Pray For Manchester Today – Blog – More Questions Than Answers

    I go to bed early. But through the night the phone in the corner kept buzzing away at an unusually high rate. Then this morning the phone rang and I was asked by someone in the press what I thought about what has happened  here in my home city Manchester. Within minutes I had read all the texts, had all the information, and all the questions, but so few answers. How can this have happened here? I love this city that I lead Ivy Church in so much! My year started at the Arena as over ten thousand of us gathered to pray in the New Year for Festival Of Praise. Now I hear of this carnage in the same place. One of our  friends, an Ivy member, was there with his kids last night at the concert there, he says a last minute mess up with the tickets put them away from the seats they should have been in right where the blast was, so they were saved. I thank God for them, but then so many […]


You Can Build A Ship, But You Can’t Make The Wind Blow. Matt Chandler

My notes from a stand out talk from this year’s Exponential West 2016; At conferences, you see the speakers up there, like they have something special going on, and then there’s’ little old me.’  Like they have these great big ocean liners and you’re in your little rowboat. But that’s not what matters. We can all aim to implement great practices; we can try to build that a bigger, better ship.  But… we can’t make the wind blow.  We can gather, we can motivate, but we can’t transform.  We are so much in need of the Holy Spirit to blow that wind, in the hope that we move forward. We must not think though, that He isn’t a magical genie in a lamp that you simply rub and it will happen! What we can do is look at the place where the wind blows. If we position ourselves where the wind has a tendency to blow, it will happen. Amid the books, the conferences or podcasts we can all think ‘the Church needs Tim Keller, or someone…’ but he put Keller […]


What Season Are You In?

From the window where I’m sitting the season is one of my favourites – autumn, but the people I was with last week would call it fall, and by virtue of the fact that people read the blog from all over the world, I’m not going to assume anything. We often think in terms of what time it is, and plan our lives by the clock or the calendar. I live day to day, plan month to month, and have an awareness of what season I am in, whatever the weather. Ecclesiastes 3:1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. What season of life are you in right now? You have to discern what season you are in, because you can’t be the same in each of them. I heard a talk years back by Jim Rohn who described these four seasons and though I have forgotten the detail of what he said, I’ve tried to apply the wisdom from it. WINTER – Hang in There! Job 37:6 “He directs the snow to fall […]


IF God is so good, why is the world so bad?

Every day for weeks we have been bombarded with horror stories. Orlando and then various cities in the USA, Baghdad, Syria (of course), then Nice – a place where Ivy has mission partners that I have visited so it feels a lot closer to home. It really wasn’t that long since Zoe and I sat on the Promenade des Anglais, looking out at the sea and praying together. A beautiful place – and then irrational, unfathomable evil is unleashed and the innocent suffer again. How are we supposed to deal with it? And whether you believe in God or hate the idea of God, you have to deal with it. Sociologist Peter Berger said we all have to come up with a solution to this for ourselves in some way, or we’ll find the world unbearable. We’ll crack up. That’s one reason the world is so hopeless and fearful right now. People are still trying to figure it all out, and they can’t… Last night at Ivy I addressed the issues in a talk entitled How can God be good, when […]


Praying For The #OrlandoShooting

I have been to Orlando, it’s a fun place. I went for a conference and that was work so Zoe told me I couldn’t go to Disney or have too much fun. But I still had some fun. It’s not a scary place. I walked around in the evenings and felt fine. Maybe it’s the ex-cop thing, but I’ve been in many far tougher places around the world over the years and I generally don’t feel scared walking around anywhere. I don’t know about you but I find it harder to pray for places I’ve never visited when I hear terrible news on the TV (and there’s just so much of it). Perhaps the fact that I have been there makes it easier for me to pray for the city, and weigh heavier on my heart. I imagine the terror in those moments of those inside the club, I think of the families involved who now mourn lost children or relatives, or maintain waiting vigils at their bedsides hoping and praying they pull through. If I hadn’t ever been there, […]


Lying Down Beside Still Waters, In Nettles.

