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Ground Zero to Lift Off – The Real Diary of a Real Minister Copyright Š Dave Gilpin 2006, 2009 The right of Dave Gilpin to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1998. Distributed by and all correspondence to: Hope City CHurch The Megacentre Bernard Road Sheffield S2 5BQ UK Email: dave.gilpin@hopecity.co.uk Web: www.davegilpin.com Tel 0114 213 2070 Fax 0114 276 9248 All rights reserved: No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without permission in writing from the author. Limited editing has taken place to ensure good readability.


ground zero to lift off The Real Diary of a Real Minister By Dave Gilpin


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

INTRODUCTION Still reeling from a major Church conflict that saw many leave Hope City Church, this is my actual diary that charts the course that has led to a time of amazing growth and vitality. From the 2

nd

March 1998 to 23

rd

May 2001, with instalments each

month and regular 2009 updates, this diary will encourage everyone who, through their courage and determination in God, decides to confront the issues that inhibit the health and growth of their Church, even if it means losing people they love and care for. At its inception, I audaciously entitled this diary, ʻThe Diary of the Sheffield Revival.ʼ Even though it concludes prior to its explosive projection, many of the seeds of both current and future exponential growth were planted during this three year duration, with almost every current core leader being planted in the house during this period. I hope that ʻGround Zero to Lift Offʼ really helps you also to leave the past, confront the present and press on towards the promises of God for His twenty first century Church. More power to you!

Dave Gilpin Senior Pastor – Hope City Church


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

ground zero to lift off The Real Diary of a Real Minister


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

2

nd

March 1998 th

On the 19 September 1993 Dave Cartledge, a national leader of the Australian Assemblies of God, prophesied that we, as a Church, would go through the gates of iron and brass of our City that many have confronted before but had never overcome. He also declared that we would go in the front way and not the back and the outcome of this would be known across the land. He declared that the Lord had many people in the City and was determined to do a great work.

He also declared that there were many adversaries both outside the Church and within it who would rise up and try to prevent the work that God wanted to do. This diary begins one and a half years after the unfolding of this prophesy, with over one third of our congregation deciding to leave the Church (with many more bleeding by the roadside and who would never survive). The battle lines of division were drawn within the Church. I had confronted what I believed to be a spirit of self importance, light footed-ness and a spirit of control that had slowly developed over our first 5 years amongst some key leaders, and the outcome of this was far more severe than I could have imagined. I was, though, prepared for war. Numerically our Church hit the ceiling at 270 people and would


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

go no further unless serious issues were addressed. Our mindset, now, was to run as fast as we could into our future destiny and leave our past way behind us.

I had found a new confidence in God that gave me the strength to do what had to be done. My previous lack of confidence had led to many key decisions being deferred to others and a power vacuum that was being filled by certain leaders who had stopped growing in their Christian walk. They needed to change or step down.

Yesterday in Church, Jenny (my wife) prophesied that we were now going through the promised gates and starting to enter our inheritance. There was no applause and no electricity in the air. The numbers were at their lowest in a long time and no one got saved. I preached on ʻGod gives grace to the humbleʼ and declared that thatʼs what I want to be. I had recently spoken to a group of churches in Lancashire and felt really bad that I had embellished the ministry write up of myself (including the huge measurements of our ʻjust signed forʼ Megacentre building) simply to impress. I vowed never to do that again.

It was strange for my wife to prophesy such a dramatic event in the midst of such an undramatic service. We usually


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

reserved great prophesies for the electric times of which we had had many but this was to be very different. Itʼs been a tough road not having seen any numerical increase in years and in actual fact, witnessing a severe decrease. Deep down though, there is a confidence – an assurance that our loss of people is more in the light of the reduction of Gideonʼs army rather than a retraction of the hand of God. We have great faith for the future. In the spirit of faith I have chosen to journal a history of events leading up to the ʻSheffield Revival.ʼ If itʼs true that we have gone through unseen gates to the City that have thwarted many in the past, then this must be the beginning of the next significant move of the Holy Spirit.

Itʼs only recently that I have learned again not to despise the day of small beginnings. Two recent testimonies have really encouraged me – a woman called Louise gave up her engagement because of the call of God upon her life and her commitment to our Church (her fiancé requested that she relocated.) Secondly, a guy called Colin gave up a large wage increase that was offered to him if he would relocate to Leeds also because of his commitment to the destiny of our Church. Within weeks, both of these people have seen souls saved as their reward.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

In last nightʼs Church service we had 3 commitments to Christ. One was Steve, a manager from Pizza Hut (who was saved through Louise), and another was a lady who runs a cat sanctuary.

An amazing thing happened today. We got a letter from a couple who were major players in the first 5 years in the life of our Church but had turned sharply on us and sowed vast quantities of seeds of malice and unrest. They had been hugely instrumental in the big clearout of the summer of 1996. It was a battering time of intense persecution and hardship, just as Dave Cartledge had prophesied back in 1993. Only one person in the whole congregation linked what had happened with the prophecy. Today they extended grace towards us to forgive us of our debt. Also the wife of another former leader (who had also left with a bang and taken many with him) rang up my wife and asked for a time of reconciliation. We found it amazing that these two things happened today. I sent a card to the first couple and told the Lord that Iʼd be open to allowing them back into our lives and restoring relationship. Itʼs a scary thought and I feel quite vulnerable but I realised that God expects more from me than from others.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

2009 UPDATE Dave and Marie Cartledge were greatly used by God in America and Australia, restoring the Apostolic mandate to churches. Sadly Dave left us this year to be with the Lord where he is now enjoying the eternity he so richly deserves! Louise has become our awesome City Pastor and Colin became our Building and Management Director before moving into Consultancy business for himself and helping Hope City raise up entrepreneurs to facilitate the future vision. Both have become great friends. Steve now runs a successful Building company and married Siobhan who is the Executive Director for the church.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

th

5 March 1998

My old senior minister in Australia, Chris Peterson, used to frequently repeat the phrase, ʻdonʼt watch the waves, watch the tide.ʼ Itʼs a lesson that I often fail in. Last night Jenny and I were gutted by the absence of two new Christians at our mid week meeting. A few years ago, I was running past a house near where we lived and I felt God tell me that great things would happen in that house. I regularly heard piano playing coming from it and recently decided to initiate things by asking if my son, who is 6 years of age, could have lessons. After a short time the couple had given their hearts to the Lord. We have been really banking on them being a part of the new life-blood and new move of the Spirit in our Church. Somethingʼs not right. We feel like theyʼve become our friends and yet our lifestyle is so intense, itʼs really hard for us to maintain a close friendship outside of leadership. Itʼs also hard for others to understand that. Theyʼve definitely pulled back and weʼre really disappointed. Itʼs made me aware that behind a lot of my anger and cynicism at times, lays deep veins of this kind of disappointment. Jen shared her grief and disappointment with Sophia and she told Jen it was time to let go and release them from the underlying pressure of our high expectations. We feel much better. As consolation Iʼve been encouraged by the powerful help of armour bearers. (For a long


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

time now Iʼve kept things to myself and not looked for or been able to rely on much external support at all). This new show of strength has been fantastic. Iʼve also been encouraged today from the book of Zephaniah that records that God is the one who ʻrestores fortuneʼ, and Heʼs the one who is ʻexalting over me in happy song.ʼ God is about to do great things.

