A Big Weekend

We have a big weekend ahead for Welcome Church with the appointment of three new elders, and also our Welcome Youth weekend away.

Youth

Welcome Youth are away from Friday evening through to Sunday afternoon. They have 59 young people booked to attend, and a fantastic range of events planned (most of which I’m not allowed to reveal in advance 😃)

Please do pray for them to have a fun time, a safe time and a great time of meeting with God. Please pray for the young people and please pray for the leaders as well.

Elders

On Sunday afternoon at 4pm Guy and Heather Miller (Guy leads the Commission family of churches) will be joining us as we appoint Eugene Engelbrecht, Christopher Hawes and Mike Reid as elders to join our current team. These new appointments will significantly impact our church as we move into the future together.

This afternoon event is for the whole family, and we will start with coffee and cake from 4pm. Let’s all aim to be there, and parents please do bring your kids. It should be done by 5.30pm so you won’t be late for bath and bedtime.

Prayer

Let’s be in prayer ahead of these appointments too.

In fact it’s positively Biblical for us to do that:

“Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.” (Acts 14v26)

Pray for these men, pray for their families, pray for the elders we already have and for our families too, and pray for the church at this time of change. If you’re in a position to do so, you could even give some time to prayer with fasting too.

Let’s be full of faith as we head into this big weekend for Welcome Church

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!

man-with-fireworks-769525

Time to celebrate!

Eldership Changes At Welcome Church

Welcome back! I hope you had a great summer!

Jo and I had a good break, including a relaxing holiday in Corfu. I also had a break from my blog for the Summer Season, but church life has now begun again in earnest.

Last night we had our “Vision Focus” meeting, kicking off plans for the year ahead. There are several pieces of information I could mention in the next few days, but one piece of news I wanted to share straightaway, in case you missed it, is a change to our eldership team at Welcome Church.

We do hope to be able to announce some new elders for the team soon, but we’re not quite ready to do that (perhaps that will come in early 2020), we did announce a change however.

Changing our team

As a team we’re always seeking God for the future. As we move into our new building it’s the start of a new season, and it’s only right that we seek God for His guidance; we want to be intentional about what God wants us to do in this next season together as a church.

As an eldership team, in the two years I’ve been here, we’ve been away together each year taking time to pray together, to discuss the future and to plan. We also have regular meetings together most weeks. I think we’ve achieved a lot together in the last two years and hopefully you can see the impact on the church in that time.

header-2.jpg

Our eldership team with our amazing wives

To be honest, it’s a good team and we’ve had a lot of fun together and built some good friendships – I think this was pretty obvious to those who were with us at Westpoint for our karaoke number!!!

Getting outside input

As a church we’re part of Commission, and that means we get the benefit of not working in isolation; we get input and apostolic oversight from Commission – specifically from Guy Miller. Guy has been involved in the appointment of every elder on the team. He knows us as a team and is involved.

As a team we’ve been considering what the best shape for the team is going forward, and we’ve also drawn Guy into that discussion. We’ve been trying to discern what will serve the church best as we move forward, and we are making a change as we enter this next season.

We all have different seasons of life:

pexels-photo-1591447

Seasons Change

  • In 2017 Malcolm Kayes started a new season after 27 years leading this church, stepping back from staff and eldership, and jumping into retirement
  • John Wardill also started a new season, stepping back from eldership whilst continuing to focus on his work in Turkey
  • I also started a new season, moving to Welcome Church from Grace Church.
  • Dub Everitt did that when he moved here from Jubilee Church in Shepperton a few years back

 

The point is this …

 change in church eldership teams is a normal process 

It enables new people to come through and releases others to move on into God’s next step and plans for their life. As a team we’ve recognised that its time for a change.

David Maskell

David Maskell has been on staff at this church for 18 years, and has been part of the church for 40 years – that’s a long time! For just over 4 years he has been serving as an elder. I know that he works really hard in that role and many people have benefitted from all he has done.

The change is that David is going to step down from eldership and from employment at the end of this calendar year; it will be a new season for him and also for Tina.

maskell

Tina and David

As a church we need to get ready to release him to the next season of his life.

David is not looking at retirement yet and is actively seeking his next step. He is in conversation with another Commission church, but it’s not something we can make any announcements about.

They are looking for someone with David’s skill set and they really want him, but that church need to work out if they can afford another person and have some work to do on that front. Nothing is decided, so please pray for him and Tina about that – they only want to go forward if it’s the right thing.

Whatever David’s next step is, this is going to be a huge change for the Maskell family and they will need your prayersIt’s also a huge change for us as a church to adjust to.

We know it will be a challenge for some people, not least for David and Tina having been here for so many years. It will also mean we need to make adjustments to how we deliver pastoral care as a church. David has been working on that already, with a brand new Pastoral Team taking shape, and there will still be a lot of things we need to work out for the future.

David will finish on the eldership team at the end of December and finish employment at that stage too. Obviously we need to take the time to mark that moment well when it comes, and we will do that on Sunday 22nd December during our morning meeting.

