From the commissioning in June 2016, the journey officially began. We took to the road, found new homes (or at least houses), jobs and neighborhoods. We met in an upper room, worshiped and dreamed.
We found a venue, made a rota, bought the kit and started Sundays. Setting down and up a restaurant was not an easy task but we knew it was so worth it. We came for the one and soon the stories began to flow in.
We started small groups, we set up children’s groups, we kept our eyes on the vision of age relevant discipleship for everyone. Soon, we out grew our space and began to look for a new home.
100 venues later, Paul and Steph reluctantly decided on a place which would have to do for now. It was not ideal but we needed room to grow. In the face of uncertainty, they asked the church to pray and give. Not for ourselves, but to the city we came to love. After a humbling giving Sunday which surpassed all expectations, the phone calls started coming in. Venues changed their minds. Would we like to use their space?
A New Home
We moved into Dean Trust Ardwick, got to grips with the amazing new space, expanded the children’s groups, and prayed for and began delivering cards to the 10,000 homes around us.
Then our city changed.
On May 22nd 2017 the very heart of our community, our children and our young people, were targeted in a terrorist attack. The city mobilised to help the emergency services; blood was donated, equipment resourced. How was the church to respond?
Armed with a (borrowed) van, drinks, sweets and hope, we took to the streets. Bringing hope, bringing freedom, bringing Jesus.
From that day, our purpose and priorities remained the same, but our practicalities changed. In the months that followed, we bought our own van and it continues to resource and support our compassion ministry. This city has adopted us and we will do all we can to love those we now call family.
We have never been a Sundays-only church. We will always be pushing beyond the walls of where we meet. But meet we do, for it is here we are family, equipped, loved and ready to go out into the world.
During 161 days of teamwork, over 2,000 chairs have been put out and 2,000 drinks served. Over 23 days of fun has been had in children’s groups and the van has been filled with 1,000 nappies, 113 nearly new clothes and 500 items for our free Christmas shop.
We are still a church plant, and a young one at that, but we are an army and a hospital – doing what we can with what we have.
Where To Now?
We must not get comfortable. We will continue to ask God to break our hearts for this city He loves. The area we now meet in has devastating statistics when it comes to child poverty and domestic abuse. Our ties then with Dean Trust and the local children’s centres will be vital in the coming years as we aim to meet the needs of the last, the least and the lost.
Key on our agenda will also be fostering a culture of invitation. Church, you yourselves are invited to jump in, with both feet, to what’s going on. Be involved. Attend events. Bring friends. Everyone is invited. Everyone is welcome.
But most importantly, we want to fall more in love with Him who loved us first – with the One who who calls, equips and sustains.
To God be the glory, great things He has done.
Based on Paul’s Vision Talk 25/02/18 available at manchestervineyard.org