Riding the waves

It’s an interesting season at Welcome Church right now with our new building up and running for Sundays; it’s like we’re riding a big wave.

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The Launch Sunday was certainly a day to remember with huge numbers of guests. After our Launch Sunday I really wondered what would happen next.

Would any guests actually come back? 

Would the tide go back out?

In fact we’ve actually seen lots of new people with us every week since then.

Our first baptism meeting was a great Sunday too, with seventeen people being baptised across the two meetings, each wanting to publicly show that they’ve committed their life to Jesus! There were many extra guests with us that week too.

God is impacting lives through Welcome Church, and it’s such a privilege to witness it. Some have come to faith in Jesus, others are at various stages on their journey. I would love us to keep riding this wave together.

The key part that Alpha plays

Whatever place people have reached in their journey of faith, Alpha is an exciting place for them to be. Each week great food is served, good friendships are built and personal faith grows.

Here are some eye opening statistics to consider: nine of the seventeen people baptised last week were on our Alpha+ course which finished last week, and a further five Alpha+ guests are booked in to be baptised on Easter Sunday.

Those statistics tell a compelling story!

Try Alpha

Our TRY ALPHA evening on Wednesday 26th February is really important for us all. We each have the opportunity to invite friends, family, neighbours and colleagues to come along to this evening to give Alpha a try. Your guests will have a brilliant time, so let’s go for it in faith.

Let me really encourage you, in this season of seeing lots of people coming to faith, to do three simple yet crucial things:

  1. PRAY: pray for courage and for opportunity, and pray for God to move as you take a step of faith
  2. SHARE: share the TRY ALPHA video on Social Media. Here is a link to it on Facebook, and here is one for Instagram.
  3. INVITE: invite people personally to come to TRY ALPHA with you. Do aim to bring them along; don’t just expect people to go without you.

When you hear that “Yes” to your invitation, don’t forget to book your place here at www.allwelcome.uk/alpha – it’s easy to do.

Who knows what God may do as we all take these three steps to invite the people God has placed in our lives? Let’s ride this wave together.

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.

The Challenges Of Being Somewhere New

We’re enjoying living in Woking, and not only because of starting at The Coign Church. Of course there are lots of challenges moving somewhere new, though most of mine appear to be food related – for example:

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It’s all a bit alien to me!

  • Finding my way round a new supermarket (harder work than it should be)
  • Deciding where to go out for a meal (Pizza Express – it’s literally next door to the Coign building)
  • Deciding where to buy a sandwich (had a calzone from a street vendor in Market Walk – nice!!!)
  • Understanding the food waste recycling system (a new concept for us)
  • Almost creating an ‘international incident’ when trying to buy goat (yes, really) for some Indian visitors after Westpoint (we ended up with lamb and we liked it)
  • And finally (non-food related) trying to find a post office … and then trying to negotiate the queue …

It feels odd not knowing where everything is, especially when the road layout seems to change almost daily!

So praise God for the church!

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Let the preaching commence!

We’re absolutely loving getting to know The Coign and, although we’re new, so many things already feel very familiar to us.

I’ve enjoyed starting our new preaching series: “Why I Love The Church”. Do get the free download of week 1 if you missed it; part 2 this Sunday.

I’ve enjoyed seeing ‘normal church life’ taking place all around me: worship, community groups, prayer meetings, pastoral care, youth work, kids work, team meetings, elders meetings, planning for alpha and so much more.

I even enjoyed getting my car washed as part of a fund raiser for three young people  setting off to do year teams, although I think the cars weren’t the only thing that got soaked …

 

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And talking of getting soaked …

What a joy to see people being baptised on Sunday evening

Sharon, Marcus, Clara and Karam each made the step of being baptised. The testimonies were great, with Karam’s even reducing grown men to tears. Dub then preached excellently and we ended up praying for lots of people too. Apologies for the quality of the photos:

 

 

Baptisms are a  sign that God has been at work in our church, and I believe he will carry on blessing us as we go into the future too.

So let’s pray for many more baptisms in the months ahead!

Spontaneous Baptisms!

I was really thrilled that we had baptisms planned for our recent Grace Church 10th birthday party. I love it when we baptise people; it’s a great sign that God is at work in both them as individuals and in us as a church!

A watershed moment

If you’ll pardon the pun, baptism is a watershed moment:

  • It’s a public declaration that we belong to Jesus and our life is now in him. “If anyone is in Christ they are a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Cor 5v17)
  • It’s a sign that our old life has died with Jesus and that we have a new life in him now, “We were buried with Jesus by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Rom 6v4)

Lots of fun, lots of water and the thrill of a life changed forever!

Extra trunks…

In the run up to the party David Thompson made a suggestion: “Why don’t you publicly ask on the day, after you’ve spoken, if there are any other people who want to get baptised right now?”

I’d never done that before, but I don’t mind taking a risk so we came up with a plan: spare towels, extra swimming shorts and some Grace Church t-shirts … and I would make the ask at the end of the talk. Would there be that extra person who would respond right there and then?

On the day I was delighted with the response. Two baptisms became six baptisms in the space of three minutes. God must clearly be doing something among us.

So here are some photos of those baptisms:

Going under

And Rob’s was more eventful than the others (bottom left photo). As David and Andy baptised Rob, David somehow slipped down the slope towards the deep end. Rob came back up fine, but David somehow disappeared under the water … which got the biggest cheer of the whole day!

I’m sure it was nothing personal, and I’m pleased to say we now have David back safe and dry!

And if you want to get baptised next time, just let us know! We’ll try not to follow you under …