2009 UPDATE The leadership conflict that led to the church conflict was brought to the surface and exacerbated by the inclusion of two new people, Dave Adams and Glyn Barrett, onto our leadership team. Because of my affiliation with them and a change in the decision making centre of gravity amongst the leadership, the power struggle emerged.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

th

6 March 1998

This has been such a difficult week. In checking our Sunday School register, Iʼve noted that so many young families have abandoned the cause of late and made their final decision to leave Church. An older man came to me yesterday and said he was also leaving with his wife. I usually let go easily in the knowledge that the horse has already bolted, but I fought for him in conversation in a last ditch effort to get him to see the truth about his life and his future. It seems now like time wasted. I heard yesterday that one of our ex musicians who was taken off our music team because of immorality, was now on a war path against me claiming, amongst other things, that I was truly a manipulator (the devil knows I canʼt stand that)!

Our new Christian friends came for dinner last night and we had a great time because of the lifting of our expectations. I could tell that they felt much better as well.

Iʼm really attempting in practical ways to put the past behind and take a hold of the new green shoots of the future. I had lunch yesterday with a guy who got saved on Sunday and his fresh testimony about his eyes being opened to see the truth was real refreshment to my soul. I read 2 Timothy today and was


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

really helped by the fact that Paul had been deserted by many along the way, simply for preaching the truth. I donʼt think Iʼve ever preached the truth arrogantly or impetuously but there comes stages, and weʼve just had a big one, where people, after being continually confronted by the truth, start to protect themselves with cynicism that eventually leads to a distortion of the truth and false accusations. It helped me to know that when Paul wrote to Timothy he told him to take his share of suffering as ʻa good soldier of Jesus Christʼ, just as Paul had done. We all have a share to take. He also told Timothy to stay focused (not get involved in civilian affairs), follow the rules (of love and integrity) and work hard (not to give up.) He really stressed never to argue over unimportant things. I love 2 Timothy 2:13 – ʻEven when we are too weak to have any faith left, He remains faithful to us and will help us.ʼ Suffering seems to be an unavoidable inheritance of the godly!

Iʼve just had a great talk with Teresa who runs our prayer ministry and I feel like Iʼm back in the faith zone. She had a vision of an army and she expected to see a battle with everyone arrayed in fighting gear. Instead, they were victoriously running forward to obtain the spoils of victory. She said she saw harvesting angels not fighting angels. It hit me – we had gone through the gates. The war was won over our entry into the gates


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

of the City. All that Iʼve been encountering lately has been some sporadic shooting after the enemyʼs surrender. Itʼs time to rejoice and expect a great harvest. The enemy is mad because heʼs defeated. We shall see all that God has promised come to pass.

2009 UPDATE Hope City Church began its first 10 years as ʻThe Hope of Sheffield Christian Church.ʼ In order to be more appealing to those outside of church and to mark a fresh new era, we changed our name in 2001. Teresa and husband Brian continue to be great friends of the church and have now retired to be with family back home in the North East. Glyn and Sophia Barrett served as Associate Pastors at Hope City Church for 11 years. During this time Glyn became the Director of Youth Alive UK and launched the national youth conference Audacious. In April 2007 our Manchester Congregation was released to Glyn and Sophia for them to take on as Senior Pastors and in September 2007 the church became Audacious City Church which has become one of the fastest growing churches in the North of England.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

th

9 March 1998

Sundayʼs meetings were excellent in spirit and content. Glyn preached in the morning a brilliant message on ʻThe seasons of Godʼ and our youth worker preached a promising message on ʻThe seed and the soilʼ. Without all of the antagonists around I feel much freer in public and as a reflection of that we are having a lot more fun in the meetings.

I feel like our Church is a puppy dog with big feet – the big feet indicating our big potential. Weʼve got more depth and unity in our core team than ever before – it seems way out of proportion to the current size of the Church. I have been reading ʻThe Purpose Driven Churchʼ by Rick Warren and it reminded me of all the different levels of commitment found in healthy local churches – the crowd, the congregation, the committed and the core. Iʼve got a new idea that our Sunday night meetings could potentially become our largest meetings because theyʼre best suited to attract the crowd. I can imagine a Sunday night kidsʼ club running with 100ʼs of kids in it alongside a seeker sensitive service. Maybe we could make it a front door of the Church, and not, as we have traditionally done, simply relied upon Sunday morning. The night would be for the crowd, the morning for the congregation, our other training times for the committed, and our


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

leadersʼ nights for the core. Itʼs given me a fresh lot of food for thought.

Jenny just told me that she felt that even though the Church had, in the Spirit, moved from winter into spring, many didnʼt know how to dress accordingly. Many were acting and talking like it was still winter, with hatches battened down and survival mentality on, instead of acting and speaking like it was spring, with a great summer just around the corner. We needed to put on a ʻspring mentalityʼ with high anticipation in our conversations and high seed sowing in our preparations.

2009 UPDATE Our Sunday Night programme has developed and evolved considerably over the years. Sunday Night Live eventually led to developing an 1830s service called the Event. After a season we moved this to a Saturday Night and opened it for all ages. Currently we now run Sunday Night Live back on a Sunday evening again. One thing we have learnt over the years is to keep our programme fresh.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

th

16 March 1998

Itʼs been a good week. We had a great article in the Star – the cityʼs newspaper. It said, “Thank goodness for Dave Gilpin and his congregation!” Well – thatʼs the favour of God. It was all about our dream for our new facilities called ʻThe Megacentre.ʼ The article could well have been along the lines of ʻcult moves into new premises.ʼ Praise God. It sure feels like a new day. Iʼm still really inspired by ʻThe Purpose Driven Churchʼ and about the whole operation of a Church from the crowd to the core. I feel a fresh restructuring coming on for later in the year which I will present to my two assistants over the coming weeks.

I am still really disappointed by people who just canʼt get into the Church life and who continue to isolate themselves in hard times. Thank God for Steve – the whole of Pizza Hut know about his conversion and everyone holds a lot of respect for him. Iʼm sure that God has a great call upon his life – Iʼve already got plans!

I preached on ʻThe appointed timeʼ from the book of Habakkuk yesterday. I humorously declared the well worn spiel that the safest aeroplane to be on was the one that I was on, which reflected a new found confidence in my God given future. I


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

used the analogy that ʻthe Mercedes was already in the garageʼ – the great plans of God were already in the bag. You can miss it but you canʼt invent it. A collision with destiny is drawing closer every second, all culminating at Godʼs appointed time. I declared that inside I was sleeping in the knowledge that everything was signed, sealed and delivered but on the outside I was busy doing good to all. It was a great sermon – now all I need do is to live it. Thank you Lord for all of your plans. Help me not to lose faith over what I see today. Help me to love you even though there be ʻno fruit on the vine.ʼ I will praise you and trust you forever because you are the Father of heaven!


