043: The Pioneering Bridgehead

Colin Baron is a church planting Yoda who has been involved in starting many new churches in Manchester, elsewhere in England and in many other nations. Colin currently leads Christ Church Manchester, which is part of the Catalyst Network of churches in Newfrontiers and he is the founder of the Broadcast Network. In this podcast episode, we interview Colin about the role of pioneering bridgeheads in church planting. 


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You often talk about a 'pioneering bridgehead' in church planting. What do you mean by this?
  • Sometimes you need somewhere to land as a pioneer when you are moving from place to place.
  • When Colin first came to Manchester, there were a couple who were already praying for a church to be planted there, but needed someone who could lead it. Their house was a bridgehead into the city. 
Can we do this intentionally, or are we just looking for people who are already there?
  • In the Bible, Paul deliberately asked Priscilla and Aquila to go to Ephesus and to get established as a bridgehead there.
  • Some people will go to a city or a village but they won't be the right people to lead something (and they will acknowledge this themselves). 
  • They can open their home, gather a few people and give you a room to go to when you are ready to start some meetings.
What are some of the key gifts and qualities that you are looking for in a bridgehead?
  • A good relationship with those who will be coming in after.
  • People who are not trying to grasp things, and who are not phased when another leader comes in.
  • Hospitable.
  • Faith.
  • Prayer.
  • Good Christians!
How do we make the transition from the bridgehead leaders to other leaders as smooth as possible?
  • Sometimes it can be tricky.
  • If there is a grace on it, then it might be that the person who was seen as a bridgehead actually gathers people and can lead it after all.
  • Those coming in afterwards could actually wreck something if God has his hand on it as it is.
This model of church planting could leave things quite ill-defined. How do you help people to live with this?
  • Don't scatter too broad.
  • Don't over-promise.
  • When Jesus sent out the 72, they were bridgeheads going ahead of him.
What tips do you have for church leaders who are looking to establish bridgeheads around them?
  • You need to start by getting a new mindset. 
  • Many church leaders think mainly about their own church, but you need to take a step back and think in terms of a region.
  • In order to reach 5, 10 or 20 towns/villages in a region, then the life of the leader will need to change. 
  • If you don't have this mindset shift, you will end up with some very frustrated pioneers.
  • Paul seemed to think in terms of regions (e.g. 'Asia')
When you have identified potential bridgehead pioneers, what are your first couple of moves to help them get established?
  • Keep in mind the goal of getting a congregation and some kingdom activity going in that place.
  • Look at what gifts those people have and see what you can do with those gifts.
What encouragements do you have for people who are currently pioneering?