A Turning Point for Westminster Chapel
Many of the regular readers of our blog will be aware of our previous announcement that Greg Haslam officially retired from his role as Senior Pastor of Westminster Chapel at the end of May. In our staff team, and among the congregation, we daily feel the gap that has been left by Greg and Ruth: such dynamic, fun and Godly examples who’ve done a great work in our church!
And, it is on this strong foundation, laid by the Haslams and many before them, we intend to build.
We wanted to use this post to let you know a little more about our plans, our hopes and where we see our church going. We’re excited, and we hope you will be too! We believe change is God’s way of getting us to step up a gear; to shift from what’s comfortable and ‘known’ into something altogether greater; of getting us to try new things and take bigger risks: all for the sake of making His name known in our capital city.
Here, we’ll outline some of the changes and focus-shifts coming up. These will start happening anytime now, and we hope you’ll get on board with them; whether you’re a regular, or thinking of trying us out. As you’ll see we have a big vision and would love you to get on board with us as we seek to make Jesus impossible to ignore. Join us!
1. Eldership Team!
For the first time in the church’s history (as far as we know), we’ll be appointing a team of elders: godly men, who will form a team that leads the church. Howard Satterthwaite, our current Executive Director, following an overwhelming majority vote by church members, will serve as Lead Elder, and will work to appoint a team as soon as possible.
2. Apostolic Base!
Howard, and his wife Holly, will be supported by Guy and Heather Miller. Guy leads Commission, the sphere of churches (within Newfrontiers) we are a part of. They will semi-relocate to London in January to give a third of their time to help us to become a flagship church, resourcing and launching trajectories of mission across London and the world.
We are extremely excited about this and see it as key step towards seeing our church filled to overflowing and dozens more churches planted and restored, especially in London.
We will of course continue to receive support from the Commission apostolic team, and in particular Malcolm Kayes (leader of Coign Church in Woking) who has been a tremendous blessing to us throughout the succession process.
3. Body Ministry!
Westminster Chapel has always had phenomenal preachers serving in the pulpit, but we feel that as time has gone on, God has highlighted to us that forming a team to equip the body to serve will be vital to our church’s growth in the season ahead. The Big Name we want our church to be known for is Jesus. We want the lost, the last and the least to come because God is powerfully moving in and through his people. And so what we need now is every one of our members doing their bit: using their gifts to serve God. We need a gifted eldership team but we equally need every member to realise that they too play a pivotal role.
4. One Service!
We want to inject some momentum into Sundays by focusing our energies on one excellent service: a growth engine for our church in every sense of the word.
The Chapel has always had the tradition of two Sunday services. They served its historic ‘preaching centre’ approach well; many came to faith and were strengthened through the ministry of great preachers at a time when Christianity had more favour in society.
Things have changed. God is calling us to be more than a preaching centre to impact our now significantly secularised society. The church we see is an evangelistic, equipping mission base (like Antioch and Ephesus) that shares the gospel, makes disciples, serves (the poor in) London and plants churches.
We need to adjust our Sunday services to advance this mission, and better steward our resources. For the foreseeable future, as of Sunday, 7th August 2016, we’ve closed our 5:30pm evening service in order to focus our efforts on developing an outstanding 11am service that people are excited to bring non-Christians to, that doesn’t compromise on Biblical Truth and strengthens believers.
This is not a backward step but a strategic advance. It will take some of the pressure off our precious Ministry Teams, and allow them, together with the Leadership Team, to give more time and attention to make this one service excellent.
5. Training Academy!
Having one service will also allow us to make better use of Sunday afternoons in two ways.
First, creating space for us to invest in Ministry Leaders and for Ministry Leaders to gather and support the people serving in their teams.
Second, trialling a training and discipleship academy, running courses to equip our people to read the Bible, pray, breakthrough stronghold sin issues, identify and develop spiritual gifts (e.g. prophecy), share the gospel, and grow in leadership. These will help people connect and build friendships as they interact with what they’re learning in a more experiential way.
6. Community Service!
We were so thrilled when John Groves came to speak at the Chapel a couple of weeks ago: a few hours before we met as members for a crucial vote on our future. John spoke extremely prophetically into our situation, (unknowingly) confirming points 1) and 3) above (elders and body ministry), and urging us to get back to the heart of why our church was founded in the first place: to make waves in the community.
Under the Chapel’s founding minister, Rev Samuel Martin, alms houses and schools were built, orphans were cared for and work schemes were organised for unemployed men. Rev Martin’s gospel-preaching and Biblical authority made Westminster Chapel stand out as a place of hope in what was then one of London’s poorest slums. We believe God is calling us back to be a beacon of community hope, and want to build on our existing Foodbank and CAP Debt Centre to serve London.
With the above changes coming to fruition in the months ahead, please be praying for us! With God’s help, we believe we can play an important part in bringing His Kingdom to the heart of our nation.
If this is something you’re passionate about too, and you’re not yet involved in a church, we’d love to hear from you. Email us at [email protected] and we’ll send you an email with more information about our church, or you can visit us one Sunday and speak to one of our friendly hosts at the door.