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

th

30 March 1998

I preached at youth on Friday night and had a fresh revelation of an old thought – weʼre not here to build a big Church but to change a big city and a big world. A big Church is too small a vision.

On Sunday the Church cheered when we heard live over the telephone that my assistant Dave and our missionsʼ team had reached the Hungarian/Romanian border. Theyʼd seen 40 decisions for Christ in the past week. Weʼre a part of it. Also on Sunday, a couple from New Zealand started a new Church in Doncaster – a town of 100,000 people. They had 65 people come to their first service. Weʼre a part of it. A couple from Kiev in the Ukraine called up today to say that each Sunday 20 people were making decisions for Christ. They said that over 550 people were attending their home groups. Weʼre a part of it. Itʼs a fresh revelation!

My Sunday message was on the ʻriverʼ from Ezekiel focusing on the place where your feet no longer touch the ground. Youʼre out of control – Heʼs in control. Itʼs the place Iʼm in. Weʼve done a lot of prayer and fasting and made a lot of plans. It just seems to be the season of praise and thanksgiving


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

and spending time in the river – all else seems to be striving. Weʼre waiting for the Lord.

Last weekend I ministered in Northern Ireland. I feel a real bond with the place. I even got a call from a young pastor in Londonderry when I got back, looking for help. I almost didnʼt go and almost missed out on this great opportunity.

2009 UPDATE Dave and Anne Adams learnt the language and moved to Hungary for a number of years based in Debrecen, Hungarys second largest city, near the Romanian border. In 2008 they returned to the UK and were released to join Glyn and Sophia at Audacious City Church where they have become part of their pastoral team. The Church in Doncaster didnʼt last and the couple are now back in New Zealand. The Church in Kiev is now the Hillsong Church and continues to grow! The Northern Ireland bond has, so far, not developed at all.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

th

11 April 1998

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and marks the end of the 7

th

year of the Church. I donʼt think anyone realises it as there is no one currently in the Church from the first Easter Sunday (except for Jenny). Itʼs a funny feeling. I feel a little like the woman who broke open the jar of expensive perfume and poured it over Jesusʼ feet. I feel like so much of what weʼve done has purely been worship unto Jesus of some of the best years of our lives. I can see how weʼve faithfully taken the baton of God and held it strong on behalf of the core of the Church and all who are a part of the next generation. I can see that God has created in us deep wells from heaven that have been produced through trial and endurance. Much of all that has happened has been foundational and underground. I have measured success externally for far too long. Our eyes are now off numerics and onto the deep work that Godʼs done in our hearts. It still really pains us to see people that weʼve invested so much time into, not rise up for the challenge and not enter into the new victories that God had in store for them.

Glyn has just left on a train to Manchester on his way to Kiev discouraged at the results heʼs been getting in the youth ministry after so much work. I can really feel for him. I know that


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

Godʼs deepening him and I figured that it takes greater faith to keep going when you donʼt see breakthrough than it does for someone who sees an earlier breakthrough. Glyn could go to Kiev with confidence that he was a man of faith and had something to say even in a ʻrevivalʼ situation. I shared that with him and it seemed to make a difference.

I read today that the committee for looking into rising cults in Europe for the European parliament have decided to place all denominations not recognised by the World Council of Churches in the cult category. We are now alongside the Church of Scientology!

Weʼre now in such a needy situation for our new building for our Church. We need thousands of pounds to move into the middle section of the Megacentre alone. Weʼre way overspent in our main account. Weʼve tried everything to balance the books and minimise expenditure. If we use up money coming in August for our training school weʼll have none to help offset our impending increased loan repayments for the basic shell of the Megacentre. Weʼre in the zone I preach on often – deep water! All of our exit doors are closed and we need a miracle. We have such little time and many people weʼve asked to help us financially are unable to assist us till a much later date (or so they


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

say). We really donʼt want to be foolish by getting work done in the Megacentre that we canʼt pay for now and yet we donʼt want the project placed on hold and lose the momentum we have. We are desperate for God to move. People often say faith is often spelt RISK and I know why. There is an underlying certainty that it will all come to pass yet much of the visual looks daunting and overwhelming. The risk is that you risk everything for the certainty that God is faithful. I took the scripture ʻbelieve that you have received it and it shall be yoursʼ to heart the other day and I really believe that God will break through. All the waiting! I so want to be an inspirational leader and I so want to see the peopleʼs faith rewarded. A week ago we received thousands of pounds worth of good quality office furniture for the centre courtesy of cast offs from Leeds City Council. That was a great start.

2009 UPDATE None of the people who said they may help ever ended up helping!


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

th

16 April 1998

Weʼve just returned from a 4 day break in Blackpool. I love holidays. God supplied our needs right down to the last pound and I was able to buy some new shoes and a new top. God has been good to us. Usually when I come back from breaks I begin to panic about the state of the Church and whatʼs happened while Iʼve been away. Today was no exception. The financial constraints that were now upon us hit me hard and the possibility of putting one of our full time workers on part time as well as cutting the wages of all the staff was now a serious possibility. I really need to take it to God. Without a major breakthrough, there will be major changes. Tonight I asked God to speak afresh to give new light and faith on our situation. We need miracles all round. I need to make some major decisions. I told Glyn that we needed a financial breakthrough and he suggested that we got all the Church to fast and pray. I told him that I felt that weʼd done all that we could and it was now in Godʼs hands. I really believe that the people now needed to see some miracles for all the sacrifices that theyʼd made.

Itʼs so hard getting a balance between faith and what looks like sound financial management. Faith never looks logical


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

or naturally attainable. We are now in a crucial period with only 10 weeks to come up with huge financial assets.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

th

5 May 1998

As I was driving home tonight from Church I felt God say to me, “Youʼre a good man.” My son had actually said the same thing only a few nights back but only in jest. I felt really touched that God should affirm me in the middle of my busyness as so often I feel guilty that my busyness is a cover for a lack of trust and a substitute for real prayer. I havenʼt had any quality personal time with God just lately and so it was amazing to hear Godʼs affirmation of me.

The biggest thing Iʼve done this week is to outline the new plans and redefine vision of our Church for the near future. Itʼs been hard going as it means a total paradigm shift in the workings of the Church as well as a shifting role for Glyn. At night, after sharing my plans to the core leaders, I turned to Ezekiel 43 which describes the temple design including a description of all the entrances and exits. We had talked about entrances and exits in our meeting. Iʼm amazed again. Often as a leader you feel like itʼs you alone, with either everyone way behind you or very against you. God has shown me that Heʼs right there with me, believing the new plans and giving me confidence to ʻsell itʼ to my team and through them, convince everyone else that itʼs the way to go. I am really aware of the


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

evolutionary nature of change and have given the next 3 months to the seepage of the vision. Iʼll then present our new programme, changes to our personnel, our need for provisions and lastly our new performance targets to a much wider audience. I am acutely aware, though, that in everything the greatest power of a Church lies in its heart and spirit. The buzz factor is more important than all of the ʻPʼ words Iʼve just listed!

