City Impact Through Hyperlocal Engagement (with Tim Simmonds)

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How to Reach a City

  • In this hangout, Tim Simmonds will be sharing the model that CCM is going for in Manchester, but the principles are reasonably applicable in any western context.
  • Around 5 years ago, the church was around 50 people gathered in a poor area of East Manchester. There was a desire in the church to grow, to see salvation and to see the community impacted.
  • The big question that was being asked was ‘How do we reach all of Manchester for Jesus?’
  • As a city, Manchester is diverse, proud, creative and entrepreneurial.
  • Another key question was how to reach the poorest and most deprived areas of the city – not many others were doing it, and those that were had not seen much success. This is the same situation as is in many working class areas across the UK.
  • Another key question was how to get all of the members of the church fully engaged in mission.

Tim’s Lightbulb Moment

  • In 2009, Tim Simmonds moved from Birmingham to Manchester and lived in a region called Levenshulme.
  • He started reading local blogs and found one called Love Levenshulme. The owner moved away and Tim took on running the blog with another person and blogged about local parks, pubs, kebab houses, etc., and ended up getting quite a lot of readers.
  • This made Tim realise that people are very proud of the areas that they live in, and also very critical of them (because they are proud of them). This is true of many areas of the city, including those areas that outsiders might look down on.
  • Tim realised Manchester is actually a lot of villages pushed together, but the hearts of these village still exists.
  • If one of these villages thrived, the other villages in the city were pleased for it – there isn’t really a sense of rivalry.
  • People can connect with community in different ways. Some people feel part of something when sitting with 72,000 people at Old Trafford and others feel more connected with 10 people watching their kids play for the school team.
  • The leaders of CCM began to wonder whether this mentality of locality could be applied to the church.

“We wanted to create a church that was very focussed on it’s local area and yet passionate about the whole city.” (Tim Simmonds)

A Hyperlocal Church

  • This is a term that is stolen from the bloggers.
  • Many people’s lives will be worked out in small areas around where they live, where they work and where their children’s schools are.
  • A lot of people don’t have the time or energy to try to reach a whole city, but are highly motivated by the community in front of them.
  • The danger of a hyperlocal focus is losing sight of the bigger picture – it can limit your view of success to what you see in front of you.
  • This can be demotivating if you are planting in difficult areas (often the rougher communities). It can also present problems in more affluent areas, who have no idea of what life is like in other parts of the city.
  • Tim has noticed that the resources, money and people in a city don’t often move into the more difficult areas.

City-Wide Impact

  • CCM wanted people to work hard in their local areas but lift their heads and see a vision for the whole of the city.
  • They wanted a church that was engaged in all areas of the city’s life – the different work, education, creative, political and racial aspects of Manchester’s culture.
  • They wanted every part of the city to celebrate what God is doing in other parts of the city.
  • They wanted money and resources to flow freely around the city.
  • They wanted a church that was for all of Manchester.

Bringing It Together

  • Tim & Vicki moved to Manchester because a congregation of 50 people had been praying, and they planted out with 6 people from CCM:Gorton (on the East of Manchester) to plant CCM:City (in Fallowfield, near the universities).
  • They didn’t want the church plant to separate out and build it’s own things and drift apart.
  • They wanted the two to be knitted together and to each get the benefit of the other.
  • They wanted to work hard for the areas that they were in, but to dream big for the whole city.
  • They realised that they could best impact the city as one church, but in order to impact the city they would need to plant (if you wait until you’re big enough to plant, you will never end up doing it).
  • In the end, they became multi-site accidentally!
  • A lot of churches end up doing multi-site to solve a growth problem (for example outgrowing their building). In CCM‘s case, there was a realisation that planting was needed in order to grow.
  • CCM has a multisite model that is run by church planters – at times this can look quite chaotic.
  • CCM is an entrepreneurial church and is good at going from 0 to 50 people (Colin Baron, in particular, has a track record of doing this).
  • As well as contextualising the city, we need to contextualise ourselves. What gifts do you have? What do you have faith for? Tim has faith to reach 1000 people in blocks of 50-70 but not for 1000 people in a warehouse (though there is nothing wrong with doing that).
  • When a site does reach 50 people, CCM doesn’t put the handbrake on growth – but every site should be thinking about planting out. It is part of the church DNA.

The Present Day Reality

  • 7 years ago, CCM was 15 people in somebody’s house in East Manchester.
  • Now there are 4 meetings in 3 different locations in Manchester – GortonCity and Withington.
  • There are around 200 people altogether.
  • Most of the things in the church are devolved to site leaders.
  • The things that are done church wide are: eldership, there is one charity, finances (though within that, each site has its own budgetand the goal is for money to flow from more affluent to poorer areas), the website and a once per year CCM day.
  • The main leader is Colin Baron and the church his built on his apostolic
  • The church is looking to plant into more areas, including West Didsbury, Salford and Ashton.


  1. What are some of the challenges of going to multiple sites and yet keeping a city-wide vision?
  • You need to talk about it a lot.
  • When anchoring a meeting, Tim tries to refer to the bigger picture and the other sites every week.
  • Whenever there are prayer meetings (which are often site specific), try to pray for the other sites as well – both those that currently exist and those that you hope will exist in the future.
  • Try to keep the branding consistent across the church.
  • Share people’s talents – for example, one site can lend musicians to another site for an event.
  1. How do you get people who don’t feel like they are evangelists to talk to people about Jesus?
  • It is important for people to be comfortable with who they are.
  • Stage of life can be an important thing for people.
  • Try to help people to see what they are good at, and not to feel guilty about what they are not so good at.
  1. Are there any key characteristics in the group of people that can help a group grow from 6 people to 20?
  • Colin Baron often suggests that there are a number of factors – including the gifting of the leader, geography, social demographics.
  • Church plants often grow through Christians moving into the area. In poorer areas, not many Christians live there, move there or want to go to church there.
  • We are not scared of starting something and having it not work.
  • We try to build a desire in the church to have a go, and to be gracious with us if we try something that doesn’t work. In this case we will try again (either in the same place in a different way, or in a different place).
  1. Did you lose any people when you went multi-site?
  • Going multi-site wasn’t presented as some big vision. Initially an evening meeting was started and then the church talked through the implications. Then another Sunday morning meeting and yet more implications.
  • As this vision evolved in time, it became clear to some people that the church wasn’t going to be one big gathering in one place – and they felt it wasn’t right for them.
  • We have also gained a lot of people through it.
  1. What has been the staffing intensity as you have grown?
  • We don’t have any full-time staff members.
  • We have a few people working for the church part-time.
  • A lot of people do things in their spare time.
  • We get people involved in volunteering very quickly.
  1. How have you developed worship leaders and other leaders on the ground?
  • Most of them are home grown, but a few people have moved in who have led worship before.
  • Manchester University does seem to attract a lot of musicians – and as a church we have a lot of hobby musicians and semi-pro musicians.
  • We have 9 bands across 3 sites (including 9 worship leaders), plus more that we want to bring through. This is deliberate, because we want to plant out more and to send good musicians with those plants.
  • We want to have worship music in our meetings that musicians who come along would not be put off by, and we have had a few join us because of this.
  1. Why does each site have its own preaching schedule?
  • It allows different flavours to come through in each site.
  • It helps to develop people – we have preaching training courses that help bring them through.
  • This can sometimes affect the quality, but in general the standard of preaching is increasing, and the entrepreneurial model means that we teach people to be gracious with new preachers, worship leaders, etc.
  • A lot of the people who preach do so alongside other intense commitments (for example people with full-time jobs and busy mums with kids).