Forward Thinking

Sermon from CCM Ladybarn


This sermon was preached by Tom O’Toole at the Ladybarn site of Christ Church Manchester on Sunday 16th February 2020.


This message was part of the ‘SERIES NAME’ series, preached at Christ Church Manchester’s church in Withington in EARLY/MID/LATE YEAR. The full series included the following sermons:


This sermon was based on Matthew 13:31-33.

The Mustard Seed and the Leaven

31He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. 32It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

33He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”


God Starts With the Small

  • God starts with small things, a single mustard seed. It seems counter intuitive but it is what we see throughout the Bible and church history.
  • “Don’t despise small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” (Zech. 4:10 – NLT)
  • Don’t count yourself out – because of past sin or failure, present disappointment or burden.  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power in made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
  • As a church we will start small because there is a faith for what God will do. The goal is not small the goal is lean and scalable, the goal is to look forward to the growth that will come..  

God Grows it Big

  • The mustard seed becomes a large tree. The idea is that God takes something with small beginnings and turns it into something significant.
  • Again we see this throughout the bible and history. For example in Acts – 3000 saved in a day – that’s an incredible revival moment, and you can see that from that small mustard seed beginning of 120 ish people in the upper room, God has brought about something big. God starts with the small, but he grows it into something big. Even that was just the beginning!
    • It is God who grows the tree. Without him we are going to look pretty silly. There’s a combination of assurance (I know God will) and desperation (I need God to) that leads to bold prayers and bold living.
    • A Forward looking Culture means we have a “What’s next” mentality? – Going for the next thing when the current thing is a struggle. We can’t bunker down into comfort – where we are now isn’t where we are going.

    God Spreads it Everywhere

    • Leaven is like yeast. When you put it in the flour it’s not just on one bit. HOW IS IT LIKE THE KINGDOM – Starts small but it spreads. It isn’t just about starting small and growing, but it’s about spreading. That’s what the kingdom does.
    • SPREADING INTO EVERY COMMUNITY – The growth that we looked at in Acts was the growth of one church in one place, but a few chapters into Acts it changes gear a bit and instead of just growing one church we see new churches in different places.
    • Develop a Spirit of Adventure. Continue to seek God about where to go. Maybe you could start gathering some people near where you live, see what God does and if it takes off we can plant there. Maybe you’ll be here for a while and then join a new site plant. Maybe God would have you go overseas. Listen to God and be ready to go as he calls.


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