The company that were to take the lease off us for our existing Church building has pulled out. Weʼve leased the warehouse for 3 years and have 1 year to go. We are now paying hefty amounts towards the mortgage repayments of our Megacentre facility. Weʼre about to move into our 1

st

stage of

phase one renovations of our new centre and the company pulling out on the lease is certainly a set back. At times life feels like one of those computer screens that have mountains that donʼt gradually grow from the horizon but suddenly come into view from the left side of the screen. Faith remains the land in which we live and breathe. Thereʼs no other way we can do this!

In spirit I feel much stronger than a few months ago. I love to see people grow strong in God. I also love to share Jesus to people who are open and this has been a great week for it. My two assistants are really catching the vision and I feel confident


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

about our future. I also feel really good about cancelling last Sunday nightĘźs service and sending everyone to Doncaster to help in the new Church plant. It was a great night.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

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15 May 1998

Weʼve just completed our second national ʻAliveʼ conference that I host with two other ministers and their churches. It was a great success, but I think the greatest success is what Godʼs done in my heart. Our Church is the same size this year as it was last year. Danny Guglielmucci from a highly successful Church in Adelaide, who came last year and was one of this yearsʼ conference speakers, must have noticed it. My awareness of what he was probably thinking, however, didnʼt affect me deep down in my soul. In fact I felt God tell me that Heʼs made me of ʻno reputationʼ which was strangely a good feeling. I think Dannyʼs return trip to our Church was my mirror to show me how strongly Iʼve developed on the inside in this past year. Thank God for the security that Heʼs developing within me. Itʼs a great work that Godʼs doing.

Today I received news that another large charity would not be supporting us financially in our new venture. I had a prophecy from some guy who saw a large cheque book open up for me with the scripture ʻask and ye shall receive.ʼ After he shared it I began to cry as I caught the revelation that God has seen our endurance and hard work. Because this guy knew nothing of our situation it was a real sign that God was with us.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

IĘźve always found it hard to correct leaders around me and at the same time be encouraging to them. I also find it especially difficult with older men. I have never had older men around me while growing up and my relationship with my dad was always quite distant. I feel great today though, because I was able to correct an older member of my team about his wrong attitudes and at the same time create a closer bond with him. God has definitely granted me a new ability!

2009 Update The Alive Conference continued to be part of our annual calendar until 2001. After a few years absence we launched a brand new conference in 2005 called Fabulous which has become an exciting weekend each year for our church to gather together in celebration and see God move. Danny Gugglielmucci has remained a strong friend of Hope City Church.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

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30 June 1998

Itʼs been a month now since we moved into the Megacentre. I felt challenged to sow our first Sundayʼs offering directly to our new local community. I ran it past my oversight because it would mean that we would be giving away next weekʼs wages. They all agreed! The offering came to one of the largest weʼd ever had … and we were giving it away! A week later we had our opening night and the previous owner of the building, who is one of the directors of Sheffield United, was present with his wife. Our last encounter had been a difficult one, firstly because of recent complications with the payment of VAT and secondly because we brought him down from a potential 10 year lease on the building of £1.4 million, to purchasing the entire property for £200,000. I was surprised to see him at the opening. Everyone knew who he was and the night must have made a big impression on him. He came into my office at the end of the service, got his cheque book out, and wrote a cheque for £1000. That was both a miracle and a return of around half of the money that we had just sown into our local community.

Weʼre still paying rent on our old building as well as paying the mortgage on our new building. It continues to be a stretching time. We have made a decision, however, not to


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

reduce any of the staff wages this coming September but to actually increase them. It can only be accomplished by supernatural intervention. We have also decided to use £20,000 that we had designated for heating and spend it on the first stage of our indoor childrenʼs centre. We still have 3 months until the cold weather is upon us and so weʼve taken a giant leap of faith believing for money for the heating equipment before the weather turns.

The whole team has worked so well in this time of great pressure. Iʼm amazed at the unity, the faith and the respect thatʼs emerged over the last few months. Personally Iʼm not used to such great respect and authority. For years, whenever I corrected someone, mayhem and fall out would always result. Weʼre in the midst of incredible change which includes our location, our Church structure and even our style of service, yet everyone is working so well. I think change has become part of our value system rather than a thorn in our side.

Today Iʼm flying to Australia with a minister from one of Sheffieldʼs more established churches to attend the Hillsong Conference. It feels odd leaving the Church for two weeks at a crucial time, but I think it may be Godʼs plan to de-stress me. I get obsessively focused! Iʼve got to allow the ʻseeds of faithʼ to


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

grow without getting hung up at the ʻbrown dirtʼ I see every day. Also, Iʼve got to allow others in leadership to take the reigns on many of the things that Iʼve initiated.

Two Sundays ago I was wearing one of the 2 suits that I own. I remember consciously thinking to myself how much I loved the suit I was in (and how great it looked on me), and immediately felt the Holy Spirit encourage me to give it away to Glyn. That happened at the end of the Sunday morning meeting. At the same time, Glyn and Sophia had felt impressed to give away the money that theyʼd saved for a suit and place it in the Sunday morning offering. (They had a serious argument after the service because theyʼd agreed to give away half the money and yet Sophia gave away all of the money!) At night I came up to Glyn and asked him if heʼd like my suit and promptly handed it to him. It was a great moment. It was one of those great miraculous moments that Iʼll remember for a long time. Jenny and I also emptied our bank account and gave all we had away. We really believe that God wants to increase us financially so we can both enjoy some special things and become bigger channels of blessings to others. I really want to bless Jenny for all her sacrifice by building a deck off the back of our house so she can lie out in the sun (which she almost worships) in solitude and comfort. She loves the sun and getting as much of it as possible


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

has been an art form for her while living in England. Itʼs been funny coming from a sunny nation, to find every second car in the UK with a sun roof. I can understand it now. Life in England has always been easier for me than Jenny, not only because I donʼt miss the hot weather, but also because of her almost overwhelming sense of isolation thatʼs not been helped by her mum being 10,000 miles away.

2009 UPDATE The playcentre was completed and has since been refurbished to become Megarelax and Megakidz, a combination of a quality coffee house and playcentre allowing parents to relax in comfortable surroundings whilst their kids play.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

th

26 July 1998

I seem to have found faith in our financial crisis at the Megacentre. Our needs are great but I have a real peace about it. Yesterday, a man from the TSB bank phoned saying that heʼd like to come and look at the centre. I think heʼs going to give us money. By faith we enter into grace!

