Embarrassed by Vision

Vision is a fascinating issue in church planting.

I have met people who think vision is ridiculous because the mission we have is laid out fairly clearly in the Bible. It’s a hard argument to disagree with. Jesus was fairly clear with what he wanted his people to do (disciples, nations, etc.). It’s a compelling call to action that, 2000 years later, is still astounding in its simplicity and magnificently difficult in application.

So churches shouldn’t bother with vision, they should just do what Jesus says and aim for that. We are all about salvation, redemption and restoration! Easy. Right?

When we started planting CCM:City, I had a compelling vision. Before I tell you what this vision was, I need to be honest and explain that it was actually our second “vision”. The first was an all-conquering mega church for the lost that everybody in Manchester had heard of. Simple, really. That’s where I started. After a few weeks (probably after one week), the reality of the situation dramatically altered my vision.

So what was the second vision?

“At CCM:City we are committed to still existing at Christmas” (We started public meetings in September).

This was so liberating!

People often asked me what the vision of CCM:City was. I would grin and repeat the vision statement. They would smile back and then ask me again what our vision was. I would shake my head and say, “Seriously, that’s the best I’ve got”. Big vision was merely a stick that I would beat myself with.

Perhaps, if I’d have articulated a bigger vision earlier and with confidence, then we would have grown quicker. Maybe. But I am who I am and I couldn’t bring myself to paint this incredible picture when there were only 12 of us. I felt ridiculous.

So we stuck to the basics – we worked social media as best we could, had coffee with most of South Manchester, prayed and kept meeting together.

This was nearly five years ago, and planting a church has changed me completely. The bigger vision is beginning to creep out of Christ Church Manchester. We haven’t written it down, and it’s not plastered across our website (yet), but if you showed up at a prayer meeting or a Sunday service, then you would know what we are about within a few minutes.

1000s of people. Stacks of church plants across Manchester. A whole generation engaged and sent.

I can say that in public now without wanting the ground to swallow me up.