the heart of Woking. In some ways the pandemic could not have come at a worse time for us with Lockdown closing our building just a few weeks after it opened!

Despite this God has blessed our church beyond all expectation

We’re now back meeting together in person across two meetings each Sunday morning with kids work and youth work, and we’re seeing new people come and join us regularly. To encourage you, here are some Welcome Church statistics from the last couple of years:

  • 4 people have joined our staff team: Christopher Hawes (Preaching and Discipleship), Uti Anyaegbunam (Ops. Manager), Hannah Oliver (Ops. Assistant) and Juliet Bauermeister (Comms. Manager)
  • 147 have attended an Alpha Course
  • 123 have attended our new Learn Groups (Bible Course, Prayer Course, etc)
  • 457 signed up to attend Life Groups in the January refresh (plus there are a whole load more who we know attend but didn’t actually sign up … so cheeky!!!)
  • 104 have attended our various CAP courses (Fresh Start, Job Club, Life Skills, Money Course)
  • 79 people have been baptised
  • 46 children attended the Welcome Kids Weekend Away
  • 192 people attended our last 2 Newcomers Lunches (both since Lockdown ended)
  • 96 people have attended our ‘Belong, Believe, Become’ course in 2022 alone

Additionally your generous giving as a church has beaten all expectations throughout the pandemic. We beat our budget in both 2020/21 and 2021/22, so on behalf of the Eldership Team and the Trustees let me say a huge THANK YOU!

We’ve also given lots away to some key causes over the last two years:

  • £19,000 was given in 2020 to help feed people in need through our Commission churches in India
  • £36,000 was raised in 2020 to support Your Sanctuary
  • £33,000 was given just recently to help our churches in Ukraine serve their communities during the ongoing conflict there
  • £19,000 was given to provide buildings for some of our Commission churches in Bangladesh and to support some of our other works in that part of the world too

In fact, as well as financing what we do as a church, we gave away over £158,000 last year alone, including to support both the work of our Commission church family and some other excellent local causes including Woking Food Bank and Woking Street Angels.

These are all good signs that God is at work in and through our church. We have a lot to be thankful for, so let’s be on the front foot to give God the glory for all he’s doing, even as we face some sadnesses, some sicknesses and some losses amongst our church family too.

“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” Psalm 126v3

Where do we go from here?

Looking back at God’s past faithfulness brings great encouragement, faith and hope for the future. Tomorrow I’m going to blog about our brand new vision statement as a church which will now begin to shape where we go in the future.

Sunday Mornings: Going live at 9.45

This Sunday (24th Jan) sees the start of our new approach to Sunday meetings at Welcome Church with the launch of Live Streaming at welcomechurch.online. One, live streamed, weekly meeting will replace the pre-recorded meetings we’ve been creating each week since lockdown began last March.

We will be “going live at 9.45”

The new Sunday morning schedule means that the Welcome Kids meetings will be streamed at the new time of 9am, and you can then stay tuned for the full Sunday meeting afterwards.

Why switch to live streaming?

Live streaming does carry some risks and challenges! For example if the internet goes down at our building, or we hit up against some other technical issue, we could lose the stream. If we make mistakes we can’t edit them out 🙂. Live Streaming is also technically more difficult to deliver well and can’t be subtitled in advance. But there are some BIG advantages too, which relate to our Welcome Church Recovery Plan and will help us towards a return to normal church life:

We can all be together in real time

We will be live in real time and able to interact with one another more easily. We can more easily share family news and updates. We can all be ‘together’ in the same place at the same time (albeit online!)

Lots of us used to enjoy times of fellowship on a Sunday at the start and close of each meeting. Live streaming will allow us to recreate some of that community as we interact through the chat, which the meeting hosts will be able to see and respond to in real time.

Be aware though: it also means that if you miss the meeting when it’s live … you’ve missed it – so set your alarm clock and be there!

It will create a good ‘runway’ for the return to in person meetings

Live Streaming means that, when the time is right, people can attend the live streamed meetings in person. Of course, at the right time, we want to have everyone back in the building and return to a Biblical pattern of church life together, but that still seems to be some way off despite the vaccine. Live streaming will allow us to serve a congregation in the building and at home at the same time, and for us to still all be together as one church.

When restrictions ease enough so that in person meetings can be done in a safe and effective way, we will let you know and people will be able to book places.