The Australian trip was a brilliant trip and the Hillsong Conference was a magnificent conference. Last time I went I flew in and flew out within a week and I felt God tell me not to do that again. I think that at that time I was submitting to a feeling that I had nothing really to give to the churches in Australia, so there was no need to stay for a weekendʼs ministry. God so wants me to believe in me! This time I preached in Sydney and in Brisbane. I preached great.

Church went great today. Our team from Poland came back and half of our Australian youth team was back as well. There seems to be an undercurrent of new people and a great sense of the presence of God. The one thing which has saddened us lately is the absence of our two new Christian friends. They havenʼt been for 3 weekends and we feel like weʼre losing them. Weʼve tried to disciple them and help them (and


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

befriend them) but I donʼt know if theyʼre ready to change their lifestyle. Iʼm not going to dwell on it. Iʼm going to see it as a ʻprodigalʼ moment in their Christian walk. The game is only half over! It must be so hard when teenagers drift away from the Lord after their parents have spent years bringing them up in the ways of God.

Iʼm going to make this coming Church year (starting September) a Sabbath year. I need an easier, less pressured year just to get rid of an underlying state of exhaustion. I think Godʼs

talking

to

me

about

delegating,

partnering

and

empowering. Iʼve spent so many days and months directing the ship and giving vision on so many angles. Itʼs time to let the garden grow and let the team flourish. Itʼs going to be a challenge to simply assist and build relationship with people and not just lead them. Iʼve really got to beat the feelings of being lazy and the pressure of condemnation. Iʼm a bit driven at times and a lot of it comes from the desire to inspire the staff and leaders to go faster and further. Iʼd like to get into a new daily routine that starts with exercise and prayer and then come into Church during the week at around 10am. Itʼs going to be difficult to put aside the thought that people may think Iʼm being lazy but I know that if Iʼm going to rise to new heights, I have to look after


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

my body, my relationship with Jen and Ryan, as well as my own wellbeing. Here goes!


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

th

25 August 1998

Last night I had a terrible sleep. My body was exhausted, yet my adrenalin was pumping late into the night. I feel disorientated today and really tired. Iʼve decided to work from home.

We started our childrenʼs centre (stage 1) 2 days ago and I think that itʼs affected me. I donʼt think that itʼs the immediate pressure thatʼs pushed me over, but an accumulation of pressure thatʼs making me lose energy really quickly. Itʼs a bit like a soldier whoʼs been on the front line for too long. A holiday is in order.

Yesterday we depleted all our Church bank account and borrowed some money internally in a personal arrangement with a congregation member. Between late yesterday and this morning we got news of around £8000 being sent to us from various trusts. We have also had a miracle with a heating system! We have taken up an offer of a second hand one that could possibly do our entire building for a really knockdown price! Itʼs currently in another building and weʼve managed to get all the radiators out and now need some demolition work to get the two massive boilers out. Thereʼs only 5 weeks until the cold sets in.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

We still need a lot of money (on top of the personal loan) to get the heating system all set up.

I donʼt think a day goes past without some kind of dramatic news. Itʼs as if we are in a prolonged transition time that never seems to settle back to some kind of normality. Maybe this is the new ʻnormalʼ.

Iʼm concerned with myself because I get little adrenalin attacks that then get a little worse when I think that they might be little panic attacks. Iʼve had some spells when Iʼve just felt distant – strangely distant. Iʼve stayed home today just to avoid any undue pressure. Because of the way Iʼm wired, I use up a lot of energy just talking to people and need a lot of space in between appointments (which I just donʼt get). I get easily uptight about such small things. Yesterday I was almost possessed by the background music we put on in the entrance foyer of the Megacentre. Iʼve got a fetish for background music and get so consumed about it being at the right level to create a bright and buoyant atmosphere. Iʼve got to pull back from details and get some relief! Glyn just called and said that I need an outside interest!! Itʼs true – Iʼd love to go and see the Bee Gees at Wembley Stadium next Saturday night. If I donʼt get some


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

miracle tickets real soon, IĘźm going to order some at the box office!

2009 Update Glyn was right. In 2007 I started painting under the pseudo-name of Dagarte. It was a great way to release creativity and spend time and I also was able to sell some of the paintings!!


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

rd

3 September 1998

I spent a lot of time on the weekend crying out for a breakthrough. I had a long time of worship, and really prayed for a recovery emotionally, physically and spiritually. Now, four days on, Iʼm amazed. I feel great. The stress has gone and I went to a prayer meeting and felt really lifted. Thatʼs a story in itself because for at least 9 months, I have felt a bit repelled by prayer meetings. I think Iʼve felt exhausted praying for things that I had prayed for hundreds of times before. I was amazed at how refreshing it was to again be interceding for the kingdom of God outside of my own personal times with God. I know God has done a miracle in me. Iʼm committed to a new lifestyle of exercise, devotions and getting into Church later to help me stay sane. I think itʼs working – I feel fresher and friendlier!!

We opened our Megakids and Megabites fun centre almost 2 weeks ago and itʼs starting to be a real winner. It gives me great satisfaction to see the Church rising up in a way that it both blesses the local community as well as equips the saints. Weʼve organised the Church programme and vision into 5 zones that help lead people along what weʼve called the ʻjourney of discoveryʼ. Somebody becomes a part of our community zone activities, then moves into discovery zone activities, gets saved


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

and moves into our foundation zone and then into the programmes of the growth and equippers zone. I love the concept. The community centre should only be the tip of the iceberg of whatʼs really going on in the life of the Church. Iʼm also excited because the vision unites the community centre with everything else the Church does, so you donʼt get left with – community centre and the Church. Itʼs all Church. The Church in action. For the first time in the history of the Church (7 years) I can stand back and get a real sense of satisfaction that weʼve got our direction right and weʼve got a brilliant team (out of 250 people, 23 are working either part time, full time, voluntary or on an internship) and weʼve got that indispensable and generally unpreached about quality called ʻmomentumʼ beginning to rise up creating within us an unstoppable feeling.

2009 Update Megabites was refurbishments.

renamed

Megarelax

during

the

latest


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

th

4 September 1998

Somebody has shouted me a ticket to see the Bee Gees at Wembley Stadium tomorrow night. God is good.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

th

17 October 1998

Personally,

in

recent

months,

Iʼve

been

secretly

entertaining loads of bad thoughts, and, worse still, it has been really hard to accompany these thoughts with any sense of anger and real repentance. I have been really praying for greater passion for God and that seems to be a key thatʼs started to lift me back off the plains of compromise and into a new disciplined regime. God took Abraham away from Lot and led him onto higher ground. My vision and my values are definitely starting to sharpen again through prayer. It seems that the only place for any soldier of God is on the front line – always battling for more of God, for more souls saved and for more hearts changed. Davidʼs problem wasnʼt adultery, it was being off the battle front. God – stir up my passion for you.

