CCM:City was two years old on Sunday. We are behaving like most two year olds do, we aspire to be like the big kids but we have a tendency to run into walls and burst into tears for no reason. I have resolved to enjoy the journey and I am!
Two years ago I wrote about my own anxiety and the tiny hope that we had for the future.
I have learn’t more in two years than I can possibly fit into one blog post, lets just say that we have tried to learn from every mistake and not got too excited about any success.
One thing I have slowly grasped is that you have to view any church plant or site plant as a long term project. I want to build something that outlives me. Being caught up in the present battles and goals is important but they must be formed by what you hope for in the future. We want a church packed full of missionaries who love Jesus and love Manchester. Simple really.
That first night two years ago was made up of a small core (maybe 6) and 14 well wishers, some of whom never returned. We were a Sunday night mission group with a big idea and no real clue as to how we would get there (worship led by a punk band? great idea Tim. Great idea). Two years later there is a core of 40 ish with a fringe of 20ish* and we are learning to walk.
To celebrate our second birthday we had our first stab at dance music in worship. It pretty much worked. More on this soon.
*those numbers adjust depending on my mood, today I feel optimistic so you may want to adjust for “church planters inflation”.
You have to be true to what you believe is possible and you have to be realistic about what is likely. The clash between faith and reality can sometimes be quite painful.
There have been a few times in the last couple of years where I felt a distinct sense of belief. People have kindly prayed and brought prophetic words and I feel like a million pounds. Indestructible. Like my destiny is written in the stars. Like I could be the NEXT PIPER/DRISCOLL/VIRGO/KING DAVID!!!! Then the next sunday comes round and 10 people turn up because they felt sorry for me and then I realise that reality has punched my faith in the face and run off with his wallet.
I cannot count the amount of Monday mornings where I have just felt foolish. The sinking feeling that not only am I barking up the wrong tree but that the tree is dying and will soon fall over and kill me is burned into my brain.
I remember meeting with one guy who visited CCM:City back when it was The Chapel a few times. I explained all that I wanted to do and how he could get involved. I was articulate, engaging, funny and visionary.
I never saw him again. He ignore my texts and avoided me on facebook.
I realised that at the beginning of the church planting process vision and faith is really only for the entrepreneur because nobody else is that interested. You have to cling tight to what you believe God has called you to do because there is nothing else to hold onto.
It all sounds a little bit dramatic and over the top but you have to hold the big vision within yourself and try to win one battle at a time. I remember at the very beginning of this venture feeling like it might be easy because I was so sure of what God had told me. How naive was I?
The truth is I am more sure of what God has told me now than I was then. The only difference is that it drives me to win one person at a time and not to expect an easy ride.
This time of year does funny things to my mind.
I am sitting and waiting. This means my brain goes into overdrive. My sleeping patterns get messed up, my routine gets funny and I spend a lot of time staring into the middle distance.
Early September is the calm before the storm. In the next few weeks and months we at Christ Church Manchester will grow. I believe it. Will I regret this bold statement? I don’t think so.
We will grow in number. People will add purpose, community and complexity to us. I cannot wait to have these guys and girls with us.
This time two years ago all the vision I had was to get to Christmas in one piece. The reality of planting a church is so very different from all the books that tell you that you need a clear vision of what your church is going to look like.
I had a vision, and I still have vision, but when you can count your core group on one finger then vision seems a little pointless! There are only so many times that person want to hear “the vision”. I quickly realized that my vision was to get one more person, and after that another person.
Two years in and the world is different. People don’t look at me with pity when I explain what we are about and what we want to do. Some people even talk about joining us.
So we are faced with an exciting future.
If you are the sort of person that thinks praying is a good thing then could you throw a quick prayer up for us?
• CCM:City actually does what we think it might do!
• CCM:East also takes a leap forward
• CCM:Salford will soon spring into life so pray for Tom and Emma
• CCM:Levenshulme gets beyond the “Crazy idea stage”. We need a breakthrough here.
Thanks for reading.