We have Moved

Blog by Andy Brownlee

We have Moved

So, you plant a church.

You hire a venue for your Sunday services.

Things go well. The church grows.

Then after four years you’re told the venue you’ve been using is being sold and you have to move. After lots of prayers, phone calls and emails, you manage to find a new venue, agree a date to move and before you know it, you’re having your final service in your old venue.

That was the situation I found myself in last Sunday at CCM:Withington. I was standing in front of the church at the end of the last ever service we would have at Manchester Bridge Club, our Sunday venue for the last 4 years. I’m not really sure how final services are supposed to go, but ours seemed to go ok, I think. We invited the owner of the Bridge club into the service to thank him, applaud him and give him a gift. We sang, we prayed, drank coffee and ate cakes as we normally do and then at the end of it all we shifted all our gear (everything from creche toys to hot water urns to speaker stands) to our new venue.

For me the final service at the Bridge club was bittersweet though. I was sad to be leaving a place that holds so many good memories for us as a church, but I was happy that we’d been able to make these good memories in the first place. It made me happy to think of how God had worked amongst us over these last 4 years. It made me happy to think about the people who have found their way back to God through CCM:Withington. It made me happy to think of the people who’ve got saved, who’ve grown in their faith and who’ve stepped into leadership. It made me happy to think of the prayers answered and the loving community that’s developed over these last 4 years.

Though its not always been easy.

I can still remember the early days of meeting at the Bridge club when there was only 17 of us. With 4 in the band and 2 leading kids work in another room that left 11 of us in the service (including myself) and I can remember just hoping (as silly as it sounds) that they would spread themselves out to make the room feel a little less empty. I think it’s fair to say those early days were hard. It often felt like one step forward two steps back.

There was one particular point, about a year after starting, that things came to a head. We’d had a few pretty low Sundays and a few discouragements on top of that too. I remember just sitting one Sunday afternoon and moping. I felt like jacking it all in. A few hours later I met with my Church Mentor. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. I expected sympathy but instead he just looked at me, sensed what I needed to hear and said matter of factly: ‘Andy, nobody ever said church planting was easy, if it was easy everyone would be doing it.’ I don’t know what it was about that phrase but something in it just helped.

That time was a turning point for me. I’d experienced what many church planters experience: I’d got to the end of myself. I’d been holding tightly to this church, trying with all by might to make it grow before realising, I can’t do this. I had to let go and let God take over. It was then that things began to change, slowly at first, but they changed. My attitude improved, I relaxed more, I trusted more, prayed more and people just started showing up. Things have changed a lot since those early days at the bridge club. It was great on Sunday to stand in a service that was full of people, praising God, from many nations, backgrounds and cultures. God has really blessed us at the bridge club and we’re praying that he will continue to bless us in our new home at Ladybarn Community Centre.

Why not come along some Sunday, we’d love to meet you.

Our first service in Ladybarn (Ladybarn Community Centre, Royle St, Manchester M14 6RN) will be on Sunday 30th September at 10:30am.

Andy Brownlee

Andy Brownlee

Site Leader - CCM:Withington

Andy is part of the the Christ Church Manchester leadership team and is the site leader of CCM:Withington. He also runs the CCM training academy, including the School of Theology and the Gap Year program.