UPDATED!!! Building Community Together

DETAILS FOR SUNDAY EVENING’S ONLINE COMMUNION HAVE CHANGED BECAUSE THE PRIME MINISTER WILL ADDRESS THE NATION AT 7PM – SEE BELOW FOR UPDATED DETAILS

Coronavirus, social distancing and lockdown have created challenges for us all, including a sense of isolation. I’ve certainly had some ‘down’ days along the way and I know others have too.

There will be things we’re each missing, and one I’ve heard mentioned often is that people are missing meeting together in person as a church community. In response I want to highlight two things we’ve got planned to help us connect together.

Evening Communion

This Sunday (10th May) at 6.00pm (please note new time), we will hold ‘online communion’ together. Everyone is invited to join us for a ‘Welcome Church, Come As You Are, Online Communion’.

We will do this on Zoom, and all the details are shown in the picture:

communion

 

Everyone is welcome. Come as you are. Come as a family. You don’t have to be part of Welcome Church to join in; just bring your faith and an open heart.

At the end of our time together we’ll take communion, so please be ready with bread and wine (or Ribena or grape juice or whatever you’ve got). Please don’t worry too much what it is or put yourself at risk to get something.

The items that we use are always symbolic of a greater reality; what counts is being together as one body of people with Jesus at the centre. Jesus is the ‘bread’ we all share. His death for us is what we remember.

This is a great way for us to be together in the presence of Jesus

Virtual Coffee

Community is so important to us that as well as being able to post comments and to share “hearts” in the chat area during the meeting itself, we’ve now introduced “Virtual Coffee” after both the 9am and 11am meetings, for about half an hour. Please do grab yourself a drink and then come and join us online for a ‘Virtual Coffee’ and chat.

Everyone is welcome to join in – just log on and be friendly. If you’re new to our church or connecting from another town or even another country, you’re welcome too. Come and say hi for half and hour or so, and let’s build community, get to know one another and have virtual coffee.

Again, the details are in the picture:

Image 09-05-2020 at 09.47

Welcome Church Begins

Today is a new day for us as a church: we have now become Welcome Church.

Logo_Color_previewWe’ve been working towards this as a church for some months now, and the day has finally arrived! The new name reflects our new identity and culture as a church, which I have attempted to explain below.

We summarise our approach to church life in four simple words:

Belong, Believe, Become, Together.

Belong

So we say, “Come as you are”

There are no perfect people at Welcome Church; we are all recipients of the love, acceptance and inclusion offered by Jesus Christ, who makes us friends of God and friends with each other. Because of Him we can come with all our questions, doubts and struggles. We can belong together, experiencing God’s grace in action.

We are people of grace!

Believe

So we say, “Know how loved you are”

As we journey together, we seek to know God as our loving Father, His son Jesus as our friend and saviour and the Holy Spirit’s life and power within us. We believe Jesus has the answers to this world’s challenges, so we are learning what it means to trust and to follow him.

We are people of faith!

Become

So we say, “Become who you were created to be”

We believe that God has a purpose for every one of us, and that He created us all with a unique identity. As we follow Jesus we want to find God’s purpose for our lives and learn about the identity he has for us. We want to become who God created us to be and to live that out.

We are people of identity!

Together

So we say, “Find your place”

Together we are God’s church and we each have a part to play. Jesus has restored us to a relationship with God as our loving Father and he wants us to have good relationships with one another as well. Together we seek to show the love of Jesus to everyone, both those who are part of the church, and those who are not.

We are people of community.

By living these values out, we aim to fulfil our mission:

“To share God’s Grace in Action with all people for all of life.”

And we pray that we will see our vision fulfilled:

“To see lives changed and communities impacted for good through God’s Grace in Action”

Want to know more? Get in touch with us.

Want to join us on a Sunday? We meet at 9am and at 11am at the HG Wells Conference Centre in Woking.

Check out our new website too: www.allwelcome.uk

And remember: It matters that you’re here.

It Matters

Changing our name

As a church we’re changing our name, and introducing a new vision statement and a new mission statement, and also a new logo and artwork

Why make a change at all?

The Coign has been our name and identity for many years – first as The Coign fellowship and then as The Coign Church – and during those years God has hugely blessed this church. Lots of good stuff has happened, so let’s be quick to honour the past and let’s be thankful to God.

baby nameThat said, the idea of changing the name has been well received and even expected. My predecessor, Malcolm Kayes, told me he planned to change the name when the new building was completed, and that was hoped to be a while ago!

 

Of course, whilst no name is perfect, a good name can be a great tool for us to connect with the culture around us. It can be even better if we have a name that reflects the culture of our church too; a name that communicates to people about who we are and helps to draw people in.

The process

Choosing a name has been a long process. It began with a Listening Tour in our church, conducted during September to November 2017, shortly after I arrived. During the Listening Tour I asked four key questons:

  1. What is one thing I need to know about the church?
  2. What is one way we will reach new people?
  3. What is one dream you have for the church?
  4. What is one thing you are afraid I might do?

Those questions gave everyone a chance to speak into the process, albeit without knowing it, and they were hugely informative, after all – we need a name that reflects our intended culture and our aspirations.

Getting help

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Paul Graves

We then engaged the help of Paul Graves from seeseven.com. He’s a branding specialist, and a pastor in a church in Seattle. He’s also a friend of one of our trustees and originates from Basingstoke – so he’s as British as fish and chips! Working with Paul, we drew together a small and diverse team to look at the whole area of branding and naming.

 

Focus Groups and Seeking God

Along the way, Paul conducted a series of eight Focus Groups with us, which included all sorts of people from across the whole spectrum of the church  and also included people from outside our church; people from local politics, from church leadership and from the volunteer sector too. We were looking for “quality of data” rather than “quantity of input” at that stage,  which meant that not everyone could be involved, although everyone had already had a chance to input during the Listening Tour.

