142: The Multiplanting Model

Colin Baron started church planting in the early 1990s and has started several churches through the UK, particularly across Manchester where he has been ministering for the last 25 years. In this episode Colin talks the multipanting model that he has developed. For more about Colin's story and church planting philosophy, see his recent book 'Multiplanting'.


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What Did You Have In Mind When You Returned to Manchester?

  • It took a while to work it out.
  • Colin had a big role travelling with Newfrontiers, so he came in with one of the churches he had planted before going - in a poor area of East Manchester.
  • This is a difficult area for a church to get traction in. It took a few years to get 30-40 people.
  • For a while Colin wondered whether to do one church in Hyde Town Hall or build more. 

What Was the Tipping Point That Made You Realise You Needed to Multiply

  • God had spoken to Colin about church planting and this was still in his mind.
  • He is better when he has a view over a whole region than pastoring a local church. 
  • In order to develop leaders you need opportunities to give them - and Colin loves developing leaders.
  • It was a big emotional thing to start again in his fifties.
  • The key move was starting a new site, and Colin became convinced of the need to do this in Fallowfield (the student area of the City).
  • Colin was praying for someone to come up and lead this work - and found Tim Simmonds to lead this work who started a couple of months after coming up.

What Was the Journey In Becoming 'Multisite'?

  • For a while we used the term 'hyperlocal'.
  • The need was to be both 'hyperlocal' and reaching the city. 
  • Being called 'family church' (as the first wave of planting was) was not helpful missionally.
  • The church was rebranded as 'Christ Church Manchester'.
  • This time however Colin wanted a trajectory that would keep the different sites together rather than planting them out.
  • We then started another site in Withington. 
  • Since then we have planted 6 or 7 new sites.  

How Do You Take a Group of People On a Journey to Multisite?

  • The first time around, everyone had gathered in knowing what it was.
  • This time Colin came into an existing group that had been together for a while. There were different ideas of what it would become. 
  • It can be difficult to change a small group as everybody seems to want to be consulted!
  • There are a few early adopters who 'get it' - the best thing is to start something small scale with those people. It doesn't affect everyone else too much but allows them to see what it is and see wins along the way.
  • It does take time, and there were a couple of people who left along the way.
  • It is about making a big noise but taking baby steps.
  • Every time you plant it has an impact on the congregation that you plant from - we call this the rip effect
  • By starting a new site small you aren't creating as much of a rip - but by starting so small it seems out of sync with the main site.
  • This is multisite with a church planting philosophy - you are pioneering from scratch. This is Multiplanting!
  • You don't want too much disparity between the sizes of congregations. This is challenging for churches with congregations of 200 or more. If the new congregation doesn't look like the others it feels isolated. 
  • At CCM the congregations are around 50-70 people and contextualised to different areas. 

What Is Different This Time Around?

  • Leadership - corporately and locally. First time round was about raising up pastor-teachers, but now lots more church-wide specialists are on staff too.
  • This gives the strength of what big churches can do but also the local engagement of community churches. 

How Is It One Church?

  • People feel like it is one church!
  • The preaching is different at every site, so this isn't what holds it in common - but the training of preachers is done commonly.
  • It is counter-intuitive and built on relational equity.
  • What keeps us together is discipleship and training, vision and relationship. We want to serve the sites not hinder them. 

What Does It Look Like For You To Be the Leader of CCM?

  • Colin has raised up leaders who can honour what he does and are going with it.
  • Getting alongside senior leaders and helping and developing them. 
  • Part of going to multisite is re-engineering the role of the senior leader. 
  • Sometimes you need to decide what to pick up with people and what to let go. It depends on a lot of factors.
  • It is better for people to self-learn but Colin will step in if necessary. 
  • Too many leaders try to push people into a particular system. We are a lot messier (the low bar).

What Is the Low Bar and the High Bar?

  • Many churches claim that they don't have enough leaders.
  • This can be because they have imposed an arbitrary standard that people must meet before they can lead. 
  • This disqualifies people - especially those who have tried and it's gone wrong. 
  • You want aspiration and for people to start doing things.
  • Peter denied Jesus - and in many churches he would be benched for years - but a few weeks later he was preaching to thousands and had learned from his mistake.
  • Very early on Jesus' disciples were involved and doing things. 
  • There is enough of the gift of leadership in the church for us all - but sometimes it is packaged in people who don't look like leaders.