Church, Manchester, Faith, Punk

Archive for October, 2009

The great CD alphabetization

Job done. Discovered a few dodgy worship CDs, a couple of dodgier U2 CDs and a few gaps in my collection but I had a great time.

I did have a crisis of confidence beforehand and wondered whether I should reorganise the albums by year of release but then remembered that I did this before and it requires instant recall of an albums original release date. This became annoying as soon as I had finished.

I also wondered whether I could organise it autobiographically like John Cusack in high fidelity. I tried explaining this to Vix and was met with glazed eyes.

So, boring won and I went alphabetical.

Anyways this great reorganisation meant that I rediscovered this small piece of fried gold.

Just thought you should know….



Yesterday my good friend Al blogged on change. It struck a chord with me as our lives have been constant change since May this year.

  • We have had a second child
  • Sold a house (eventually)
  • Moved city
  • I have started a new job and Vix is looking for a new job
  • We have joined a new church (I work for these guys)
  • We have started an evening meeting for this church
  • We have merged two churches together (Something the Simple Pastor is also doing)
  • We are starting a new charity for the people of Gorton

With all that’s going on we never really pause to catch our breath. Thank goodness.

The change is constant and invigorating. Sometimes I am tempted to suggest to our leaders that we may need to hold off on the constant innovation so that we can build what we already have but then I remember that change comes when God blesses you. To be stuck in the same place with nothing new happening means that you are not laying hold of the kingdom. We desperately want this thing to move forward, for people to get saved, for the church to be massive and important.

It is not about constant upheaval for the sake of it, but rather it’s taking the gospel forward and changing to fit with Gods plans. Marvellous.

Alphabetizing my CD collection

Tonight I have an unexpected night off (my small group in Oldham have collectively abandoned me). So tonight I shall Alphabetize my CD collection.

This is going to be a good evening! Beer and huge piles of CDs. Beautiful.

However, there are some rules to be obeyed. The first few rules are simple:

  1. Alphabetize by band names but do not include “The” in that process. E.g. The Clash comes under C. Obviously.
  2. Solo artists get ordered by surname. – Although I am considering a whole different section for solo artists….

Now it gets more complicated:

  1. No worship music. None at all. It just doesn’t count. It is barely music. This separate genre goes in a box under the stairs so it doesn’t cause me to stumble.
  2. The wife’s music has to undergo strict quality control (a process she has no input in). What’s bad goes in the “worship box”, whatever’s good may get promoted into the main body of music. This usually only happens with CDs brought by me for her.
  3. No “Christian Secular” music. These are artists who make music which is not worship music but is very Christian. This is possibly more offensive than the worship music. Ok, maybe it’s not that bad but they have to be incredible to make it into the Simmonds Music Catalogue.

Excuse for a party

The Chapel ticks along nicely, but let’s be honest I want this thing to be massive and currently we are not massive. We have had guests and people have joined us but we only get to affect a whole city if there are stacks of us on board.

So, I have a plan that is beyond cunning.

When we get 20 (or more) people for two weeks running I will buy everybody involved Pizza.

When we get 40 people for two weeks running I will buy everybody involved curry.

When we get 50 people for two weeks running we will have a massive chapel party with a DJ and those funny stick things with pineapple and cheese on.

So, you want pizza, curry and a party? Then bring your mates. If you live outside of Manchester or have joined this group to support us then you can pray/phone anyone you know in the rainy city and order them along.

Why Blog?

The simple pastor makes a good point. Big fan.

I also buy books from him.

Excited by Church

Dave Matthias blogged about why he is excited by his church and it made me think about why I am excited by my church.

At Christ Church Manchester we believe God has told us to reach the eastern side of Manchester (This is a massive area that includes just about anywhere from the centre of Manchester out to the peaks and moors). We are hoping to have mission focused communities in at least eight different locations. Currently we are in four locations with a few others on the horizon. We meet in Hyde, Gorton, Oldham and Fallowfield. We will soon be starting up new Mission Communities in Tameside, and Failsworth.

