139: Colin Baron – Planting Multisite Before Multisite Was Cool

Colin Baron started church planting in the early 1990s and has started several churches through the UK, particulalry across Manchester where he has been ministering for the last 25 years. In this eipsode Colin talks a bit about his background and how he got into planting multisite churches. For more about Colin's story and church planting philosophy, see his recent book 'Multiplanting'.


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How Did You First Become a Christian?

  • Didn't really go to church as a child but was sent to Sunday school by his parents.
  • At 16 he went to a Methodist youth club and ended up at a prayer meeting. The second time this happened he heard someone speaking in tongues. 
  • Colin ended up shaking and met with God. He realised that God was real and wanted to follow him, and he joined the church. 

What Happened Next?

  • Colin left school and did a qualification as a heating engineer.
  • During this time he got more and more involved in church things. 
  • At the age of 21 he went to Bible College at Cliff College in Derbyshire, and it was during this time that he got married to Mary.
  • From college Colin got a job as a youth worker at a Methodist church, but never really wanted to be a minister. 

At What Point Did Church Planting Come Onto the Agenda For You?

  • In the Methodist church at that time there were lots of opportunities to do things - if you have a vision you have a job.
  • Colin has always been keen to have a go so at the time did lots of entrepreneurial things. 
  • He always has ideas and likes the early stages of things.

Tell Us About Your First Church Plant

  • It happened by default.
  • After three years working for the Methodist church, Colin and Mary had been planning to go to South America as missionaries, however the doors to this closed and an opportunity arose to work for a baptist church in the south of England that had just seen lots of teenagers saved. 
  • They moved to work for this church in Beaconsfield - which is now part of newfrontiers - and the leaders of this church felt a desire to plant into a nearby community, where Colin and Mary lived.
  • So Colin and Mary started this new plant with a group of around 40 of their friends. 
  • This was more of a pastoral plant with a group of friends than a new pioneer work. 

How Did It Stop Being an Accident

  • After a year or two of the plant, Colin was appointed as an elder.
  • At the appointment there were lots of prophecies about being a pioneer, and Terry Virgo had felt stirred to preach on Joshua - which all helped Colin see he would be a pioneer.
  • From here they ended up moving to Swanley and planting again. 

How Did You End Up In Manchester?

  • As a movement, Newfrontiers had received a prophecy about pulling a bow back into the nation and people being fired out into Europe.
  • At the time, it was primarily a movement in the South East of England. 
  • In the end Colin and Mary, with one other couple went to Manchester to start a new church from scratch. 
  • There were then a few months before going and Colin reflected on what he would and wouldn't want to do.
  • He didn't like some of the comparisons made between churches regarding numbers. He also understood how lonely church planting can be. As a result he started to wonder whether there was a different way of doing things. 

What Was Your Rationale In Your First Wave of Church Planting?

  • On the car journey up to visit, Colin was listening to a talk by Steve Nicholson who talked about how people have stopped dreaming and challenged people about what their dream is.
  • Colin said to the radio, 'My dream is to plant 20 churches in Manchester!'
  • Colin mentioned this to Terry Virgo, and Terry encouraged him to share the 'vision for 20 churches' to a gathering of leaders! He resisted a bit but Terry insisted - in that moment Terry had more faith for it than Colin did!
  • There was lots of faith for it amongst the people in the room and this came through in the praying.
  • Often you can have more faith for people than they have for themselves - this can be an important part of developing leaders.
  • This all made Colin start to think differently about Manchester. There was no blueprint for what he wanted to do. 
  • Multisite wasn't really a thing at the time, so there was a bit of pushback when Colin started to speak about starting something that had characteristics of both a large church and lots of new planted congregations.