Costly

Changes like this are always costly, yet we believe that God always works things together for our good, both as individuals and as a church.

Let’s keep David and Tina in our prayers in the weeks ahead, and let’s make sure we show them that in tangible ways that they are loved and appreciated by us all.

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!)

IMG_4407

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.

nl8t7Mz

 

Goodbye Grace Church

Today has been our last Sunday at Grace Church – after more than 11 years it’s time for Jo and I to say our last goodbye (and thanks for inviting us to the goodbye party too!) I haven’t blogged during this time of leadership transition at the church, but I’ll start again now as we leave and I begin my Sabbatical. Thanks for reading!

Looking back

In 2005 God called us to move to Chichester to plant Grace Church, which we started in 2006. This has been where our family has grown up. In case anyone is unaware, we’re moving to Woking now where I will be lead elder at The Coign Church; there are exciting times ahead.

Looking back I’m so glad that we responded positively to God’s call; God has done so much! It’s been our joy to see three congregations established: Chichester, Bognor Regis and Midhurst. More will follow I’m sure! It’s been our joy to see God at work in so many ways, and now he is calling on us on. I’m sure it will be our joy to see him at work in Woking too.

We want to say thank you to each person at Grace Church for the part they have played along the way. Thank you for friendship, commitment, encouragement and support. As we leave we feel very encouraged and very well sent! God has done so much, and there’s still so much more to come.

Moving on

The main reason for moving on is simply that God has called us to; it’s obedience. But there are benefits for a church when a leader moves on too, for example:

  • All leaders have their faults: we all have blind spots and weaknesses, as well as our strengths; change can be a blessing!
  • It creates room for other gifts to emerge: when a leader moves on it creates space for other people to emerge
  • It multiplies leadership: Grace Church has a great eldership team now, David supported by many other leaders too. David has come into his own as a lead elder. The church is going to do fine without us
  • It keeps the church fresh: New ideas and initiatives will find space and be released to flourish

And if God calls us to move on and we don’t do it, it could result in some problems:

  • Stagnation: a loss of the fresh cutting edge
  • Loss of anointing: a lack of God’s power and blessing on the task

Ultimately, when leaders stay beyond their God given time, what has been built can be damaged! So there are benefits to leadership changes in church life, and we’ll see those in Grace Church as we go.

Some final words

In my talk today I pointed three final words: Love, Obedience & Truth.

Love:

Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this will all people know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” – John 13v34-35

Love for Jesus can overcome all barrier, so love one another, accept one another, bear with one another and forgive one another!

What enables us to do that? The certainty that we are loved ourselves: “We love because he first loved us” – 1 John 4v19

Obedience:

Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments” – John 14v15

The first command we obey is the command to love one another, rooted in a love for God; all the rest of our obedience flows from that. If you love Jesus, obey him. Our obedience is a demonstration of our love. We need to obey what Jesus calls us to do; we need to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

When we walk in obedience we walk in confidence; when we walk in disobedience, nothing feels right. There is no joy for a Christian living in disobedience to God. In his presence is fulness of joy; if you don’t have joy, whose presence are you spending your time in???

Truth: 

Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8v31-32.

True freedom comes by knowing the truth. Truth is not all relative! Truth is not unknowable! Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and life” – John 14v6. Jesus is the truth, and Jesus is knowable. You can find answers for life that are absolutely true, in Jesus.

The best way to avoid being deceived by lies is to know the truth, so learn the truth, read the truth, listen to the truth, meditate on the truth, obey the truth. The Bible is God’s word, and God’s word is truth, and it all points to Jesus and Jesus is truth!

 

A world to reach

We have a world to reach with the good news of Jesus. People need to see the love of God in us and feel the love of God through us. People need to see us living lives of sacrificial obedience to God, even when it’s costly. People need to see that the truth we have is impacting our world and our lives for good.

Screen Shot 2017-04-30 at 15.21.18Most people will only experience the presence of God through us; you and I are the closest to Jesus they will ever get unless they also come to faith in Jesus for themselves! And for that to happen it is vital that we are living lives of love, obedience and truth.

So that’s three final words to remember: Love … Obedience … Truth.

And as far as my ministry at Grace Church goes …

… that’s your LOT!

 

Handing over: feeling excited … and a little bit sad

Wednesday 11th January is a massive day for me personally:

happy-05It’s the day I hand over the Lead Eldership role at Grace Church to David Thompson. This moment feels quite exciting: it’s like like the starter pistol marking the beginning of a race; it’s the first step on our journey to a new destination; it’s the commencement of our new adventure. Woo hoo!

enhanced-1014-1422325554-19

My Inner Baby

I’m excited about the future, and about the many things ahead for us, and at the same time I do feel a genuine measure of sadness at letting go after 11 years in the role.

