It’s with great delight that I want to tell you about (announce!) that Christ City Church now has an Advisory Team. This blog is to explain a bit about the purpose of the team, who they are and how it will work. But first…
Leanne and I moved to Dublin on September 24th 2012 with the aim of starting a church. We were joined at a similar time by Justin and Caroline Anderson (who didn’t know each other back then!), Tim Gaston (who had just moved to Dublin from the UK) and Jake McHaffie (who had just arrived in Dublin from the US to study Veterinary Science for 4 years). So at our first house-church meeting there were 7 of us (Leanne’s mum happened to be visiting!). So began an exciting adventure! Do read back on why we moved to Dublin and the first part of the journey if you’re interested.
After two years of being a house-church, settling in, making friends, getting jobs, becoming financially sustainable, clarifying our vision and values, understanding the scene/culture of Dublin and growing the team to around 20 people we launched the church in October 2014 into Filmbase in Temple Bar. Since then we have established ourselves in Synge Street Secondary School and God has been very good to us over these last 3 years as we have grown. Our aim has always been to seek the spiritual, cultural and social flourishing of Dublin and to become a ‘church planting church’, so we have set the loose goal of planting another church/congregation between 2020-2022 as well as establishing a mercy ministry (possibly CAP). Here is a short blog I wrote about the first 2 years (there will be another one coming soon before our 3rd birthday).
We always wanted and knew that for the church and for ourselves as leaders to thrive we needed and wanted to put in place some support, accountability and advice from outside the church to help us on our journey. We still have good relational links back to our sending church Mosaic Church Leeds and we have other connections to the Newfrontiers Network which they belong to. Additionally I attend the Think Conference once a year which gives me a chance to network, be fed and find some support. But we’re not part of any of the Newfrontiers spheres and since coming to Ireland we haven’t felt that was right; partly because of time, partly because we wanted to be connected to Irish/Dublin churches and partly because there was no natural sphere for us to belong to when we moved over. That may change and we’re grateful for the relationships and support we get from our connections in Newfrontiers and want that to continue, but over the last 5 years we have wanted to connect CCC into similar minded leaders and churches within Ireland/Dublin.
And since arriving we’re grateful to God for (a) the initial welcome we received from the Christian Community in Dublin (it was overwhelming supportive and encouraging…beyond what we expected) and (b) the relationships with other leaders we have established. We are part of the EAI, connected in with IBI, have networked with other great churches and organisations in Dublin* and Leanne and I go to the Irish Preachers Conference once a year which is brilliant. We have also connected with Al Barth and City to City Europe which has been great too.
Purpose & Commitment & Structure
So what’s the purpose of the advisory team? Since at this time CCC is not part of any official network or denomination, Leanne and I wanted something that gives us support, accountability, a point of reference, an external voice into our church and advice. We wanted that from local Irish/Dublin people who we have friendships with and who we are already connected to and we wanted people who were a bit further on in life and have got some wisdom, battle scars and experience of church, church planting and ministry in Dublin.
- 2 meetings a year, over a meal, in our home.
- For each member to preach/teach in the church at least once in those 2 years (whether that be a Sunday, a Weekend Away, a seminar, in a leadership or staff meeting).
- For each member to be available for coffee or phone-calls during those 2 years as and when things arise and to continue to build the friendships.
- How are we doing? Leanne and I will share how we are doing as individuals, as a couple and as a family – arguably the biggest danger of church plants is isolation, burnout and sin within the leaders.
- How is the church doing? We’ll share a summary of how things are going and some of the challenges and opportunities.
- What’s the current season? We’ll look at 1-2 key decisions/topics that we’re thinking through that we want advice and guidance on.
The four people we have asked to be on the team are Sean and Ana Mullan, Pat Mullen and David Montgomery (yes Monty is the odd one out with the surname!).
During our first two years, Sean and Ana Mullan were particularly important to Leanne and I as we got ourselves established in Dublin. They have become good friends and trusted advisors and spoke on our church weekend away in 2013 and have both spoken at a Sunday service at CCC since then. They have a great heart for the city, for church planting and for people and have been involved in church planting in two previous contexts.
Pat Mullen spoke at our weekend away last year and we really clicked with his passion for the Bible, for grace and for the lost. He has been leading Grace Baptist Church in Dublin City Centre for 20 years so has lots of experience to share. Pat too has a heart for church planting which fits perfectly with us.
Monty will be our speaker at this year’s weekend away, is the Director of Christian Unions Ireland, has been pastor of two churches in Dublin and has even written a PhD on bi-vocational church planting (which is exactly what I am doing!). Since we want to reach the 18-35 year old generation, it’s great to have someone on the team who looks after student ministry in Ireland.
This is an exciting time for us as a church. We’re about to celebrate 3 years since we launched and our eyes are now on multiplication and, as mentioned, we’re prayerfully aiming to plant another church or congregation and start a mercy ministry by 2020-2022. The key to that is raising up leaders and people committing to the church for the next 3-5 years to see that through. Everyone has a role to play and we want to invest and develop those who want to be part of the journey. We have the 6:30 Leadership Course, we have the Internship and Apprenticeship and four times a year we gather our key leaders (leaders of City Groups, Sunday Teams or other ministries in church life) for training, prayer and vision-casting.
Part of our maturing as a church over the next few years will be to establish an official leadership team (we’ll probably call them elders and deacons) and then we’ll need to identify where we want to launch our next congregation, who will lead it, who will be part of the launch-team, what will be its purpose/mission will be and how it will relate to the existing church. I am full of faith and excitement for this, though I expect there will be a few bumps along the way. Having the Advisory Team to help us through this will be invaluable!
Please be praying that God will enable us to seek the wellbeing and flourishing of the city through all we do, that we will grow in greater freedom and joy in Christ as we do that and that many will come to know Christ as their friend, saviour and king.
*Churches such as Grosvenor Road, Adelaide Road, Holy Trinity, St Catherines, Every Nation, Grace Baptist, City Church, Destiny, Trinity Network to mention a few. As well as organisation like Solas, Innovista, CUIs, Agape, Fusion, Tearfund to mention a few