READ ALL ABOUT IT!
EXCITING CHURCH SHAPING NEWS!
On Wednesday evening (16th November) we had a special meeting at Grace Church with Guy Miller and John Groves, during which we announced some big changes. For anyone who missed it here is the news …
On a mission together
Events like Westpoint are shaping for us as a church and as a group of churches. Together we have a vision,
“to see thousands of lives transformed though hundreds of churches in tens of nations”
Grace Church is part of that vision; we have a part to play in Commission.
A vision like thais doesn’t get fulfilled without some cost and some challenges along the way; it doesn’t happen without us sending people!
From small beginnings
When Grace Church began, over ten years ago now, it started with a small handful of people, all of whom relocated from other churches; there was a cost involved in starting what we now enjoy today and other people paid that price for us!
Jo and myself and our kids were part of that original group; we led Grace Church from day one. In 2006 we moved here from Billingshurst Family Church, which we’d planted a few years before. That church is still going strong today and doing far better than it ever did when we were there, but it was was painful at the time for the church to send us; it was costly to them and also for us.
One of our first Grace Church meetings
We had lunch together every week when we started
We will miss Richard …
Grace Church has been a fun adventure so far!
Jo and I have great memories formed over a decade. We’ve made some great friends, and we’ve also sent some great friends off to different places. There have been lots of sending moments; people whose time with us reached an end and who God had plans for elsewhere – that’s part of how his kingdom grows.
And now we are announcing another sending, only this time it won’t be me who is doing the sending
this time Jo and I are the ones being sent!
God is calling us on, so for the Petch family our time at Grace Church will soon be over.
Petch Family on holiday – can you tell where it is?
Jo and I have felt for a while that this moment might be coming.
They way I would describe it is a sense that our roots have been loosened. Going into this year I felt that I probably needed to take a Sabbatical break at some point. I felt that perhaps we needed to hit “refresh”, and then either come back here and dig in with fresh vision for the next decade, or else see if God had another plan. In the midst of our thinking and praying we believe that God has spoken to us.
It started in May this year when Guy Miller chatted to us and asked if we would be willing to consider relocating and taking on the leadership of a church in Woking called the Coign Church. (Coign is an old English word for ‘cornerstone’)
Jo and I said we would be willing to consider the move …
… and we did … prayerfully.
We’ve been seeking to hear God’s direction for our lives. We really wanted to be led by the Spirit and not merely by human wisdom. Over this time we’ve felt that God is speaking to us in various ways. I won’t list everything here but one key moment was when Chris Kimbangi was preaching at Grace Church back in June. He used the phrase,
Chris Kimbangi Preaching
“If not you, then who; if not now, then when.”
At a spiritual level that really struck home for me; I felt like God was saying that phrase just to me.
Another key moment was at Westpoint this year, when Phil Moore was speaking. As he talked about being
Jo and I both new that it applied to us; we knew we needed to say yes to God. There are other prophetic things we could mention, but I’ll stop at those two for now.
So the eldership team at the Coign have let their church know that they intend to invite me to come and pick up the lead eldership.
This is huge for us as a family!
We have a house move ahead, and there are many other implications for our family too. It impacts on every area of our lives; this is not something we’re doing lightly.
Owen, Phoebe and Zac
There are implications for our kids: although they are now adults in their own right, their life stage means that they are still dependent on us, so they will move with us.
So what will happen to the leadership at Grace Church?
As an eldership team we’ve talked about this a lot. Certainly it’s not down to me to crown a successor as I see fit; this sort of decision needs far more input and involvement than just me.
Being part of Commission means that we get Apostolic input and shaping from gifted men like Guy and John, and we’ve done a lot of talking! Through our conversations we’ve become clear about the way forward:
We are convinced that David Thompson is the right person to take over the lead eldership at Grace Church and lead into the future.
As a team we believe this change will be great for the church. And because we’re confident that God is leading this change, we’re also confident that, just like with Billingshurst, the future will be better for the church than if Jo and I were to stay.
Let God build your faith too!
So with Guy Miller’s apostolic shaping and input, and with John Grove’s oversight, wisdom and care, we are proposing that David should be the next Lead Elder here. As with any eldership appointment if you have concerns or thoughts please chat to us. It’s important for us to know we have your support. David needs to be received in order to lead, so please don’t only talk to us if you’re worried! If you’re happy or excited, tell us that too!
It’s great to lead a church who are so open and receptive to change. Thanks for your encouragements so far!
The way we anticipate things happening is like this:
- I will carry on as the Lead Elder through Christmas and into the start of the New Year, and then on Wednesday January 11th I’ll hand over to David. We’ll gather the church together that evening and we’ll pray for David and the family and officially appoint him to the role. John Groves will join us and lead us through the evening.
- Until the end of April I’ll still be here; David and I will work together for a while, me as part of his team; I want to pass the baton to him well.
- From Monday 1st May I will go on my Sabbatical break, and when I come back to work it will not be at Grace Church; we hope to move house during that period too. So I’ll preach at Grace Church for the last time, and finish my eldership here, on April 30th
Personally Jo and I want you to know we will miss you …
… but we’re not gone yet! Let’s enjoy these next five and a half months together and make some more fun memories. And please do pray for us.
I want you to know that I have faith for this change: faith for our own move and faith for Grace Church going forward. Let God build your faith too – and remember, this sort of transition is key to the kingdom of God moving forward.
No trophies …
Leadership of a church is not a trophy; it’s a baton. As leaders in a church we are stewards of something for a season, and then we must pass it on to the next person; we pass the baton on like a relay race. I did that once before at Billingshurst, and I’m thrilled that I’m in a position to do that here too.
Passing the baton well to the next person is just as important as the leadership we bring when we are carrying the baton ourselves, maybe even more so. We don’t want to drop it, or hold on to it for too long, or let go grudgingly.There is no success without a successor!
Our greatest joy lies in the future success of Grace Church, after we’ve gone.
So Jo and I are excited about the future. We would love you to stand with us in prayer and in friendship as things move forward.
And if you want a bit more information, here is a link to a video we’ve created for the church that gives more detail about the changes and the future.