Lets make the most of this live stream

Let’s all use this new opportunity to help RENEW our relationships with one another, to RENEW an increasingly Biblical pattern of church life together, to RENEW our sense of adventure together, to REFRESH our vision as Welcome Church, to REFRESH our rhythm of weekly life as a church, to REBUILD our faith for this mission together and to REBUILD our core Sunday meetings.

Live Streaming is a significant step towards our RECOVERY as a church. See you on Sunday, live at 9.45.

Recovery Plan – Part 1: Introduction

Despite being in the midst of a new Lockdown our nation is approaching a turning point in the fight against Covid. The vaccine roll out has begun and, as people are vaccinated, we’ll start to see a return to normal life. 2021 should be a turning point for our nation, and that means it will be a turning point for our church on the road to recovery too.

With this in mind we’ve prayerfully put together our Welcome Church Recovery Plan. This week I’m going to blog about it. The plan isn’t a schedule of activities or goals for the year; it’s more about the ethos we want to adopt this year as a church and the sort of culture we want to build.

What a difference a year makes

As a church we began 2020 on a bit of a high. In January our new building was opened. Lots of new people joined us and many were baptised. God was clearly at work and we were ready for anything with a sense that “we could do this mission together”.

Then Covid-19 hit like a tidal wave sweeping everything before it. As 2021 begins we’re in a very different place. Lockdown 3 has started. People are tired and discouraged. We’ve suffered losses. We have questions:

  • Will these restrictions ever end?
  • When will I get the vaccine?
  • Is the vaccine safe?
  • Will someone I love get sick or even die?
  • Will my job survive?
  • Can I even find a job?
  • When can I see my friends?
  • Will I get a holiday this year?
  • When will normal life return?

Far from being ready for anything, right now we’re not really ready to do anything much at all!

As we begin a new year and a new lockdown I’m aware that many people feel wrung out, frustrated and fed up. They’re unsure how long they can keep living under these restrictions but, at the same time, they’re not sure how they’ll cope with a return to normal life when that happens either.

One newspaper article described us a nation that had moved from FOMO (Fear of missing out) to FOGO (Fear of going out). This fear, they said, was not about the risk of catching the virus but rather a concern about having the capacity to cope with normal life again.

This all adds up to a great place for us to be in, because it’s a place where God can work; God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness.

A Big Concern

I am (of course!) concerned about the ongoing restrictions, but I’m actually more concerned about when things start to unlock. A new Lockdown brings fresh challenges for us, but we know what we’re doing with lockdown now; we’ve done it twice before; we’re in a routine with it.

What we’ve not done before is unlock and return to normality, and this will almost certainly happen as 2021 goes by and more people get vaccinated. As it happens I’m concerned we could find ourselves quickly overwhelmed with activity. I’m concerned that our lives – including our church life – could easily become unsustainable and unmanageable.

The Church is God’s Family

It’s important to remember that the church is the people; it’s a family. Church isn’t a business or a corporation where we must now work extra hard to make up for the ground lost due to the pandemic and get our KPIs back on track.

Many people in our church have experienced damage caused by the pandemic: emotional, relational, physical, financial and spiritual. Some of these impacts may be long lasting. We must allow ourselves time to recover in the months ahead, and perhaps to grieve some losses so we don’t burn out physically or emotionally.

It needs to feel like coming home

As 2021 unfolds and the vaccine rolls out people will begin to go through the process of returning to normal work, family and social life, and that will create some pressures. There will be a weight of expectation in all of these areas that people will be under pressure to live up to.

As this all happens we need to make sure we get our approach right as a church. The first principle of our recovery plan is this: our church needs to be a place of refuge in the midst of that; a place of refreshing and recovery, not of demand, drain and duty.

In summary, when Lockdown ends and we start to return to normal life, our church needs to feel like coming home … and not like going to work.

I’ll say more in part 2, tomorrow

WE’VE LAUNCHED!! … What now?

Hi everyone. Dub Everitt here hijacking Steve’s blog again …

Wow!! What a Launch we enjoyed on Sunday!! It was an absolutely brilliant Sunday morning with hundreds at the 9am meeting and even more at the 11am meeting.

Our band led worship brilliantly, Mike’s Welcome Story stirred emotions across the room and Steve’s talk on the Prodigal Son, encapsulated by the video of Derek Redmond being supported around the track by his Dad, powerfully revealed the incredible heart of God to rush towards us.