Weʼve started up all of our Church programmes but some of them have very little takers. We desperately need a greater hunger for the things of God.

God has given me some powerful opportunities lately. I preached in Kiev to leaders of churches across the Ukraine and then preached to the up - and - coming Youth Alive leadership in the UK. Itʼs been quite an amazing opportunity. I have no big


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

natural desire to speak around the place and yet God has opened doors. I really believe that Iʼve got something to say now – not because Iʼve seen the heavens split open but because Iʼve simply maintained faith in the midst of the battle. Mike Breen from St Thomasʼ Church in Sheffield prayed for me in passing the other week, “Thanks for the lion and the bear – now take him to slay his Goliath.” Iʼve really taken that to heart, knowing that so far itʼs been lions and bears, but I was born for Goliaths. It would be easy to settle for a nice Church and a good programme but my Goliath awaits, hopefully resulting in an avalanche of souls saved and lives impacted. Iʼm running again to the battle.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

th

20 November 1998

Instead of using the popular daily devotional by UCB, Iʼve been re-reading the ʻDay by Dayʼ devotional by Charles Spurgeon. It is so good, and his perspective on the Christian life has helped bring about a fresh revelation within me. I feel like thereʼs a new well been opened up in my heart. My faith has not just been focused on events and targets but on a softening of my heart and a greater love for the people I minister to. Iʼve become less black and white and now have included some shades of pastel! Itʼs a new me!! Iʼve been praying again over my obsessive nature. I find it so hard going into our café because of its high degree of disorganisation. One thing that really gets to me is the wobbling tables. Why doesnʼt anyone else see it or care?!! Iʼm praying for an acceptance of things not being ʻquite rightʼ.

Our two new Christian friends (who were married) have split up. Jenny has had such a strength through it all and Iʼve been amazed at a new spirit of endurance and fortitude sheʼs been showing (I donʼt think Jenʼs been this strong since our Brisbane days.) Itʼs a real work of God in her spirit.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

A friend has just told me that his Church is on a current growth curve! Itʼs fantastic. Iʼm on a growth curve (on the inside) and I thank God for releasing me into thinking this way!

2009 Update Wobbly tables still annoy me!


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

st

1 December 1998

Itʼs been an amazing week for the City. The leaders of many of the charismatic churches across the City came together for a retreat and the entire leadership of the All Saints network has stepped down to make way for a new move of the Spirit. Also, for one of the first times in our inter-church gathering, I had some significant things to say! I find that amazing and incredible.

Our Church really has been recovering numerically since we moved into the Megacentre. Itʼs slow, but the numbers in through the front door have been a little more than those going out through the back door. The Church now has almost as many people attending as it did at the time leading up to our 1996 crisis (two and a half years ago.) We lost so many people around that time – well over 100 people, including many of our young families. Itʼs a landmark in the life of our Church but Iʼm convinced that when God restores, He doesnʼt just give back what the enemy takes away, He gives back in increased measure and quality so that the glory of the latter temple is bigger, brighter and greater than ever before. This time the ceilingʼs removed – the skyʼs the limit.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

We had a whole night of prayer recently and around 40 people stayed right through the night. It was a fantastic time and really prophetic. Iʼm feeling like God is renewing my battery and giving me a whole new lease of life. Itʼs incredible because it was only 3 months or so ago that I felt exhausted on the inside and entertaining wild thoughts of pulling back for a year. I know itʼs God – Iʼve a new lease of life on every part of our vision and feel wide awake to pursue the things of God. Itʼs really surprised me and I know that it is a rise of faith that hopefully will result in souls saved and lives changed.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

th

29 December 1998

I had the best Christmas present on Christmas morning. Just after our service, a guy called Nick came up to me and said that he lived locally and got saved 6 weeks ago over the telephone with a friend from London. He was so hot for God – a real transformation – it was brilliant. Tony, whoʼs been saved 3 months, said that he was offered a job in another city with a free house but turned it down, saying that he couldnʼt leave the Church! After refusing to leave, his boss did a turnabout and offered him £1000 to get his licence so he could be used further in his business. That made my Christmas. Recently, a guy whoʼs a financial advisor talked to me about his own financial crisis. He said that many times he felt like committing suicide. I gave him good counsel. Iʼve just found out that heʼs had a massive personal breakthrough and he has also been given some money to pay off all his debts! Itʼs one of the best turn arounds Iʼve seen in ages. Itʼs made for a great Christmas season. Iʼm hoping that itʼs the beginning of a summer season at the Hope – the early signs of a Sheffield revival!

Iʼm really pleased that brand new ideas are arising within me. Iʼve been thinking of launching a new Church in Manchester soon. I like that idea. In fact, Iʼm really buzzing on the inside


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

about it. My assistant Dave and his wife Anne are ablaze for Europe. Regional church planting is the missing part of the overall picture. I need to see the Church strengthened more, though, before we expand, but Iʼm sure that it will happen. I need to ask Gerard what he thinks. Weʼve had 4 shots at church planting with only 2 sticking. Weʼve learnt a lot! Instead of pulling back, we now need to go out again – this time for success. I love my new attitude.

Iʼm feeling great going into the new season. The Church is growing again and Iʼve got some really good friends! Iʼm relaxed and all the leaders are growing roots and leaves! I thank God for the turnaround from our ʻbaptism of fire.ʼ Weʼve regained the ground lost and, just as a broken bone heals stronger, thereʼs a great sense of strength in the Church. We still have many challenges in the areas of souls and finance, but thereʼs a hefty weight of faith that shall see us through.

Iʼve got so much out of my quiet time book by Charles Spurgeon this year. He never ceases to help me in his depth of counsel and insight. In fact, itʼs great to get a more ʻsovereignʼ insight on things because Iʼm such a proactive person. Spurgeon seems to give me a great sense of relief through a greater sense of Godʼs providence. ʻItʼs down to youʼ type encouragement is


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

great for people who lack motivation, but that is not one of my primary weaknesses (the opposite is more the truth of it.)

2009 UPDATE Nick is now married to Caroline and they have two beautiful children. They are still great members of our Sheffield congregation. Tony has since left the Church.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

st

1 February 1999

The health of our Church is so good right now. The services are filled with life and expectancy and my team is in a great spirit. Iʼve definitely had a second wind. I feel sharpened and renewed – as if Godʼs put a fresh river in me thatʼs doing both me and everyone else a lot of good.

Itʼs amazing some of the changes that have happened lately. Iʼve been selected to help lead the Ministersʼ Network. We had our first early morning meeting at the Holiday Inn with around 30 pastors present. It was excellent. I really feel like I have been anointed to help steer the group into greater faith than ever before. Iʼm also going to be speaking at a session at the AOG National Conference this year which again is a great opportunity to share vision and faith.