 

Two Reminders

At the start of this week I want to remind Grace Church people of two things:

1. Wednesday Evening is important

I want to remind you of the importance of Wednesday evening’s meeting. It will begin at 7.30pm at St Pancras Church building in Chichester. John Groves will come and lead us through the evening together, and I’m told there are going to be cupcakes … nice!

georgetown-cupcakes-fb

Cupcakes!!! Will ours look this good???

It would be great if every family in the church could be represented on the evening. Let’s show David and Ali our full support.

This is a significant moment

  • It’s significant for David and his family. Let’s pray for him and seek God for fresh anointing for this new role
  • It’s significant for Grace Church. We will receive a new Lead Elder who will lead the church into the future
  • It’s significant to me. I feel privileged to have someone to hand on to, who I am confident will do a great job; I don’t take that for granted, and I’m looking forward to being on David’s team until the end of April.

And on that note, let me remind you of a second thing …

2. Why we believe David is the right person for the job

Back when we made this announcement I listed ten reasons why we felt David was the right person for this role. Here are those ten reasons again:

  1. There is apostolic agreement to David stepping up; it seems good to the people who oversee our eldership team
  2. David has been ready to lead his own church for some time now; in fact if he wasn’t doing it here, he would be moving before long to do it elsewhere
  3. David’s own sense of calling; David feels a personal call to take the role on and is already developing a clear vision and strategy for the future
  4. The eldership team are united in agreement with David’s sense of calling; we have faith that this is the right way forward for Grace Church
  5. Shared values: David is already part of the team here; we have shared values. It doesn’t mean nothing will change in how we do things, but at the level of beliefs and values there will be continuity – Grace Church will continue to be Grace Church as you know and love it
  6. Shared history: David knows this church; he knows the people and how we came to be who we are. David has been here for two thirds of our churches life so far; he’s not new

    529623_608766725806262_1633096164_n

    “I’d rather have a cupcake”

  7. Ongoing community relationships: David has good ongoing links built with other church leaders in our area; he’s been doing that far more than me – it’s good not to be starting from scratch again
  8. The future needs of this church: to move forward well and continue to pioneer well, we need clear strategy, we need good systems that work and we need to continue to raise and release leaders; we believe David does those things well
  9. Understanding of our church: multisite is unusual; not just anyone could come and lead it well; David understands who we are and how we work – you can’t put a value on that!
  10. David is already leading a lot of the church: as elders we work as a team; it’s never been a one man show; he’s been doing a large portion of the job already!

That’s quite a list, and if I could add an 11th reason to the list I would say that it just feels right to me personally

216117_10150232548995786_3416878_n

“It’s safe to come down now; Steve’s finished talking about you.”

Confidence!

I’m confident that God is leading this change … and because I’m confident that God is leading the change, I’m also confident that the future will be better for Grace Church than if we were to stay.

This is a good move.

This is a God move.

I believe there are exciting and fruitful times ahead for us all!

Go Grace Church!

 

 

New Year – New Beginnings

2017 is going to be year of huge changes and of new beginnings for Grace Church, and also for me and my family personally!

clq38olwqae_zmr

David Thompson – captain of the ship!

Next week, on Wednesday 11th January,  I will be handing over the Lead Eldership at Grace Church to David Thompson, and although I feel a measure of sadness as one phase of my own life heads towards its close, I’m also excited at the new beginnings!

I’m excited for new beginnings at Grace Church:

This is a God initiated change and it’s going to be good for the church. David has all sorts of ideas and plans to help the church move into the future; he is very ready for his new role and I’m excited for him too.

I’m excited for new beginnings for my family:

We have a whole new chapter ahead for us in a new location and a new house. I’m pleased that we’re moving nearer to London, although we will miss being near the sea and close to some of Jo’s family. It will be good to have new places to discover and new people to meet. We are ready for our new adventure together!

img_7220

The Petch Family: ready for some new beginnings

I’m excited for new beginnings personally:

I will have a new church to lead and to love. I will have a new team to work with. I will have new challenges to face and new opportunities to pursue. And before I start in the new role I also have another new experience to enjoy: a sabbatical break. I’m getting excited just thinking about the possibilities this creates for renewal and refreshment before my own new role begins.

That’s a lot of new beginnings, but one thing that is ending soon is our current preaching series.

It comes to an end on Sunday 8th Jan. This is the last preaching series I will lead Grace Church through, and it was built around one key verse:

cukmlifwiaegalu

As we go into this New Year together, although for many of us there will be a parting of the ways as the year goes by, let’s remember that we are each in God’s hands; he has plans for us and it’s our privilege to walk in them. God’s promises are true and reliable for each of us, whatever direction he is leading us in.

Let’s each actively embrace this new beginning:

Please join us on Wednesday 11th when we are appointing David to his new role. It’s at 7.30pm at St Pancras Church in Chichester, and John Groves will be leading us through the evening. This is a great chance for each of us to show our love and support for David and Ali as the changes take effect.

Remember: this has spiritual impact!

What we are doing is not insignificant and it affects the whole future of the church. We can’t afford to be casual about it! Come ready to pray and to encourage! Come ready to play your part as we step into this new beginning together.