LAUNCH 2018 IS FULL – AND I’M TEARING UP MY ‘DREAM NAPKIN’

If you’ve read Dave and Jon Fergusons’ book Exponential (if not why not?) one of its main ideas is that you draw your vision on a napkin. (Check out Dave’s artwork from a recent tweet on this) I’m not very good at drawing (and in the UK we call them serviettes which doesn’t have the same ring), but as a Manchester church leader drawing my ‘dream serviette’ used to be easy – circle for the M60,  drop a few dots around for new Ivy churches. I was running that plan until I went to Chicago in 2014 where God challenged me through coaching and friendship with Dave, Jon and other NewThing leaders to draw the UK, and help, partner with and encourage others planting here (we’re going to roll out that same coaching community in the UK in early 2019, first details and application opportunity will be revealed at LAUNCH). In 2015 I met again with other Dave and a few others in Nairobi Chapel, where its incredible leader Oscar Muriu drew the whole world (rather well), parcelled it off […]


Let’s Talk About Sex

Tomorrow evening I start a new series at Ivy Central, Didsbury 7pm I’m calling FIRST LOVE. When I was on holiday this year I had a dream that when I woke up I felt like God was saying we should look at the whole area of sex and sexuality and relationships, friendships, marriage, singleness, gender and so on. I’ve never really gone into these things though it seems everyone else talks about them all the time but my reason has been ‘I want to keep the main thing the main thing and just focus on Jesus and the good news.’ But who is the good news for? And how come the world does not see the church as its purveyor? It would be hard to disagree that one of the main reasons is for how we’ve gone about this. I’d planned a one off teaching on singleness and dating but I felt like we had to go further and deeper into messy areas the church has traditionally made such a mess of discussing,  where there’s an incredible amount of hurt […]


Could The Question This African Pastor Asked Me Hold The Answer For Dying Churches In Europe?

I’m writing from Kenya, having already been here a week as part of the Viral church planting conference hosted by NewThing apostolic leader Bishop Oscar Muriu of Nairobi Chapel. Sometimes because ‘a fish doesn’t know it’s wet’ you have to step out of your own context for God to help you see it better and that just happened here for me. After some of the most challenging yet encouraging talks I ever heard, the three days concluded movingly with a stage filled with the church planters Nairobi Chapel are now sending out this year– all held a blazing torch as they were introduced and we heard their story, they were then anointed with oil, prayed over passionately and commissioned. It was an unforgettable moment. The rigorous leadership training process outlined to bring these men and women to that stage would be the envy of any church or movement – now they’ll be released to plant churches. Most will be in their own nation where 93% of the nation are poor by world standards. There they will plant all kind of […]


Intentional Prayer and Planting

I’ve been here through NewThing in Nairobi Kenya at the Viral conference the atmosphere is prayer soaked and the results are very evident! I have not been able to blog too much as I just want to wrestle with the implications of such an incredibly rich time though I will share some more thoughts in the weeks ahead as I remain doing ministry here, writing and teaching and learning from leaders in other cities here. One line is resonating as I write now from a talk from Bishop Philips Katutu, who said he stopped planting churches in 2016, then came to the Viral conference put on by Nairobi Chapel and subsequently became very intentional about it and has planted 23 since! He took us through the action in Antioch from Acts 13:1-5 13 1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul […]


The Hero Maker Secret

I became a Christ follower a short while after a challenge from an attractive woman who gave me a Bible. I was interested in her so I pretended to be interested in that. She had written a verse in the flyleaf, Mark 8:34. I also pretended I knew all about religion too (enough to try to put her off God and onto me hopefully), because I was ‘already a good Christian’- but now I was stumped. Mark.. 8.. Was this a code? I remembered her previous boyfriend’s name was Mark. Hmm. What did it mean? She frowned as she opened the book and helped me find the verse, which she’d underlined already – ‘If anyone would come after me he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’ I told her I didn’t understand what it meant – and she told me the fact that I didn’t understand it meant I was not a Christian. She’s taught me a lot more since we later married, but that was what I needed to hear most – and not just at […]


