A Confident Spirit: Becoming the Pioneer the Church Needs In This Age (with Anthony Delaney)

Watch the Video

Listen to the Audio

Read the Notes

Anthony Delaney’s Story

  • Anthony Delaney was originally a police officer, and then he was ordained in the Church of England.
  • He wanted to be involved in church planting, but to do so in a way that was not constrained by the parish system – but to leave the Church of England would have an impact on income, pension, etc. In a sense, it was golden handcuffs.
  • Anthony felt God calling him to step out into the unknown.
  • He came to a church that was then called Ivy Cottage. It was a good church, with lots of unity and prayer, and around 800 people. But it wanted to be more missional.
  • Anthony Delaney took them up on this when he came to lead the church. He told them that he would shake them up and it be not about who they could keep but who they could reach.
  • Anthony showed the church a video by Reinhard Bonnke (below) and promised them that the church would always be the lifeboats.

  • The church building started to become full – but that wasn’t enough.
  • Anthony changed the name of the church to Ivy Manchester. Names are an important thing, and this change of name signified the church moving out of the cottage and into the city.
  • Anthony told the elders that in three weeks time, the church would stop meeting at the current building, because it was full.
  • Over the next few years, they moved to a few different venues, and for various reasons, none of them quite worked out.
  • They also tried to church plant into a hotel, but this didn’t really take. They hadn’t spent lots of time praying or planning for it, they just decided to have a go.
  • They ended up pulling the church plant back in, but they had identified the guys who had stepped out for it as pioneers who could help them again in the future. They did not consider it a failure.
  • They surveyed the congregation using net promoter score One of the key questions that they asked was, ‘How likely is it that you would recommend us to a friend or family member?’ The follow up question of ‘why?’ is very revealing.
  • One of the responses that they received was that the environment was inconsistent depending on who was leading. They made a point of making sure the environment became consistent so that people could always feel confident bringing guests.
  • They were also connected in to the Leadership Network and started to wrestle with questions such as if they were to double in the next 3 years, what things would they need to do?
  • Anthony Delaney sees himself as a magpie who gleans the best practices from every kind of model.
  • They ended up planting into one of the biggest cinemas in the area (which felt way too big), and at the same time planted another site to reach students.
  • When your venue is 80% full, it is time to move because 80% full is full.
  • Churches should grow like a sigmoid curve rather than a bell curve. A bell curve would do a new thing when it reaches the bottom of the curve. A sigmoid curve would do a new thing at the top of the curve when everything is going well.

“When God gives you an opportunity, go for it.” (Anthony Delaney)

  • Ivy Manchester ended up getting featured in the Independent. You can read the article here.
  • They also started a new meeting in the building of the Message Trust.
  • They also planted back into their old building.
  • They did an Eden team (sometimes Eden teams fail because passionate people move into poorer areas but end up under-resourced to make an impact. Ivy were determined not to make this mistake).
  • In doing this, they ended up with different kinds of church – not just a cookie cutter model.
  • They have seen lots of conversions happening across their sites.
  • There has been a connection with Steve Addison who has been teaching them how to make disciples. Many Christians are told that they should be making disciples, but don’t know how.
  • They have found going door-to-door and offering to pray for people to be effective, along with recovery ministries and another Eden team.
  • They started an evening service that is a bit deeper and aimed more towards Christians.

“If you’re going to have a lot of shallow end, you need to also have a deep end.” (Dave Smith)

  • At Ivy, they are talking about their year of equipping.
  • The five-fold ministries of Ephesians 4 are about equipping people to do things, not just the ministers doing those things for people.
  • The leadership model is elder guarded, staff guided and member gifted.

“Your baptism was your ordination.” (Alan Hirsch)

Saul and Jonathan

  • When the people were in retreat and Saul only had one sword, he was hiding under a tree. It was like he was waiting for God to do something to sort out his problem.
  • Jonathan was the only other person to have a sword. He has a very different spirit – ‘come on, let’s have a go’.
  • Jonathan knew that he and his armour bearer were a massive majority if God was with them.
  • Their plan was not a strategy, it was just stepping out and doing the next thing that God leads them to do.
  • A massive turn-around takes place because a few people decide to have confidence in God and step out.


  1. Did you lose anyone when you brought the church plant that you tried back in?
  • It’s about how you set it up initially.
  • They never claimed it was prophetically discerned or a big strategic thing – if they had done so, then it could have been more problematic to bring it back in.
  • Anthony Delaney personally recruited people for it rather than asking for volunteers (which might leave you with just the wrong types of people).
  • Ask for a short commitment from people – 6 months works well.
  • Release people to be early-adopters and self-starters.
  • When you get the self-starters, you will end up getting everyone else as well.
  1. Can Anthony Delaney give the timescale of his story?
  • He moved to Manchester seven and a half years ago.
  • After a couple of years, they moved out of their venue.
  • As they moved around, people were added. Not many left, and those that did leave did so amicably.
  • It is important to be clear with people what kind of church you’re going to be.
  1. How did people find out about you with all of the moves that you made?
  • Through the website.
  • Through word of mouth.

“Sometimes people talk about being a movement but they stay where they are.” (Anthony Delaney)

  • As a church, they are on a journey and this gives people a story to tell.
  • Many church websites are designed for the existing people in the church, but they should be a big welcome sign for people who don’t know God.
  1. Why was the name change helpful for you, and is it possible to be too big with your name?
  • Ivy Cottage was started as a house church for workers who wouldn’t go to the big Anglican church.
  • ‘Cottage’ implies small and cosy.
  • There wasn’t a vote on changing the name, and there was only one person who objected to it.
  • Anthony Delaney used it to help the church to think differently. A good name change can do this.
  • The name has now been changed again to ‘Ivy Churches’.
  • They try not to pick geographically bound names.
  1. Can you reflect on the place of prayer in the church program?
  • A lot of the time, as they have stepped forwards into new things, they have just gone for it rather than waiting for specific words first.
  • Personally, Anthony Delaney has found journalling and fasting to be helpful with prayer.
  • Anthony has also stopped drinking alcohol, and has found himself thinking much more clearly and much closer to God.
  • There are lots of people in the church in grow groups praying regularly.
  • They are currently in the middle of 40 days of fasting over lent.
  • Anthony Delaney is an activist, but he has a lot of intercessors around him.
  1. How can we build reproduction and apprenticeships through the different things that we do in our churches?
  • This is explored in detail in the book ‘Exponential‘.
  • Anthony Delaney was recently challenged to get over himself and to pass on the things that he knows to others.
  • It is about having a spirit of wanting to help others to grow.

“I’m not responsible for filling your cup, but I am responsible for emptying mine.” (Andy Stanley)

  1. What was Anthony Delaney’s main passion/motivation when God called him to leave the police?
  • It comes from his first encounter with God.
  • he had been invited to a meeting with friendly people, good music, a warm welcome, a gospel presentation in terms he could understand by someone who clearly believed it.
  • This challenged his view of church and in time he changed his mind about God.
  • Anthony’s passion is helping lost people to find their way back to God and helping found people be equipped to reach others.

“We are not in charge of changing people’s minds about God, but we are ridiculously in charge of changing people’s minds about church.” (Anthony Delaney)

  1. How have you created a culture that can attract, keep and enthuse students?
  • By not going for Christian students but going for non-Christians.
  • It’s the same as any other segment of society. It’s about being intentional.
  • Read more on the difference between blue ocean strategies and red ocean strategies here.
  1. How do you keep consistency with congregations that are different?
  • You can’t please everyone but pleasing God is your aim.
  • Keep being who you are.