By Anthony DelaneyNearly six years ago, I came back to Manchester, England, a city of 2.5 million people in the North of the UK where I used to be a cop, to take on leading a great church called Ivy Cottage.
It’s a long story of a church that started in a house (hence the name) and, by then, had a few hundred committed people coming along.
Words matter so I changed the name to Ivy Manchester pretty soon after arriving and said, "We’re out of the cottage and into the city!" Little did I know that statement would be a prophetic declaration. We outgrew the existing building fairly quickly and declared that, in two weeks’ time, we would meet elsewhere and would everyone pray for where.
Over the next couple years, we embarked on a journey and I suppose Ivy became a movement - when we moved. We met in a disused monastery, then cinemas in the bigger mall in our region, then in another city (that’s a big deal for Brits who don’t like to travel) and then came back to our original area. Now we meet in cinemas, a pub, a warehouse, and the old church building. As we moved, we grew everywhere. Ivy spreads and grows.
If you had asked me to get my napkin out as the book, Exponential, describes and draw our vision going forward, it would have been for more ‘Ivys’ all over the city of Manchester. That was big enough for me!
But, somewhere along the journey, I connected with Dave Ferguson who became a friend and informally mentored me for a while. One day he suggested that we formalize the arrangement (well, as formal as Dave ever gets!). We joined NewThing and I joined a small learning community called “LARN” as part of apprenticing to become a Movement Leader. That group has been so encouraging!
A trip to the USA to spend time face-to-face with the group equipped me, stretched my thinking and challenged my vision. I was part of a group who thought bigger!
So much in the UK church seems to be about managing inevitable decline. I don’t go for that. We don’t see that as our present or future reality. I want to be part of the church that prevails, a vanguard church that encourages others to believe God for massive impact.
One day, I finally plucked up the God-given courage to draw the whole of the UK and Ireland on my napkin with arrows going to and from the whole of Europe and connecting the USA. Drawing something that big was very scary.
Who am I to draw something like that? Well, I am NewThing UK - nice to meet you!
As I start to paint the picture of a preferred future, I’m having some incredible conversations with potential planters from all over the place who, likewise, want to create simple churches - large, medium and small - and apostolic networks to change culture, galvanize social transformation and preach a relevant gospel - helping people find their way back to God. Now open for Relationship, Reproduction and UK Residencies. Get on board!
Anthony Delaney is the Lead Pastor of Ivy Church in Manchester, England. He is participating in a unique NewThing Training experience for leaders of influence who dream of starting networks of reproducing churches. Interested? Contact us to find out more!