Church, Manchester, Faith, Punk

CCM:Levenshulme

Failure

I have always wanted this blog to be an honest account of what it’s like to plant a church/site in 21st century Manchester. So it is about time that I filled you in on some failure.

In the summer of 2011 I started banging on about starting a new site of Christ Church Manchester in Levenshulme. I had a plan. It was a fairly simple plan and I was convinced it would work. Basically, we were going to book a room somewhere in Levenshulme in the middle of the week, make a whole bunch of noise using social media, pray, worship and hope that people started showing up. Simple.

We found a room. Boom. Site planted.

Then a couple of things happened –

1) We lost the room
2) September, October and November at CCM:City distracted me.

So CCM:Levenshulme didn’t exactly happen because it didn’t exactly happen! We took the idea for a spin and we came up against a few obstacles, including my own time limitations, and we couldn’t get the engine started.

At CCM we describe ourselves as church planting entrepreneurs. This sounds a little grand but all it really really means is that we have faith that God will use us to start something from nothing. So at the very beginning of a plant we only need a tiny bit of leverage (a room, a couple of people) to give us the faith to keep pushing. With CCM:City a very cheap room, and a couple of visitors in the first few months gave us faith. Levenshulme needed to give us a tiny bit of faith quite quickly, and that didn’t happen.

Is that the end of the story? Nope. In fact I think I have a better idea of how we can make it work next time round.

Am I upset? Not really. In fact I am pleased that we took the idea out for a spin and I genuinely believe that something will happen for us at some point in Levenshulme.

To sumarise – CCM:Levenshulme hasn’t happened…yet.


When Vision is Pointless

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?

Pray that
• 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.


A hyperlocal city church?

In my last post I discussed the emergence of hyperlocal blogs and the affect they have had on mainstream media.

At CCM we have begun to talk about how we live as a multi site church. We have considered what our philosophy of church is, we have debated many different models and slowly we have realized that we just need to embrace who we are.

We are an entrepreneurial church. We love the new and we love to dream of the future. We are also a hard working church with many fully committed volunteers who give time, energy and money way way beyond the call of duty.

We have realized that we cannot rest on our laurels and that we must keep battling to see Jesus kingdom move forward.

We feel convicted to start many sites of Christ Church Manchester across Manchester and we want to see churches planted across the North West of England.

The sites of CCM will be focused on a locality (that can be a geographic area, a people group, a cultural group or combination of all) but will play a part in the whole city. The city church will be colored by the local and vice versa.

CCM:Levenshulme has a facebook page, a venue and a time to meet! All I need now are some people…


City Wide and Hyperlocal

At CCM we have begun to talk about how we live as a multi site church. We have considered what our philosophy of church is, we have debated many different models and slowly we have realized that we just need to embrace who we are.

So we have started talking about being a church that is city wide and hyperlocal.

Describing something as hyper local seems a little counterintuitive. It would be like describing an Ant as having elephant like properties. It is an oxymoron but it is a very useful oxymoron! Let me explain what I mean. Hopefully I won’t sound like a moron trying to explain an oxymoron.

The term hyperlocal has been stolen from the world of bloggers. In recent years modern media has experienced a seismic shift from the massive to miniscule. Blogs are remarkably easy to set up and run, so a huge number of blogs have sprung up run by individuals that focus on a locality. That locality can be a geographic area, a people group, a cultural group or combination of everything; these hyperlocal blogs are heavily influencing mainstream media.

However, it is more than that. This change has seen the democratization of news and media. People are writing about what they want to read about and other people are following, sometimes in there millions. The local is affecting the international thus “Hyperlocal”.

Hyperlocal is driven by passion, it is high maintenance but costs nothing.

How does this relate to church, in particular multi site church? More tomorrow.


Two Years In

So the Simmonds family have been in Manchester for two years.

This two years has gone at lightning pace. When we turned up in Manchester we had a 1 month old baby and a toddler, now we have a child about to start full time school and a toddler who likes picking fights with people twice her size (she usually wins).

Our time so far has been a ride that we never imagined but secretly hoped for. We started a church meeting in a vodka bar with about 8 people that morphed into a fully fledged site of Christ Church Manchester. We have made a bunch of new friends and seen people added to the church. All of these experiences are deeply humbling and happen with our involvement and despite our involvement because God is bigger, cleverer and more graceful than I am.

In recent times Christ Church Manchester has been growing and taking shape across the board. So CCM:East has moved into a school in Gorton and has started seeing visitors come along as well as a number of our Gorton initiatives get moving and see some fruit. The venue move was a strategic decision that has tied the two sites together and will hopefully strengthen us to go into the next stage of CCM.

CCM:City has seen a good flow of visitors and the mission groups have gone from zero to four in less than a year. It really seems like the CCM Community has deepened and our mission has become clearer.

Over recent months we have realised that we want to be a church that is city wide and hyper local. So we want to keep planting sites of CCM across Manchester. We want to entrepreneur sites in a broad range of communities and locations so we can see the gospel taken into our city.

This is all a very long way round of telling you that we are going to start a new site based in Levenshulme.

I remember when we started the Chapel back in September 2009 I always felt slightly ridiculous describing it as a church or a church meeting because we averaged about 12 people on a Sunday night and the home group I led on a wednesday night could get 20 people, and so I nervously describe this as a “site” because currently it only exists in mine and Vicki’s imagination! Having said that, I believe that for CCM this is the right way to do things. We are going to network, innovate and cook our way to a brand new CCM site in Levenshulme. Then we shall start another one.

In the coming days, weeks and months I am going to write about our hopes, dreams and plans for the next CCM site.