We once went on holiday to Wales with our friend, Jan. She loves the outdoors and is one of these people who leaps up mountains like a gazelle. She suggested that we walk to the top of the hill in Snowdonia National Park called Tryfan. She said it would be a nice walk. As we set out from the car it was really nice, walking alongside a bubbling brook with soft grassy banks.

Then the path started to get a bit steeper. Then we were faced with a rock face, which meant a near vertical climb as we clambered upwards, trying not to think of the certain death that would ensue should anyone fall! I asked Jan if she knew the climb would get this hard. She replied, “Oh yes. But I thought that if I told you, you might not have come!” She wasn’t wrong.

I am quite certain that God has called Grace Church at this time to launch a fourth site in the Havant community. We are going to start meeting in Warblington School in March of this year. I can't wait. It is only as we have begun to make detailed plans that I have realised some of the challenges presented by being a church with four sites. There are one or two rock faces that weren’t visible from the car park!

"We expect God
to lead us through
the prophectic
preaching of
His Word"
This is particularly the case for how we organise the Sunday morning preaching. When I ask people what attracted them to Grace Church, their answer often includes that “Grace Church preaches the Bible!” I’m sure other churches do too, but it is indeed true that this is a core value of Grace Church. We put effort into maintaining the quality and depth of preaching. More than that, we expect God to lead us and shape us through the prophetic preaching of His Word. As Lead Elder, I consider that setting the preaching agenda and anchoring the preaching programme is one of the most important things that I do.

Our current approach to preaching in three sites is that we have three different people preaching each Sunday, and these people rotate around the sites so that all sites get the same teaching in the end, although some sites are delayed relative to the others. In some ways this arrangement has served us well, but there are also some significant downsides. Unfortunately, it is these that would be amplified when we add a fourth site.

If I were to rotate around the sites as I currently do, I would be preaching in each site once per month. I think this begins to undermine our core value of leading the church through preaching. Not only that but the other guys who are able to preach on a regular basis are prevented from bringing consistent leadership into any one site. For example, take Joe Leach. He is going to be leading the team that launches out into Havant. There is no way he could do this effectively whilst also being on the current preaching rotation.

The solution that we are going to try is to introduce an element of video-based preaching into each of our sites. This is how it will work: Someone (usually myself) will record the sermon for that Sunday a few days earlier. This will be shown on the Sunday in most of the sites. I will rotate around our four sites as I do currently, and will preach ‘live’ in person wherever I am. Also, approximately once per month, we will have someone from each site prepare and deliver a message on the same subject, so this will also be preached ‘live’ in each site. The result is that around half of the Sundays in each site will include a video-based sermon.

"I am believing that
people will be saved
and lives will be
transformed..."
We are putting effort into making the quality of the video sermons as high as possible, and I’m sure we will learn more as we go. The meeting leaders and worship leaders in the room will be well prepared. Most importantly, the Holy Spirit will be active through the preaching of His Word and will continue to be active as we respond to the preach with times of worship, ministry and prayer.

In fact, whilst I would never claim that video-based preaching is preferable to preaching delivered in the room, my confidence is in God who knew the rock faces we would face as he led us down this path. If you are part of Grace Church, you may be less than pleased to hear this news. I share some of those feelings! As I have done, look for that place of faith: I am believing that people will be saved and lives will be transformed through the preaching of the Word, like we have never seen before.

We made it to the top of Tryfan. It was exhilarating. The views were amazing. We had survived! Even though we might not have set out had we known what the journey was like, we were hugely glad that we did.