Ten Years of Grace, and so much more to come

Grace Church is ten years old!

We officially launched the church on June 10th 2006! A lot has happened since then, and looking back I have a mix of memories … some good, some sad, some downright hilarious.

Over those ten years we’ve grown from a small group of pioneers to a church with three Sunday congregations, meeting in Chichester, Bognor Regis and Midhurst.

Over those ten years a lot of people have been a part of the journey.

Some have been along for the whole ride; others have joined us along the way.

Some came and went. Others came and went and came back again.

And some stayed with us until Jesus took them home.

We have former members who we’ve sent off in faith to many different places in this nation and also to various nations around the globe, from Australia to the Middle East. One of my main reflections on the last ten years is this: life moves pretty fast. I find it hard to believe we’ve been here that long! I’m tempted to quote Ferris Bueller:

Ferris Bueller | Grace Church 10 Year Birthday | Chichester Midhurst Bognor Regis | Steve Petch Blog

This world isn’t our ultimate home

But my main thought on the speed of life passing is not that we should ‘stop and look around’ for ‘fear of missing it’, but rather that we should remember that this world is not our ultimate home; we are citizens of heaven.

Although this blog won’t be uploaded today, I’m writing it on June 10th 2016, which is the actual day of our tenth anniversary. And today, as well as a birthday, we also have a funeral.

Peter, part of our Midhurst congregation, recently died of lung cancer. Today we are burying him. David Thompson is taking his funeral and lots of the Midhurst site will be there to support his wife, Helen, and the family friends who will gather to remember him. They will be there to give thanks and to mourn.

Life is passing

Birthday parties and funerals are both a reminder that life is passing. So the question becomes,

Are we using ours well?

How actively are we pursuing God’s call on our lives?

The last ten years have passed in a flash, but there is nothing I would rather have spent them doing than building this church in response to Jesus’ call on my life.

And for Peter, the good news is that his story is not over. Philippians 3v20-21 says this,

“Our citizenship is in heaven, and from there we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body …”

What a promise! Sown in weakness; raised in glory!

Looking to the future

So far God has given us ten wonderful years of grace as a church, and there is so much more to come. God has more grace for us in the future, both as a church and as individuals: grace for this life and grace for eternity – resurrection life, new bodies, new heavens, new earth, every tear wiped away, the dwelling of God with man…

So lets live this life in the light of eternity.

Lets build his church to reach as many people as possible.

Lets remember that God’s grace to us is never going to run out.

Steve’s Travels – loving the church

I’ve been away from Grace Church on a couple of Sundays recently, but in case you think I’ve been slacking off …

March 13th

I preached at Westminster Chapel, London – a fantastic Commission Church in the heart of London, surrounded by a city of around 8.5 million people.

Steve Petch at Westminster Chapel - Steve Petch BlogJo came with me and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. While I was preaching someone was running a meeting for new members in another room – definitely a good sign!

I preached on a favourite subject: “Passion for the Church”, just click on the link if you want to listen.

March 20th

I preached at East Beach Evangelical Church, Selsey – another great church, this one based in a seaside location, surrounded by a town of around 10,000 people.

The church has a gifted new leader (go Phil!) and has seen some good recent growth and even had to take a wall down to make space for the extra people. Baptisms are planned and I’m enjoying helping this church build links with Commission.

Again I preached on a favourite subject: “Passion for the Church.”

Love Local Church - Steve Petch Blog

So, why did I pick the same topic for both churches, despite their very different situations? Well, because I believe that the call to love and build the church needs to be heard by every believer in every generation. It transcends our geographical location. To quote Bill Hybels,

“The local church is the hope of the world”

If we are living our life as God intended then it will be unmistakably marked by a passion for the church.

Jesus loves the church

Jesus is building his church

Jesus knows each church individually

Jesus is coming back for his church – his plans for the church will last into eternity