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.
Its that time of year again when 18 year olds across the country wait impatiently for their A-level results.
It feels like this moment could define the rest of your life. You feel like some bad results will come as a crushing blow to your future that you will never recover from. The possibilities of University life look tantalizing and petrifying all at the same time.
Let me tell you what happened to me on A-level day in 1995 (I don’t look it but I am THAT old).
I failed badly. I got a “D” a “U” and a “N”. You ever hear of anyone else who got “N”? Me neither. Crushing failure.
I discovered that you cannot start a punk band in your last year of A-levels, develop a debilitating passion for beer, perfect the art of non-attendance AND never ever hand in any work and still expect to go to University.
I remember opening the letter and looking at the “grades” I’d got and realizing I had been a little bit stupid/immature/lazy. That feeling is burned into my memory.
I took two years out. Year 1 was volunteering for a church as youth worker and year 2 was as a volunteer in a homeless hostel.
My time volunteering in the homeless hostel helped me realize how ridiculously privileged I was and how easy my life had been up until that point. I applied to University as a mature student and got in by the skin of my teeth. Three years later I got a 2:1 in a degree that I worked hard for.
The moral of the story? Well, firstly don’t start a punk band two months before your exams start, but perhaps more importantly don’t worry about failure. Failure just means you need to learn a few lessons before you try again.
Why do we want to do this? I am praying for a few different outcomes from this club night and future events.
- I want community to be built – So people show up, bring their mates and have some fun.
- I want mission – So people bring their mates. Their mates can ask them “Why is a church running a club night?”. In the future I want to serve Manchester’s creative scene by having Non-Christian DJs and performers.
- I want to create culture – This is a longer term dream but I want the church to support and create culture in Manchester.
- Innovation in worship – The Crypt is not a worship events (its a party) but I want to start planting the idea in peoples heads that the churches corporate worship can be a place of musical innovation and can use genres that aren’t usually found in a Sunday meeting.
Lets be clear, this could all fall on its face. I have no experience in running club nights, promotion or really much experience in church planting and church leadership! So I have no clue as to how this is all going to work. What I do know is that I want people who wouldn’t be see dead in church (even in a crypt?) to find Jesus.
Once again, I am wide eyed and clueless.
Kevin Deyoung blogged about “the Fetid Pool of self promotion”.
Being willing to ask hard questions is a must. Do I want money and recognition? Do I feel the need for validation? Do I like it when I look successful? Or do I want people to learn more about Christ and honor him with their lives? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. I pray that my heart is mostly concerned with the last yes, but sometimes it’s hard to tell.
Good stuff. I am painfully aware of how often I stray into self promotion. I regularly ask myself why I blog? Is this a genuine attempt at transparency and a means by which I can test run ideas? Or am I shameless self publicist? I suspect its all of those things. I just hope its more about Jesus than me.
Blue, with a hint of amber wrote about the dangers of self promotion and a lack of honesty.
On friday I wrote about honesty, particularly in terms of leaders being honest about their success.
Since then it has been rattling round in my head (plenty of room to do so). I follow a bunch of people on twitter and have noticed a trend whereby leaders promote themselves so as too promote their church. It is a slightly odd phenomenon which seems completely understandable but slightly twisted at the same time.
Steve Tibberts blog about the new centre of influence in christianity being large churches and conferences, where formerly denominations and the bible colleges had the most influence. This led me to wonder if in the modern era christian “personalities and celebrities” are actually having the most influence.
Not sure where I am going with this. Do we use the internet to promote our church and end up promoting our own brand? Does this mean we spin everything we do to improve how we look?
So in the interest of honesty, on Sunday at the chapel there was 14 of us. I had a great time but I still want the numbers to double.
Monster blogger Seth Godin got the brain juices moving this morning with this post – No, everything is not going to be ok.
He is right. When we change stuff, or start something new we are faced with the real possibility that we will fail. Every church plant has a high chance of failure. Should that stop us pioneering? Definitely not, but we would probably help ourselves if we were a touch more honest.
Finding the bravery to shun faux reassurance is a critical step in producing important change. Once you free yourself from the need for perfect acceptance, it’s a lot easier to launch work that matters.
Lets talk about the problems, the pitfalls and the failures. Lets celebrate our success at working through them.