The focus groups gave great insight into how we are currently viewed as a church, some of the challenges we face, and also the aspirations we hold for ourselves, and out of all that data we began to recognise a simple clear contender for the new name … it actually came really easily.

At the same time, as a team, we were praying and asking God to speak prophetically, and we believe He has many times: to us as individuals, to and through Paul Graves, through prophetic contributions in meetings, through the focus groups, through wisdom and a sense of peace, and in prayer meetings too.

Making the call

So in the end, as an Eldership Team, we reached a decision on the name, and it was honestly a very easy call to make; we were simply confirming a unanimous sense of what everyone involved in the project believed God was saying to us.

So we’re changing the name of our church to: Welcome Church”

Logo_Color_preview

The first Sunday under our new name will be Sunday 20th May, and between now and then we have some work to do to change a lot of things! The change is not now a secret, but we’re planning the publicity to start from May 14th onwards.

Incidentally, if you wonder where you’ve heard the name before, it’s the same name that Graham and Kimberley Allen, sent out from our church, gave to the church they planted in Austin Texas. Although our choice of name and our whole process was completely independent from that. I’ve spoken to Graham and he’s very pleased.

More than a name

Our new name is more than just a name; it’s something that reflects our whole culture, identity and purpose.

Let’s remember why we exist: we’re not here for our own benefit; the church has a mission! We exist to make disciples of all nations! We exist to serve this town and to reach out in love to people with the good news of Jesus.

That’s why we’ve come up with a new ‘strapline’ to go with our name, a strapline that captures some of the essence of the culture and message we want to communicate to people: “It matters that you’re here”

It Matters

Jesus has a purpose for each of our lives. Every person is precious to God. It matters that YOU exist; it matters that you’re here!

Jesus has a purpose for our church too, and that purpose is not about us being warm and comfortable in a nicely ordered church meeting! There are thousands of people in Woking who God is calling us to serve and reach out to with his love and grace, and we’ve hardly begun. We each have a part to play; it matters that you’re here.

A new vision

In my next blog I’ll talk about our new vision statement and our new mission statement, but that’s enough information for one blog!

 

Belong … Believe … Behave

I’ve enjoyed our recent preaching series called, “Why I Love The Church”. Each week has served as reminder to me of the beauty of God’s awesome church.

 

Come as you are

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One concept we looked at was creating a “Come as you are” culture in our church. That’s huge! As people who have received grace and mercy from God, our church should be the most loving, accepting and welcoming place in town!

This will have some huge implications for how we do church life together …

Think about our mission as a church. We want people to …

  1. Believe: We really do. We want them to believe in Jesus: John 3v16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son so that whoever believes him might not perish but have eternal life”
  2. Belong: We want people to belong to our church family: 1 Cor 12v27 – “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” 
  3. Behave: It’s not an ideal word, but it starts with a ‘B’. We want to help people become more like Jesus – we want every believer, as Eph 4v1 puts it, to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received”

But what order do we put these three words in?

This is more important and challenging than its ever been!

UK culture has changed a lot in the last ten years!

The gospel hasn’t changed, Jesus hasn’t changed, people haven’t changed, the Bible hasn’t changed, truth hasn’t changed … but culture has changed.

So we need to consider our approach!

If we went to another nation with a mission agency they would give us cross cultural training … I think we may now need cross cultural training to reach the UK!

Some churches do it this way: Behave … Believe … Belong

socialexclusionSo, if you’re the right sort of person: reasonably wealthy, with an outwardly moral lifestyle and a stable family, someone might invite you to church. If you come you might hear the gospel. And down the line, if you commit your life to Christ and get baptised, you might be allowed to belong to the church family.

The trouble is, we won’t see many come to know Jesus that way!

Other churches do it like this: Believe … Behave … Belong

Im-a-Mess-T-Shirt-Worn-Free-Tee-Black_1024x1024They reach out to anyone, regardless of their background, and recognise that we can’t expect people who are not yet Christians to live a Christian lifestyle.

And once people decide to follow Jesus discipleship begins. Once the big issues are sorted out in their lives they are ‘allowed’ to get baptised and ultimately to join the church.

This is better, but it’s less effective than it used to be, because people with messy lives are still going to struggle to connect.

We also run the danger of teaching people a set of Christian rules, instead of teaching them to follow Jesus!

But more and more churches are finding that to win people for Jesus today we need to order it like this: Belong … believe … behave.

This means helping people to find a place in our church family before they come to faith in Jesus. I’m not redefining church membership here, I’m simply saying is that we need to accept people, just as they are, and allow them to find a place in our church family before they come to faith. In today’s culture this is vital, because people need to know they are accepted, before they’re willing to listen to our message.

belong

When people know they are accepted, they are more willing to listen to our message.

People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care!

Once people have received the gospel and opened their lives to Jesus, once they have believed in him, then their life begins to change. Not because we hot them with a set of rules, but because the Holy Spirit is at work to transform them; they begin to live a life worthy of the calling they have received, albeit with many trips and stumbles along the way … and we need to be okay with the trips and stumbles too.

But is this Biblical? Is it really okay?

I think this is exactly what Jesus modelled for us, for example:

  • When he met Zacchaeus (Luke 19v1-10)
  • When he met the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4v1-42)

Won’t we be misunderstood?

phariseesProbably – but until religious people are scandalised by the radical grace we show to those who are far from God … until pharisaical people are questioning the company we keep … until, like Jesus, we are accused of being a ‘friends of sinners’ …

we’re not really representing Jesus very well.