I was so disappointed to hear that Gerard wasnʼt going to speak for us on his Sunday in England. Iʼve also been so sad about our 18 year olds about to go to university in other cities – this Sunday I released them publicly to God and to our vision to take the nations. I felt better after doing that.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

I feel much softer now as a leader than ever before. I feel like Iʼm more surrounded by faithfulness than ever before. I can honestly say that I affectionately love the people I serve much more than ever. For the first time ever, I feel comfortable in leadership.

I preached at a small Church last night and was so impressed with my love for the people there. It surely is a work of God. The Church was badly led and the building was in a state of dereliction, but I bypassed all of what I saw and simply ministered to the heart of the people. That is such a transformation! Iʼm more confident in being me and Iʼm really enjoying myself. Itʼs as if Iʼve just kept on doing the right things with the right attitude, and now a new river has been released in me.

Last week our heating system at home broke down again and I called the 2 guys again who installed our central heating. They were both in Church on Sunday morning!!! Amazing!


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

2009 UPDATE Gerard Keehan, who pioneered Hillsong Church in London, has become a great friend and ʻfatherʼ to our Church. He is currently Pastor of Sunset Coast Christian Life Centre in Perth, Western Australia seeing incredible growth. Out of the four of us selected to help steer the new flow in the ministries network, two have fallen morally and only one of the two has come back into full recovery. After great thought and discussion we decided in 2008 to leave the Assemblies of God in Great Britain and become independent. I wrote an article on my blog site to explain the reasons behind this.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

st

1 March 1999

Iʼve had a revelation about Godʼs affection and love for me that has been awesome. Iʼm really beginning to understand Godʼs heart for us to succeed and His heart to rid us of sinful habits. Iʼm starting to understand Godʼs immense affection towards me and His incredible delight over those who choose to follow Him. I donʼt want this revelation ever to depart! It really enables me to love myself so much more and to love others a lot more as well.

Looking back, it seems that we spent a lot of our time from halfway through 1996 to halfway through 1998 training and consolidating all the new, upcoming leadership of our Church. Many are a lot younger than many of those who left in our season of crisis. Halfway through last year we planted our new leadership (our new personnel for the new programme) into the new fields of ministry. So many are just starting to see buds of life. I feel so happy leading such a talented and gifted team of leaders. Behind each leader are some fantastically dedicated teams. These are good days in the life of the Church. The Church is growing slowly but surely, and Iʼm continuing to grow in depth and anointing.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

I was amazed at my renewed heart for this City. I was reading this morning Zechariahʼs prophesies about the renewal of Jerusalem – kids playing freely on the streets, the over 70ʼs all revelling in new found safety… I realised afresh Godʼs plans for this great city – to release freedom, life and safety and to bring prosperity both to the soul and to the streets. I feel a new authority on me to speak into the life of leaders in the city and the nation. Iʼm staggered as I have always seen myself as a second in charge when it comes to anything wider than our local Church.

We recently had a financial report completed by Anne, my financial assistant. For the first time, I think, in the history of the Church, we hit our monthly target without any exceptional offerings. Miracles do happen! In fact, with the inclusion of some extra funding we have received, we have potentially paid off every bill that is owed (outside our mortgage and the personal loan.) Iʼm astonished! Especially since itʼs come to pass at the beginning of the New Year, which is usually a time of tightening the belt after the Christmas season. We have a huge budget and have always stretched ourselves beyond our ability. It has caused many stresses and strains and this all comes as a welcome break. I am now really challenged to put the wages up for the staff and raise the bar on our budget forecast!! We need


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

to bless our core workers more. Everyone has sacrificed so much.

Iʼve been keeping this journal of ʻThe Sheffield Revivalʼ for just over a year now. We still havenʼt seen the ʻRevivalʼ yet but itʼs in our hearts and itʼs in our speech. Weʼre not over desperate for it, knowing that great oaks start with small acorns. We have made a commitment to walk by faith and at the weakest times weʼve declared our strengths. I remember on the fourth Sunday at the start of the Church, with only about 12 people present, declaring ʻHopeʼ to be an Antioch Church influencing nations. Weʼll continue to do it. Iʼm dedicated to declaration. So much foundation is in place – so many leaders are in their right position. Zechariah says that God rejoices to see the ʻplumb line in the hands of Zerubbabelʼ – in other words – the right leadership in place at the right time. I declared yesterday to the congregation that you wonʼt find the Hope at the Megacentre in 10 years time! Youʼll find a community centre and the Church in the community, but our Sunday meetings will be too big to fit our new downstairs auditorium. I think theyʼre getting used to big talking! I refuse to be tempered by past and current failure to come up with high results. Goals are important, but I know that our future lies in the spirit of faith rather than the attainment of current goals. Weʼre still believing for great breakthrough but we


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

can smell the fresh breeze that hopefully will lead to a cyclone of Godʼs power and purposes.

2009 Update I wasnʼt far wrong about the auditorium being too small in 10 years time. Due to not being in a position to purchase or build a larger auditorium yet we decided to expand our current space at the end of 2008. This meant knocking a huge wall out and creating a 900 seater auditorium where originally we could fit only 700. Plans are slowly coming together for us to build a Megaplex that would seat over 1500 people.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

th

9 April 1999

Iʼm in the middle of a 9 day fast. God has really spoken to me regarding a sense that Iʼm moving into a new season with God. Iʼve just had around 3 months of incredible intimacy and coming to tears almost every time I spent time with Him. One of the City ministers said that I need to ʻpioneer a course to a new watering holeʼ, which got me thinking that maybe my current season of revelation was coming to an end. I read the story of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. It said that when they came to the bottom of the mountain there was a large crowd waiting for them. God spoke to me and said that you canʼt continually live on the mountain top. Thereʼs a crowd waiting to be ministered to and a generation ready to be reached. It gave me impetus to start to fast again and seek a greater anointing to impact the harvest. His purpose for me now is to minister horizontally after a great season of being ministered to vertically! I cried the other night when I felt His presence was not the same as it had so strongly been for months. I didnʼt want it to go and felt really upset. Just to know his immediate affection and concern for a long period was a real taste of heaven. Itʼs as if God has purposefully pushed me back out into the harvest field. Thereʼs a call to take up Godʼs authority in prayer and rise up and possess the land. Why canʼt God bring revival to Sheffield?


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

God is beginning to speak to me about my leadership style. I have a hand in everything and need to learn to do things through my leaders and not go behind them. Secondly, I need to keep things vision based and not job based. I see the ideal and probably put too much emphasis upon my ideas and my standards of excellence. I need to give them time to let the garden grow and not check out the roots so often. IĘźve been in town today and picked up some picture frames to buy as presents for people at Church. I then felt to put them down. This was a job for delegation. Father, help me also to be good at delegating!


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

th

16 May 1999

After tucking myself away for the past 3 years, Mal Fletcher of ʻNext Wave Internationalʼ prophesied a re-expansion of myself into the heart of mission. He said that it was a key to my Churchʼs strength and future and heʼs invited me to a leadership summit in Oslo, Norway. Someone prophesied that as I gave out from the Church, God would give back to it.