The eastside of Manchester is a tough place to gig. As I have written about already churches don’t really grow in areas like this. It is deprived and not a particularly trendy place so churches don’t often plant round here as not many people want to move in and help out.

I am excited that our church works closely with Oasis which is a drop-in centre in the centre of Gorton. These guys do incredible work helping people from very complex backgrounds find stability. They have seen a few people saved recently and are working hard to build community in an area of very little hope.

Its busy, creative, messy, and utterly compelling. Love it.

Manchester loves music

Last night I went to the academy 2 to watch Frank Turner. He is a singer song writer from the English folk and punk tradition. I thought he was fantastic. He seems to ooze genuine joy at playing his songs to a crowd of people who knew every word. I have been too many gigs where the artist seemed unmoved by the audiences love for the music, which always makes we think that the artist has long since given up caring about the music or the people listening.

This gig sold out much quicker than any other gig on the tour. Why? Because Manchester loves music.

The crowd were well into the show, shouting at Frank and even cheering the support. In Birmingham this show would have been in a much smaller venue and in London the crowds take advantage of all the gigs they get.

Definitely a fantastic night. And if by some freakish chance Frank reads this blog then I have a message for him – Frank, you could be an incredible worship leader at the chapel! Your passion, joy and anger mean that people listen and follow. Anyways, become a Christian (it’s not as bad as some people make it look) and then give me a shout.

Let’s build a bridge

Church building programs and related fund raising drives always make me nervous. Honestly I am not sure if this is the rabid legalist within me or the ridiculous idealist but the idea of a church asking for money from its members/local authority/trusts/general public makes me twitchy. Whether it is one of those repair the roof campaigns or simply a desire to have a building because the PA is pain to unpack every single week, whatever. I get weird.

Anyways Church Marketing Sucks (brilliant blog) highlighted this example of a church in Atlanta that is trying to raise $5 million to build a bridge to solve some car parking issues. That’s right people, car parking.

Watch the video on their “let’s build a bridge website

I get grumpy that I have to carry 20 chairs up two flights of stairs in a Bar every Sunday evening. Good grief.

How do students survive fresher’s week?

Last night I rode up Oxford Road in Manchester, past Owens Park Halls, numerous pubs and kebab houses to meet a friend at Hardys on the edge of the curry mile. It was striking just how many students there were. It was nearly striking in a literal sense as various students ran out in front of my bike!

Anyways, I found this article on the guardian website by Tanya Gold.

In my days of doing student work at church I have always been amazed by the bravado of fresher’s and how this is so distant from the reality of how they are coping with being at Uni. I remember many occasions students confiding how desperately homesick they are, or how scared they are by not being able to cook or by the vast social scene they are expected to understand and navigate straight away.

The church should be a place of reality and honesty for everybody, including students. Often I fear that the bravado transfers into the church community as well.

Manchester Bloggers

During my time in Manchester I have discovered a wealth of bloggers in the rainy city that have provided some fantastic reading.

The broad range of subjects covered a good reflection of this wonderfully eccentric city.

Here is a list of a few of my favourites. I will add more as I discover them.

The Manchizzle – The Mumma of Manchester bloggers. Reviews and promotes Manchester culture with enthusiasm.

Forever Manchester – These guys/gals cover the history and culture of Manchester. My only gripe is that they don’t blog very often.

The Mancubist – More Manchester culture

Manchester Zedders – The remit of this blog is simple. Wander round areas of Manchester using an AtoZ (thus Zedders), take photos and blog about it. It is an oddly compelling read.

Lost in Manchester – This is another history and photography blog. They take a close look at some of the sights of Manchester and delve into the history.

Manchester seems to understand itself. There is a sense on the Manchester blogosphere that the residents of Manchester know what the city is all about and have high hopes for the future. I want to be part of that.