Church, Manchester, Faith, Punk

Posts tagged “innovation

Contextualisation sounds like this

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 –


Mind Boggling

I like to rant. I do.

But today I am going to say something nice. About someone.

Brace yourself.

A friend was asking me how the first few CCM:City meetings had gone. This friend leads another church in Manchester, it is not a Newfrontiers church so the jury’s out on whether he is saved or not but I like him none the less (that was a joke). He leads a cracking church which has been on the Manchester scene for many years and have seen many other church plants come and go. They keep plugging away and to be honest they are heavy weights.

It is also worth noting that they run a Sunday meeting that is squarely aimed at students, twenties and the creative community of Manchester which is exactly who we are aiming CCM:City at. In human terms you would think they would be slightly suspicious of us and even be a touch frustrated that we are trying to do the same thing.

So he was asking how CCM:City was going. He then asked if there was anything they could do, I suggested they give us 50 people. He laughed.

Then he offered help again. I explained that we had 4000 leaflets to give out and a couple of volunteers would be awesome (you have to understand that I thought he was being polite and wanted we to ask for prayer). Anyway, my friend said that I could have 25 – 35 people to help with flyers on Sunday night. Genuinely mind bending.

So on Sunday, even if they provide 1 person to help out it will still be amazing.

Generic mid 90s white boy rock

Andy Back and Luke Morris make excellent comments on my last post. They are address the issue of lyrical content and I agree with them both. A corporate worship song packed with good theology and biblical content is the best kind. The “Jesus is my boyfriend” stuff is hard for me to navigate without getting a little annoyed.

A number of modern worship artists/leaders write songs with cracking content. Stuff you can really get your head round and as a middle class lad, who has been to Uni and been around church culture my whole life it is easy for me to identify with these songs. That may not be the case for everyone. I think songs that are more about emotional than intellectual engagement are not to be dismissed by theological snobbery.

My main beef is the music styles used. Which some may view as being less important than lyrical content but I beg to differ. PJ Smyth blogs about the importance of credible Sunday meetings and Ed Stetzer writes (brilliantly) about contextualisation here and here. The music we use when we worship has to be a part of that conversation.

Let me pose you a question. Why do most of the large Christian Youth events, albums and even Youth Churches have generic mid 90s white boy rock (Paul Weller on a slow day) as their Worship Music genre of choice? Again, where is the creativity?

(Please note – I am aware that I am asking questions and have not ever provided the answers! I have not tried to innovate with music at church myself as I have never had that level of influence or anywhere near the level of required ability. My hope and my intention is that CCM:City will at least attempt the things I am ranting about)

Where are the creatives?

So worship is properly rattling round my head at the moment. I wrote recently about Multi-Cultural worship can be a red herring for churches if they don’t carefully think through what they want to achieve. I honestly think that the British church is missing vast opportunities to reach out with the music they use in their main meetings. Music can be a huge missional opportunity if we use it correctly.

Anyways, as I was thinking about this a song came on the radio (6music Woop! Woop!) that made me sit up and listen. It is a beautiful tune that made me want to worship God. They are not (as far as I know) Christian, but they are imaginative, ground breaking and heartfelt. Everything worship music should be and often isn’t.

Now there is every chance that you may watch this and think it is toilet. That is not the point.

What is the point? Well, where are the creatives? Where are the worship leaders who are breaking new ground in music and genre? Are they being sat on by conservative church leaders? Are they put of by criticism? Am I holding people back in our church because of my own musical tastes?

Anyhoo, watch this –

Drummer = Missionary

Running The Chapel has thrown a number of very talented people in our direction. It seems that every week I get to meet someone who does or can do something very cool.

So today I hung out with a drummer. A very good drummer.

We spent a bunch of time talking about music as we both have similar taste. Anyways, he helped me clarify a little bit more what I want The Chapel to be about. I want Christian musicians to be in bands with Non-Christians, because they love music and because the love mission. The Chapel could help support them in what they do by organizing gigs, publicizing there work and hopefully putting them in front of people. Also, and most importantly,  we can support them. We can help them to live Godly lives whilst playing Punk, Death Metal, Jazz, Drum & Bass, R&B, Soul, Hip-Hop or (God forbid) Acid Jazz.

A Christian artist creating culture in a Non Christian scene could and should be very influential and incredibly missional.

