Enjoyed spending an 'Agenda.1' day at the HQ of The Message Trust on Friday with some Manchester and national church leaders who are engaged in planting new churches. The Message's CEO Andy Hawthorne is a visionary pioneer whose influence has gone from city-wide to regional to national, with Eden projects now being started in deprived inner-city areas all over the UK.
Mick Woodhead from St Thomas's in Sheffield shared something of their recent history - church of 1,750, then 1,500 relocate to their central Sheffield church, leaving about less than 250, who then have grown to 1,100 in the last 6 years. Their simple vision is explained here. Mick's own story is an interesting one: had no particular Christian background but came to faith at 29; worked as a BT engineer for the next 20 years, then went to train as an Anglican vicar at 49; his first posting was to a dying church that he was supposed to close, but instead it flourished!; he then joined the leadership team at St Thomas's, and when Mike Breen reloacted to the US, became the Rector, with the church then growing by over 400%.