Hero Maker Book Summary 1 – The Power Of Hero Makers

As we prepare for our exciting church multiplication catalyst event LAUNCH 2018 I’m so excited by our theme HERO MAKERS! I am going to blog some thoughts as I reread and summarise some  thoughts from this great book by Dave Ferguson and Warren Bird. I believe it should be a game changer. If implemented this would be a huge part of recalibrating the church for the reproduction and missional impact we long for. They open with the story of Barry, a ‘big dog’ successful business leader who felt like something was missing until he started to focus less on his leadership and more on the leadership of others. The words he used next form the basis for the rest of the book; EVERYONE WANTS TO BE A HERO YET ONLY A FEW UNDERSTAND THE POWER IN BEING A HERO MAKER. Ferguson then credits Todd Wilson, executive Director of Exponential as an example to him of this kind of leader. ‘He creates the platform – and lets me stand on it.’ Those of us who know both men recognise Dave’s typically understated and […]


The church’s greatest (missed) opportunity

A while ago I called my friend J John and he said, ‘Hey I was just talking about you! I’m here with Michael Harvey – do you know him? You should connect!’ We did, and it was very enlightening, so much so I had him address our team this morning. He  co-founded Back To Church Sunday and I urge you to check out his site. He’ll join us as a guest at Launch 2018 and I’d love to hear more from him in 2019 too as I believe his message is vital for the church to grab hold of and implement. Here are my notes from his presentation.  How does invitation play a role in how people find their way back to God? How would you rate yourself as a church in welcoming? How would you rate yourself as a church in inviting? A lot of the time we have been intentional about the first, but not the second. We can make invitation around certain points of the year Christmas… Easter… And what about the Sunday after? It can sound […]


How Do We Raise Up Evangelists In Church? The Answer Is Not What You Think.

What is God’s will for the church? Maturity. That the people in it grow together as the body of Christ reaching out to the world around us. God wants all of our churches to grow up. But the church has developed a strange view of maturity. We’ve equated it with knowing more Bible verses than someone else, or going to more meetings. That’s not how God measures maturity. Ephesians 4:15 says, ‘We must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.’  We’re meant to grow up, in every way, into Christ, the head. Head of what? His body. What’s his body? The church. You can’t grow into the maturity God wants for you outside of the church of which he is the head. So how does that happen? The answer is in the same chapter; the way that ‘all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ…’ is when we release all the gifts of […]


Leader – Don’t Accept The Default!

What internet browser do you use? Why would it matter? I was reading a fascinating book, Originals by Prof Adam Grant, a fifteen year study on creativity, looking at who makes breakthroughs in every area of life, science, the arts and business, nobel prize winners and so on. He cites a study of an office, a sales environment – where they picked out fairly easily the individuals who were pushing things forward. People who had longevity in post, stuck at their tasks longest and who ‘took the initiative to see the vision fulfilled.’ They looked for similarities. They couldn’t find any. There were all sorts of backgrounds, shapes and sizes. Then on a whim someone looked what internet browsers everyone used – and was stunned! Because the ones who used Chrome or Firefox stayed at their jobs 15% longer than those who used Internet Explorer or Safari. They missed work 19% less. They also performed way higher – making shorter calls, but lots more sales. They rated themselves happier, their customers rated them better. So what made the difference? They […]


The Most Hated Machine At The Gym – Measures To Motivate

I started my talk at the LAUNCH conference by talking about this machine. Two years ago, overweight and with blood pressure on the rise, I stepped on it and held the handles. There are lots of machines in the gym but I hated this one, because the readings were not pretty. I was 50 but the machine said I had the body of a 51 year old. What do you do? Resign yourself to the inevitable? Go to the cafe at the gym and buy a donut? Resolve to never go on that machine again? Or – CHANGE. I stopped some things, and I started some things. That’s a strategy. Dietary changes. I got coached toward a new exercise plan – and worked it. I stopped drinking alcohol (that’s a lot of sugar!). I drink a lot of water. This changed my results. I went on the machine today. 2 years on, my ‘metabolic age’ is 36. If I carry on, in a few years time I’ll be 21!  Maybe not. But with all the hard work of the conference […]