Church, Manchester, Faith, Punk

christ church manchester

What could possibly go wrong?

This is one of those weeks that I used to pray would happen. I used to daydream about days like these. However, now I am actually here I am not so sure!

CCM:City started meeting in its current form just under two years ago. We had barely any people but we had an idea of what we thought God wanted to do. So we held our breath, closed our eyes tight, pinched our noses and dived in to the massive swirling pool that is church planting (that’s a touch dramatic but you get my point).

Two years later and we aren’t dead. Result.

In fact we have grown. People have joined, become our friends and new plans have been hatched.

So this week is a big week in the life of Christ Church Manchester. This week we start a brand new Sunday service. This means from this Sunday we will be running three services across two different locations in Manchester. This Sunday (2nd September 2012) we shall start a morning meeting at 10:30am as well as carrying on with our 6:30pm meeting. We will also carry on meeting at Wright Robinson School in Gorton at 10:30am every Sunday.  Exciting times / petrifying.

I was recently sat in a meeting about church planting and I was having a very civil conversation with an experienced church planter. I was telling him about our plans for doubling our sunday services at CCM:City, he asked how many people we currently had. I quietly mumbled something about “60 people on a good day” (we don’t get that many good days), he looked at me, blinked a few times and then changed the subject. Oh boy.

So, once again, if praying is your thing then please pray for us.

Pray for –

  • We want more people that bring people!
  • We want to plant a few more sites this year (Withington and Alderley Edge are in our sights)
  • God needs to move. Things are much simpler when he moves.

Cheers for reading.

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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.


How to succeed at university #2 Start as you mean to go on

Let me tell you about my buddy Greg. Greg graduated a few years ago and we are good friends. He loves God, is intelligent and is the sort of Guy everybody likes. He also has a passion for hockey and decided that he want to play for the hockey team at Birmingham Uni.

Sports Teams at Uni are a tough place for a Christian to go. The social side of University sports teams seem to revolve around binge drinking, casual sex and drug abuse. The initiation events of University hockey teams have become the stuff of legend.

I knew Greg was in the hockey team and I knew he was a solid Christian so I asked him how he squared the circle. He told me that the only way to deal with this is to be Holy from the start.

He had decided that he was just going to stand his ground avoid from the very beginning. He explained that it didn’t take long for his teammates to realise that he just didn’t do all that stuff and after a while the peer group pressure eased up on him and eventually he had earned a great deal of respect.

This stuck with me. Defining yourself from the beginning of your time at University is so important.

I know a whole bunch of students who only remembered they were Christians about half way through their second year (usually after a bad hangover and a nasty experience). They had to reel back in a whole lifestyle that had gotten out of control. This was hard to do in view of their non-Christian friends.

Freshers’ week is a temptation to go crazy and it’s probably a first time away from home so there is a great deal of freedom to play with.

Should you party hard? Yes.

Should you have lots of Non-Christian friends? Please please please please

Should you love Jesus? Yes

Can you square the circle?


How to succeed at University – #1 Know God and Party Hard

I wrote a few days ago about how Christians should not be scared of going to University. In that blog I promised I would explain how I thought Christians can beat the fear and make a success of University life.

So, first of all – Know God.

It seems so obvious but is so often forgotten.

All the guys and girls that I know who pursue a relationship with their father find themselves in a much better position to deal with the challenges that University throws at them.

Relationship with God doesn’t make you richer, or improve your grades but it does set your life on a foundation of Rock.

The importance of setting aside time in your diary and space in your head for God is impossible to overestimate. So many things at Uni look urgent and even more things look too exciting to miss and so we can find ourselves forgetting God.

Without wanting to get crazy and start setting rules let me make a few suggestions.

• Set aside time everyday to pray and read the bible
• Meet with a few church buddies to pray and get accountable
• Party hard

We Christians forget the value of a good party. At University it is easy to get caught in a vast Christian bubble. So we need to remember that constant contact with Non-Christians is a great way to build your relationship with God because they will challenge your thinking, point out your hypocrisy and laugh at your weirdness (and you ARE weird).

This post originally appeared on the Christ Church Manchester website.


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.


The Right People

Yesterday I told you about Chloe. Chloe is awesome for putting together a mission group out of nothing. Kudos to her.

Today I shall tell you about Tim. I found Tim on twitter 18 months ago. He came along to our meetings when we were The Chapel in Baa Bar. 14 of us in a room doing our very best to be 15 people in a room. Tim in a strange way gave us hope.

I guess he was an indicator as to where we could be if a few of the right people joined us. Tim is one of the right people and he joined us.

He decided to stay in his halls (the glorious Owens Park Hall) for an extra year because he wanted to be a missionary. He led a small group that the CU gave him. He was given a list of mobile numbers and that was it. Out of that list 7 (I think) joined CCM:City. One day he sat in the dinning hall reading his bible, that got him someone else to bring to church. She in turn brought two of her mates.

Tim does all our design, anchors the meetings, and generally helps us to be much better than we are.

Tim makes me look awesome!

(He does sometimes wear braces, which is a shame)

Next I will tell you about Emma.


A rant free dull blog

I haven’t written much for a while about Christ Church Manchester. I have lost a bit of confidence in writing about it because I am not sure how I am supposed to write about what’s going on with out sounding like an ego driven pillock. My writing has also been concentrated in the humiliation that is my dadtalk blog and in trying to prove how cool I still am on the Sounds Good To Me Too.

Also, I have been trying to work out how you define success and failure when talking about church. My tendency is to get caught up in the numbers of people at key meetings which is a long road to frustration and loss of perspective. However, if you are starting something new then you need to be in reality about whether anybody turns up or not.

So the reality of CCM:City is that people are turning up and they are bringing their friends. The bigger picture is that community is being built and that the people we are getting are quality (with some genuine musical talent thrown in for good measure – MikeJonny). The even bigger picture is that Christ Church Manchester as a whole is picking up pace. A new venue for CCM:East is drawing close, our training academy is taking shape and plans are afoot for a music and arts academy.

Often I find myself being a very excited spectator who tries to claim credit for what is nothing to do with me!

Anyhoo, there wasn’t much ranting in that blog. I will try and rectify that soon.