Four Callings That Framed Forty Years of Ministry

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Are there particular times where you have known God calling you to do what you were doing. 

  • Yes, there have been a few times over 40 years in ministry.
  • The first was at Bible college when a missionary from Indonesia came to speak.
  • Colin hadn’t previously felt that interested in missionary work, but felt God speaking all the way through the talk.
  • When he asked people to respond at the end of the talk, Colin was the very first to respond.

How did you know that God was speaking to you at that point?

  • He was talking about the hardship and the cost – and this was the thing that was most inspiring.
  • There was something internally – it went from just information to something moving.
  • Colin knew that this would change his life.

What did this life change look like? 

  • Initially it wasn’t much.
  • They had applied to go to South America as missionaries but this had been blocked on some practical reasons.
  • Ended up leaving it with God, and having become a movement leader with Newfrontiers, this became increasingly international.
  • It has  included a couple of years in America, and a lot of focus on overseas church planting, helping and coaching.
  • Colin had initially thought the call was to go and live oversees for a long period of time, but now realises it was actually that international church planting would be woven into his whole life.

What was the next moment that you felt a call?

  • After planting his first church, Colin was being appointed as an elder.
  • At the event, all of the prophecies given were about pioneering and not about the role he was being appointed to. Terry Virgo was preaching and all day he had been led to preach on Joshua.
  • Colin realised that he was being called to be a pioneer church planter, and this has shaped his life.

What was the third such moment?

  • Having planted the first two churches, Colin was asked to go to Manchester.
  • The first two were slow-growth and had lots of weaknesses.
  • When going up to Manchester to his first meeting, Colin was listening to a tape of Steve Nicholson asking what he was dreaming about.
  • Colin interacted with the tape and said that he wanted to plant twenty churches. In talking to others about it, he realised that this was God speaking to him and he had to go do it, and this has shaped how he has approached things over the last twenty years.

How far are you along with the twenty churches?

  • Planted twelve so far – two have since closed but the rest are going strong.
  • Now planting one per year.

Are there any other calling moments you would like to share? 

  • On first coming to Manchester, there was a desire to do a few church plants together that were strongly networked – there would be friends, autonomy, help.
  • A lot of people questioned it (this was before multi-site was a thing).
  • At a meeting, a preacher from another denomination picked Colin and his friend out from the crowd, described a conversation that they had had earlier that day and then prophesied that Colin would create a series of stakes joined together into a web.

Have there been any significant moments that you have moved forward without God speaking in this way?

  • Yes – it often comes down to people.
  • Before coming to Manchester, Colin had been asked to research what the next places to plant should be, and he identified Manchester and started looking for a leader for it, but other movement leaders said that it should be Colin so he went.
  • About three years ago, Colin and his wife were looking to move to the outskirts of Manchester and couldn’t sell their house. Colin’s wife realised they were moving in the wrong direction and needed to move into rather than out of this city and they were able to sell straight away.

What is the balance between looking for God to speak and going ahead and making a decision based on what we think best?

  • Part of it can be how we are wired – some people really need prophetic words, others really need good counsel.
  • Either way, you need to get to an inner conviction that it is the right thing to do.
  • You need to carry the personal responsibility for the decision that you take.