065: The Power of Prophecy to Get Churches Unstuck

Tom O'Toole is part of the team that leads Christ Church Manchester and manages the Broadcast Network. In this episode, Tom tells the story of how one of the CCM churches in Manchester got stuck and the role that prophecy played in getting that church unstuck.


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CCM:Gorton
  • The church was planted on the east side of Manchester in 2007 and was the original CCM from which the others have since been planted. 
  • They were meeting in Hyde and were drawing people from all over East Manchester.
  • In 2009/10, a couple of key things happened.
  • Church planting became front and centre - this meant that the strategy was both bigger (a vision to reach the whole city by pioneering new churches and sites into every community) and smaller (because each site could focus on its own local community and no longer needed to be a base for East Manchester).
  • They lost the venue in Hyde - after trying a few places they ended up meeting in Gorton, one of the UK's most deprived communities and a place that quite a few people in the church lived.
Getting Stuck
  • History has proved these shifts to be beneficial - but in the short term they took a toll on the Gorton church.
  • Quite a few people left - either to be in churches more local to them or because they didn't really get the multiplied church planting idea.
  • The new venue was less than ideal and there were not many new faces in the church. It was stuck.
  • One of the leaders had a picture in a prayer meeting of a bus and said that people get on a bus when they see the destination is somewhere they want to go. CCM had a vision city-wide but needed to get clear what the destination on the bus was locally in Gorton.
Burgers and Beer
  • The conversation continued in an elders meeting a couple of weeks later over burgers and beer.
  • Everyone was sharing what they would like to see, but nothing seemed to stick. Eventually the conversation turned to the question, 'what has God said to us?'
  • Two particular prophetic words seemed to stand out at that moment - one from around 20 years earlier and the other from 3 or 4 years earlier. 
  • Both of these words had similar themes - they both talked about God's love coming to Gorton and used the visual image of water that brought life and blessing to a barren place. 
  • This is also a Biblical picture. It is seen in the rivers flowing from Eden, in Ezekiel's vision of the river flowing from the temple, in the rivers of living water that Jesus says comes from the hearts of believers, and in the river that flows from God's throne in the new creation. Every time the river comes from a place of God's presence and it brings life and blessing to everything around it.
  • This idea captured the imagination - and it was clear what the destination on the front of the bus needed to be.
Getting Unstuck
  • The leaders brought this vision to the church - and the people got it and things started to change.
  • Weariness subsided, joy returned, there was increased unity, new people started to come and join the church, people got saved and lots of people got healed.
  • The turning point was asking the key question 'what has God said to us' and shaping church life around those prophetic words.