10 years ago I had a nasty fall off a mountain bike, smashed the bike helmet (this is why I always wear one) my right shoulder, and my neck. I knew I’d got it bad when the first thought I had as a spat bits of teeth out was, “Who’s going to preach on Sunday?” I can’t really recall being off sick since – until today. Yesterday I had a nasty fall off a mountain bike, and smashed my left shoulder. The front wheel overran the path, down the river bank and over the top. Thankfully I didn’t fall in the river but I landed in nettles, which meant my first thought this time was, “Quick, get out of these nettles!”. I knew my shoulder was bad immediately so rode home one-handed then went to casualty. I have to go to the hospital again on Thursday but the X-Ray seemed to show a break in the clavicle and some dislocation. Thank God for the NHS. Really, if you live in the UK, you know you should. They gave me strong […]


Time To Go Can Be Your Time To Grow!

Today I got TWO letters of resignation from two of our best leaders. Matty and Nick aren’t leaving because they don’t want to be at Ivy (they’re not even leaving Ivy, they’ll still be part of the church). The letters were expected, because we’ve talked at length about where they’re at and what God’s calling them out of – and into. Both have a different path ahead of them, but what’s common is that it will always all be about Jesus. Someone asked me recently, ‘What’s Ivy’s biggest challenge?’ I said, ‘When you tell people they can go and change the world for Jesus, they start to believe you – and go and do it.’ Ivy’s that kind of a place and I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is why we need to keep raising up more leaders. Leaders we invest in, and hope will stay, but only as long as they should. Leaders with backbone enough to let go of certainty and not retreat into what’s safe – because they are NOT leaders. You can’t play it safe […]


LEAD BY VISION

As part of Ivy’s ‘Year of Equipping’ we have booked selected world class leaders to lift the lid on our leadership and help us all go to the next level. If you were to give yourself a score 1 to 10 in terms of how you lead, how well you steward your God-given influence, what score would you give yourself? If you’re brave enough you could ask those you lead to rate you! We aim through these ‘Equipped To Lead’ events to help those who lead at Ivy go from where they are now, to where God intends them to be. My friend Nick Klinkenberg visited this week to bring a wealth of experience having pastored various churches in New Zealand as well as coaching and planting across Europe. This really is a great talk and Nick’s passion for leadership that makes a difference and love for people just shines through! Make some notes on how to ‘LEAD BY VISION.’


How to release prophecy in the church – without being weird

How can we encourage people that God wants to speak to them personally? I’m at the residential as one of the faculty of WTC at the moment and we just enjoyed listening to Brad Jersak as he briefly taught some principles from his book ‘Can You Hear Me?’ about releasing ‘The Prophethood Of All Believers’, and then we got to do it. Glorious! I look forward to us hosting Brad as Ivy later in the year and hope he’ll teach and model more on this for us. In the meantime, here are my notes:  Jesus said, ‘My sheep hear my voice.’ He has confidence in us, that it should happen. In the same was as all Gods’s people are intended to be witnesses, all God’s people are meant to be prophetic, though not all are prophets. There are some very impressive ‘prophetic types’  but the default mode for prophecy is not from strangers but from someone who loves you. So, if someone you don’t know (or you don’t know loves you) gives you a word, check it with someone who you […]


I Just Had An Epiphany

Tonight at Ivy Didsbury Andy Smith blew us away with an incredible talk about the Magi, those outsiders from the East who found themselves in Bethlehem shortly after Christ was born, and on bended knee gave the best of who they were and had to him. There was so much great stuff there I encourage you to subscribe to the Ivy podcast and listen to the talk in full when it’s up later in the week. But something Andy said almost in passing at the end really grabbed me. It was an epiphany at Epiphany! Here it is, as I recall what he said: “The wise men got there, and saw… a baby, an infant, a little child. But God says in Zechariah 4:10 despise not the day of small beginnings,’ and this child grew into the Saviour of the world.” As I sat there I thought about those VIPs. They came looking for the King of the Jews, right? What would that look like? They’d know what Kings look like. And they are somehow looking for God there, the […]