And what amazing words we heard from our Architect Paul Ginever, who has been hugely impacted by working with Welcome Church on this project, as well as our Mayor Beryl Hunwicks and our MP Jonathan Lord speaking brilliantly on the impact Welcome Church is making. And then a presentation from Compassion topped it off so well, showing the impact we’re making on mothers and babies in Togo as well.

Oh, did I nearly forget … we were joined by hundreds and hundreds of guests across the morning in the adults meeting, as well as Kids Work and Creche also buzzing with guest kids having a great morning.

white-shuttle-spaceship-takes-on-39603The numbers …

At HG Wells recently we have tended to have roughly 560 to 600 people per week on a Sunday across both meetings, including kids and creche.

Our Launch Sunday saw 1,256 people filling the new building, more than doubling our usual numbers!!! And across the board, all of our guests LOVED IT!!!

What

A

Morning!

The question now is this: we’ve launched (BRILLIANTLY!) so what now?

That Launch Sunday has come, and the Launch Sunday has now gone. We’ve done all we can to invite and bring guests. Hundreds came, hundreds went away upbeat and impacted.

And three days later, our big Launch moment is now in the past. So, what next for us individually and as a church? Back to “business as usual”, whatever that may mean to us?

NOOOOOOOO!!!
I believe that what we’ve seen is something God wants to inspire us with. We CAN bring guests to church. They WILL love it. God WILL impact them. This can happen EVERY WEEK. Remember, this is about God changing people’s lives.

We’ve had a taste of what being an inviting church feels like, and the impact it has on those we bring. And God has a big encouragement for us:

“Do it again!”

So, as we look back on our Launch, and also look forward to “Welcome Stories week 2” this coming Sunday and the rest of this 6-week series, there are two encouragements I have for ALL OF US…

1. If you brought guests last Sunday, invite them again this Sunday!

This is an invite we can all make with confidence. We know they’re positive, and they now know what to expect.

But the reality is, only the boldest of our friends will contact us to say, “Please can I come next week?” Many, however, if they were re-invited, may well say “Yes!” So let’s re-invite them. And if they can’t make it this Sunday, see if the following Sunday works.

This doesn’t mean being pushy. But it does mean recognising it will take another invite for our friends to come, so it’s up to us to make the invite.

welcome-to-our-home-print-brown-wooden-wall-decor-163046

2. If you didn’t bring guests last Sunday, the invite door hasn’t closed until our next Building Launch in another 40 years!!!

You may’ve invited people to the Launch and they couldn’t make it. Me and Tanya had 5 families who couldn’t come last Sunday but said, “We’d like to come another time.” We now need to follow up to say, “The Launch was amazing, a shame you couldn’t make it. What Sunday suits you? How about next Sunday?”

You may’ve not got round to inviting, or didn’t feel brave enough to invite. Well, after witnessing how brilliant Sunday was, and experiencing the incredible buzz of hundreds of new people thinking, “Wow! I wasn’t expecting church to be like that!” – I know you’ve now gained the confidence to think, “I can invite, because it’s brilliant!”

A second wave

Our Launch Sunday was a new ‘high water mark’ for us. In our Prayer Meeting on Tuesday morning, Tony Lynch brought a prophetic word about a 2nd wave, specifically of those who DIDN’T come to the Launch, but who we can invite again over the coming weeks and who will say yes!

I believe this is a word from God to nudge us and build our faith to go again.

You and I now know: if my friends come, they’ll really enjoy it. And God will impact them. So let’s make those invites.

God is at work

He’s working through you and me to reach out to our friends, and as they come to church with us over these Sundays He’s at work through His church as well.

I felt God remind me recently that a key role He has for us is to be door-openers – for us to open the door to introduce people to Jesus. From there, Jesus will do what He does – save and transform people! And that’s something we are all called to be a part of: leading people to Jesus, seeing lives changed, seeing Jesus get the glory.

Our invitations to church over these coming Sunday’s are us looking to open that door. So let me encourage you: let’s all make those return invites and those first-time invites, let’s pray and let’s see what God does!

Dub Everitt is Outreach Pastor at Welcome Church.

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.

Image 2

 

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.

Vision Focus: The Year So Far

Last night at Welcome Church we had our Vision Focus meeting for the Summer Term. It was great to see so many people there. I will post a few blogs this week to help keep everyone up to date.

