Manchester, the North West & Beyond
It’s always a joy to hear back from Directors who are visiting our churches up and down the country. Adrian Reynolds reports back from a recent trip to Greater Manchester.
I had the privilege a few weeks ago to visit and preach at City Church Manchester.
Started in 2014, this young church is situated right in the heart of Manchester (just a stone’s throw from the Arndale Centre), reaching out to the vibrant and diverse population that has made its home in this city of 2.7 million people.
The need is great, because all the statistics point to the fact that Manchester has an even lower percentage of born-again believers than the (already low) UK national average. Perhaps – and this is just a rough guess by those in the know – only 2% of the city’s population believe in Christ as their Lord and Saviour.
The church meets in Methodist Central Hall. I must admit, that coming from London this conjured up all kinds of images in my mind, none of which turned out to be true! It’s a great central location, but architecturally significant it ain’t. But, as we all know, that matters not a jot when we are talking about the local church.
I enjoyed visiting, being made welcome, meeting people and preaching on Revelation 10-11; but what energised me most was hearing about the church’s vision and the intentional steps (that were vocalised to the church) that it was taking to achieve them.
The primary purpose of the church is clear: ‘Inviting everyone to enjoy Christ for the glory of God.’ I like that: it’s missional, Scriptural and gives focus to activities and plans.
But it’s the sub-theme which really grabbed my intention. ‘We are a growing church that trains and generously gives labourers to resource and plant churches in Manchester, the North West and beyond.’
This is a young church and so it’s early doors yet. Even so, there are obvious and tangible ways that this vision is being realised, including working through what revitalising a local church might look like in terms of cost and energy alongside the more traditional thinking on training workers and thinking about plants.
The reality is that our nation’s gospel need is so great we need every gospel church (and therefore every FIEC church) to have this outward focus. We cannot afford to let it slip. Perhaps it seems easier in a young and growing church such as City Church Manchester? Maybe so, but we all need the focus.
Consider a small evangelical church. Perhaps it is left a legacy. What it can use the money for? We immediately think about the church roof or the Manse repairs. But could the money (or some of it) be used to support a church planter in rural Yorkshire?
What about a medium-sized church, embarking on a much-needed building project. Could the church, in faith, put aside 10% or 15% of a large budget and support a team in a deprived or unreached area?
What about a large church. Could your next staff appointment be a pastor somewhere else? Imagine the good that could do!
These kinds of questions will never be on the agenda unless we – as a movement and as individual churches – are intentional about raising up and sending out in the context of the great gospel need.
I loved City Church’s people; its leaders; its music; its kids work. But what I appreciated most was its heart.