We have been in Manchester for 3 years and 4 months. By we I mean the Simmonds family. The Manchester branch of the Simmonds family includes me (Husband, Dad, Churchy Workery type), Vicki (wife, Mother, Nurse), Abi (Daughter, Pupil, Artist) and Esther (Daughter, Pupil, Ninja).
We moved because of me. I felt called to Manchester and church planting. Vicki and the kids gracefully allowed me to chase after my dreams. The move meant Vicki gave up a good job, we left all our friends and all our community connections. Vicki was onboard and excited but she sacrificed more than I did.
I remembered this recently when we started our new morning meeting. CCM:City meets now on Sundays at 10:30am and 6:30pm. Until we started this meeting we were all going to CCM:Gorton. We have a bunch of friends there and my kids get to join in with some brilliant kids work. Abi and Esi had a bunch of good buddys that they loved seeing every week.
Now, the kids work at CCM:City is just my kids. So now me and girls have started talking about church planting! We pray that families join, and that children become christians. Honestly, this is a new one on me. I feel a certain amount of pressure because I want my kids to be an important part of church life (as all kids should be) and at the moment we are the only parents with young kids! There are benefits to this, as my kids always have enthusiastic adults to play with every Sunday and we have total domination of the babysitting network. However, when I was a kid I went to churches with amazing kids work and talented kids workers.
The kids are 5 and 3 so everything is an adventure for them. They don’t complain, they enjoy church and they love their older friends. I am just praying that the adventure will include a few more buddies their own age.
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.
Three years we have lived in Manchester.
Manchester continues to treat us very well. I feel like I have only scratched the surface of what this magnificent city contains. The people are generous, innovative and mad as fish.
Year three has seen the church grow with people and new sites take shape in Salford and Withington. I have also found myself travelling to Alderley Edge every week to pray with a handful of people about another site of Christ Church Manchester being established in North Cheshire. The futures bright, the futures wildly unpredictable.
In September CCM:City will be launching a morning meeting. This means CCM will have a 10:30am sunday meeting in Gorton and Fallowfield as well as a 6:30pm meeting in Fallowfield. This feels like a bold step considering our numbers. We will be a church of 60-80 in CCM:Gorton (+20 kids) and 50-60 at CCM:City (if every regular turned up at the same time) with three Sunday meetings. Breath deeply.
Starting another Sunday morning has been on our minds for a while. It is a logical step for CCM:City to broaden the range of people who could join us, we will even have kids ministry in the mornings. KIDS MINISTRY!
I have always tried to be honest on this blog about the journey we are on. So in the interest of honesty I should be clear that I have no idea how this is going to work. Everyone at CCM:City has brought into the idea (which is humbling) but every time you push into something new there is risk involved. Massive risk. That’s why it’s fun.
At this time of year I always wonder what I will be writing next year. I hope that I will be able to tell you about more Mission Communities, more Sunday meetings and who knows what else.
Someone leading without anyone following is just someone taking a walk.
This is almost true. Jesus is our model for leadership and at times he was completely isolated.
Church planters start by effectively leading nobody. We can sometimes find ourselves in this position for a while. There comes a point when people start signing up to the new church and it feels like you are getting somewhere. It feels like they have bought into the vision and are ready to be led into the great unknown.
The reality is a little different.
Sometimes I encounter this expectation that leadership is a deeply idealistic position where people follow your vision, your ideas, your preaching, your theology or your gifting. To start with I don’t think this is true. When a church is small enough for everyone to know the leader (1 – 100ish) then relationship is what matters. First of all people need to like the leader, only then will they follow.
Lately I have discovered myself living a strange existence. I have been spending a lot of time convincing people that I am likeable (tough sell), whilst be myself and only needing the approval of Jesus not men.
Most people joining the church don’t care that much about our theology, our worship, our small group structure or our vision. They just want to feel like they can belong. Only once they have found there place in the community do they worry about the other things.
Here is the CCM:City take on Jesus Saves –
I think this is my favorite one so far. It has a fair bit of cross over and so is probably not pure dance music but it really thumps!
We want Manchester to hear us and be surprised!
All three songs that Mike has re-imagined are here –
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”.
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.
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?
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.
Summer is weird. Summer while working for a church is especially strange. My instinct is to shut most things down and go to a skeleton operation because everyone must be on holiday.
This summer CCM:City has measurably grown. I think I expected that once all the students cleared off back to their home towns we would be scratching around for enough people to make a half decent prayer trio.
Last summer we shut our Sunday evening meetings from May till September because it’s what everyone else does. That and because everybody left…..
This summer we have a bunch of people who are properly committed to us as a church. We also felt that if we shut down for the summer then we would just be a student church and that is not us at all. We keep getting visitors, some of them come back and the community vibe is so much fun. There is such a strong sense of identity that sometimes I feel like I am part of a strange street gang.
Anyways, September/October looks intriguing. What a ride.
Ps – If you think prayer works then pray that CCM:Levenshulme gets a venue. You can also thank God that CCM:Salford is close to starting! Boom.