Vision focus is a termly meeting  to communicate what’s been going on in the church  and what’s coming up; a mix of information, inspiration and prayer; a chance to find out what’s happening and what’s ahead.

It’s been an interesting and exciting year so far

In January we made the change in our approach to membership, talking instead about belonging. Other church leaders have been talking to me about what we’ve done; it’s a subject that seems to be under review in lots of churches.

Alpha is going well. We have 35 completing the current course. God is at work. He has put people in your life who you could invite; we are still barely scratching the surface. We had 17 baptisms in March, of which 8 came from alpha. If you want to get baptised next time, just let us know.

Kids and Youth work are going well. Our youth and kids pastor, Ben Martin, is currently in Basingstoke for a secondment and is doing a great job there by all accounts. Do keep Ben and Nancy in your prayers and remember that they are still living here in Woking,

Ben and Becca Corbett are leading the youth team well. The youth work is growing and they just had a great youth alpha.

The kids team is now being headed up by Steve Blowfeld, known to all as Blowers, and what a great job they did with a family service on Sunday morning – including some fun costumes for some of the elders …

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What happens when the kids work take over

This term we also launched Welcome Works.

Welcome works is our new initiative to draw together all our ministries to the poor. I love the new strap line: With You, For You.

As part of Welcome Works we launched our Compassion child sponsorship programme, sponsoring children in Togo. So far as a church we have sponsored 142 children as part of this new initiative. It’s not too late to sponsor – just ask.

For those who are already doing it, do be faithful to start writing letters and building a relationship with the child/children you are sponsoring

As I write this, our new International Cafe is in progress here at the Welcome Centre. Led by Marion Mcallister, this new event is a great chance for people who speak English as a second language to come along, make friends, and practice their English. I just stuck my head round the door and got very excited by what I saw!

Soon we will be launching our very own CAP Centre too. This project is about helping people and families to get out of debt. More details on this will follow soon – watch this space.

Good things are happening in our church  and we have a lot to be thankful for!

I’ll post some more blogs this week to detail what’s coming up in the months ahead, including information on Belonging, Life Groups and our Building Project.

An Amazing Result

This weekend saw the launch of Welcome Church’s partnership with Compassion UK – sponsoring children in the African country of Togo (click here for more info ). This launch is the latest addition to our Welcome Works initiative.

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It was great to hear from Tim Robertson about how Compassion are:

  • Jesus centred
  • Child focussed, and
  • Church based

You can find out more about this excellent ‘three cord’ approach to ministry here

Or you can hear more of what Tim said by clicking here

The result was fantastic:

On Sunday Welcome Church stepped up to sponsor 111 children in poverty

And that number is already going up. This is really something to celebrate; lives will be changed as a result. Jo and I now sponsor a 7 year old girl in Togo. We’re looking forward to sending her a letter soon.

So what do I do now?

If you sponsored a child:

In the next few days you should hear from Compassion with some introductory information and confirming your bank details etc.

Once that is all in place I would recommend doing the following:

  1. Set up a My Compassion account with Compassion UK online – this gives you all the info you need, and will link you to information about the child you sponsor, the community they are in and how you can write to them
  2. Download the Compassion UK App onto your phone/pad. You can put your account info into it and it makes everything even more accessible. You can use the app to do everything, including viewing and writing letters; you can even do it on the way to work on the train.
  3. Write to your child. Try to do it a few times a year, and don’t forget a birthday card and gift when that comes around (Compassion will remind you). If you can, why not try to write at least once a term, after all you are looking to build a relationship with them? Remember you can include photos too. If you’re unsure what to write, the Compassion website will give you some great pointers. It doesn’t need to be long, just enough to show you care. If your child is very small, it may be the parents/carers who communicate with you at first, but that will change over time.
  4. Pray for them and their family, and for the church who are running the project. Remember, this is spiritual ministry and they need your prayers.
  5. If you have kids of your own, involve them. Let them write a letter or send a photo – it’s great way for them to grasp something of God’s heart for the poor.

If you have not yet sponsored a child:

You will get another chance to step up this Sunday and next Sunday at church, so in the meantime you could listen to Tim’s talk, check out the various links above, and see if it’s something you want to do.

For £25 a month you can genuinely change a life, and help to release someone from poverty in Jesus’ name. And that’s what our church is all about: seeing lives changed and communities impacted for good by God’s grace in action.

Exciting times!