So drummer dude, if you read this, go join/start that band. You will be a missionary.

Culture = Community

I have always wanted to be part of a church that creates culture. I often hear people talking about how the church needs to influence culture, but the way to do this often appears to be a little unclear (at least it does to me).

I was chatting to a Chapel attendee the other week and she told me that she worked in Radio. She expressed frustration that the only way church told her to influence culture was by having Non-Christian friends at her work place. She wanted more than this and wanted to know how she could create and produce culture that would be influential. She got my brain whirring.

I want the church (not just the leaders but the whole community) to create and support culture. I want to see Christian artists, musicians, designers, and whoever creating work that is meant to be consumed by the world at large. I also want to see the church producing forums and settings where secular artists can be supported. I don’t want Christian culture I just want culture.

Our first baby step towards this is The Crypt

Why do we want to do this? Because Community thrives on Culture and quality Culture creates Community. At least, I hope so!

Chapel Redux

Something I am very keen to do is to have a church that creates and influences culture. Manchester is a very influential city in terms of culture. Since living here I have noticed a couple of occasions where the national press have tracked local Manchester bands because there is an assumption that if a band does well on the Manchester scene they are likely to do well nationally.

Our Sunday evening meeting (currently called The Chapel) will be called CCM:City from September (our Sunday morning meeting will be CCM:East) but we wanted to keep using The Chapel “branding” because it had developed some recognition and a little bit of a reputation.

So we are going to morph The Chapel into a creative community. It is a little hard to explain what this is because I expect (and hope)  it will evolve beyond recognition quite quickly, but to start with it will consist of different events such as open mic, DJ sets, gigs, and artistic events as well as having an online presence (blogs and tweets etc). My hope is that the creative people among us will start to feel inspired about contributing their own work as well as critiquing and promoting other peoples work. I fully intend to steal a number of excellent ideas from Mosaic Church in Leeds, Oasis Church in Birmingham and Redeemer Central in Belfast, as well as come up with some of our own.

I want a church where creative people can feel like they are valued,  have a great deal of influence over the churches output and can bring their friends too. I want a church that is ahead of the creative curve  and can have cultural credibility within Manchester.

The Chapel Changes

So recently I have been tempting you with nuggets of news. I have suggested that The Chapel is going to undergo some changes, a bit of nip and tuck.

Well from September we are going to start meeting on a Sunday evening at Luther King House while the mornings will stay at Hyde Town Hall. The evening meeting will be called CCM:City and our morning meeting will be CCM:East. The Chapel is going to morph into something else entirely.

I will unpack what these changes mean over the next few blog posts but to start with its worth covering a little bit of background that give some context to the change.

We started The Chapel in September 2009. Since we started we have seen 60 ish first time guests come along who would never otherwise heard of or have come to a Christ Church Manchester meeting. Up until March 2010 we averaged about 14-17 people on a Sunday night. Since the beginning of March we have been getting 20-25. So we are definitely getting somewhere.

We decided that the by moving to a slightly more conventional venue (the room we are using is actually an old chapel) and becoming a fully fledged site/location/campus of CCM we will be able to appeal to more people and will gain the freedom to turn The Chapel into something more outreach focussed.

I will write more over the week. Honestly, I am dead excited about how this going to work out. It feels like we are trying to be genuinely innovative in a City famed for innovation.

Soon people, soon

It seems that we are on the verge of a Chapel re-jigg. This is exciting and petrifying in equal measure. I am not going to tell you what they are yet because we are still fiddling with the detail but soon I will. Probably.

I can say that we have some high quality people who are joining us and a few people giving us funny looks. Either way we are desperate to have a church that is uniquely Manchester. The ride remains incredible.

Anyhoo, this (believe it or not) is keeping me calm –

Slowly Slowly Catchey Monkey

I love Sundays. I love seeing who is going to pitch up, meeting new people and explaining who we are and where we are going. Mostly, I love it when the presence of God is there. Nothing feels more relevant than the church meeting God.

Anyways, this Sunday see the Chapel return (have I mentioned this already?). We are inching our way forward, which is awesome because there was a point, not long ago, when I thought we were nearly done. It feels different now. It doesnt matter if nobody shows on Sunday evening, I know that God is with us. Regardless of any success or failure we experience God is with us.

(6:30PM start. Cakes + Worship + Crazy idea for the future = The Chapel)