Thereʼs a new confidence and a new level of anointing on me as Iʼve been ministering out from our Church. I used to hate preaching in other places – I seem, now, to have a mandate to lift peopleʼs hope and expectancy to new levels and I have a number of messages that help do that. I have enjoyed ministry lately!!

On a really personal note, I have found myself wrestling with temptations, especially with lust of the eyes. Itʼs a growing concern. I have prayed about it. That same person, who prophesied over me regarding God blessing our Church as I ministered, also warned me not to do anything that dissolves or removes the anointing of Godʼs Spirit. Then they looked at me in the eyes and said “Do you know what I mean?” Amazing. Itʼs broken the back of my problem. In fact, I feel clean, free and


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

fearful of God. Anything that may feed the flesh, Iʼm running from. Itʼs as if a stronghold has been broken. I know that God has rescued me from a slippery path leading to destruction. I thank my Lord so much for His commitment and care towards my life. I can really understand how people (and ministers) fall into immorality - even those with good marriages. I can now really understand what a dirty and dark world people live in, who are trapped by the devilʼs temptations. I want to run from the plains of compromise – I want to be holy for all my living years. God – help it be so.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

th

27 July 1999

“The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.” Iʼve just come back from taking a team of ministers to Hillsong Conference in Australia. Iʼve got a new lifestyle with good exercise and good time with the Lord. Iʼm re-learning to appreciate the ʻpleasant placesʼ Iʼve inherited. Iʼm also trying to learn the balance between ʻactivityʼ and ʻsleepingʼ. While the storm was on Jesus slept in the boat such was His confidence in arriving at the declared destination. I want to know when to fight and when to sleep. I felt, as I came back from Australia, that God said to me ʻkeep sleeping – donʼt be alarmed by what you see – stay in the faith that Iʼve given to you.ʼ Iʼve learned that itʼs not the truth that sets you free but the knowledge of the truth. Iʼm trying to read the word more – get more revelation and therefore more faith and therefore more freedom in all I am and do.

We had a great Sunday of baptising 14 people. In the past 3 months, weʼve baptised over 35 people. One lady got saved through phoning the wrong number. Instead of calling a helpline she rang one of our girls called Sarah. She got saved and then her daughter got saved!!! One lady got saved watching the God Channel. These are exciting days.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

Iʼve had a lot of attacks from a small group of people who seem to have lost their heart for the mission at hand. I guess itʼs par for the course. Financially weʼre at rock bottom again both personally and in the Church. Iʼm aware that our own personal finance and the Church finances follow an uncannily similar path. We were gearing up to pioneer a Church in Manchester but were advised by one of the leaders of Hillsong Church to delay the expansion until our Church comes into greater strength. Our submission to his advice has made me feel like a stronger leader and has been a good example to the leaders around me. It certainly has challenged any spirit of independence and rebellion inside me. Manchester does represent, however, a new vibrant spirit that is no longer once bitten, twice shy. We have failed twice at Church planting and it represented the spirit that says weʼre going to put the past behind and claim our God given inheritance.

Jenny has had an amazing response from women right across the nation in her desire to establish a new womenʼs movement. Sheʼs put on some great events, and momentum is beginning to really kick in. Sheʼs so excited and Iʼm excited by the enthusiasm and the consistency that sheʼs developed. Sheʼs beaten a lot of disappointments and now is rising up into a great new era in her life.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

David and Marie Cartledge from Australia came and prophesied that we would convert many buildings across the City. IĘźd never thought of that!!! They prophesied a revolution in the finances of the centre but said that we had to fight for it.

2009 Update We did delay the pioneering of our Manchester Congregation and eventually launched in October 2002 when the timing was right. Since then we have launched congregations in Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle and most recently in Birmingham. Our vision is to have 10 congregations of Hope City by 2012 which includes one in Europe and one in Africa. In 2010 we will move a step closer to this vision when we launch our African congregation in the capital city of Ghana, Accra.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

th

10 November 1999

The last 3 weeks in Church have been exceptional. A number of times, weʼve had over 400 people in the building including around 70 children coming from the local estate. (Itʼs a sign of things to come.) The whole team have had an excellent spirit. There have been people from all over the place coming in. Itʼs an amazing time seeing our middle level auditorium getting packed out. I really believe that this is a tide and not a wave. The momentum has increased and the effects are demonstrative. Itʼs been great to see the student ministry that has had very little going on for years (and almost killed the leaders) suddenly come to life. The teenage ministry has also suddenly come to life. Our local inner city outreach to children is extraordinary. The worship is coming to life as well – many of our leaders who have been through hard times are now experiencing fruit. Lord, itʼs fantastic!

Iʼve had 3 incidents lately of manifest opposition. It would seem that as a Church grows a number of things happen. Firstly, those who had influence in the smaller gathering are no longer influential in the larger gathering. Secondly, those with other agendas (or who want to get noticed) know that there is now no chance of having their agenda recognised. Thirdly, there is a manifestation of greater authority around and anyone holding the


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

spirit of rebellion is shown up for whom they really are. Motivations are exposed. There are some women who have been prophesied a revival amongst inner city children but have failed to jump on board in response to our cries for help with our inner city evangelism amongst the kids. They could help, but within them is a definite spirit of elitism. Their agenda is their own ministry rather than the setting free of a new generation of people. I really believe that someoneĘźs temperature for evangelism is the true climate of their heart for God. IĘźm quite annoyed with them. Many people love ministry, but are not committed to the people they ought to love. In my conversations with ministers who have fallen morally, many have expressed their desire to want to resume ministry again. What they mean by ministry is often the ministry of preaching. I hear their heart, yet the opportunity to minister actually never left them. The pulpit closed but their chance to share, admonish, lift, encourage and pray never closed.

A senior leader recently said to me that Christian living is always between crisis and blessing. They both happen concurrently and great leadership is the ability to live comfortably between the 2 extremes. I hate the crisis of opposition but I realise that God raises up the blacksmith (Isaiah 55:16) in order


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

to sharpen, refine and give greater godliness to my life so He can use me more effectively than ever before.

God has been so good to us. It feels like the Church has grown so much since we moved into the Megacentre only a year and a half ago. My desire still lies with souls getting saved and remaining saved – growing stronger in God.

On the horizon, there is a possible opportunity to partnership with Dixons in the building of our new auditorium downstairs which should provide the space for up to 700 people. There is also the possibility of partnering with Sheffield City Council with the other half of downstairs in creating a ʻMega Gymʼ for the Sheffield Gymnastics Society. If the 2 come off – it will be brilliant. We still need money to complete the middle floor and weʼve given away 2 seed offerings to show the Lord that our trust is in Him and not in us. Weʼre in faith land and I think that thatʼs where weʼll stay for the rest of our lives – even after we get what weʼre believing for!!! Weʼll always go from faith to victory and straight back to faith again as we continually push the envelope.

Our new Christian friends have deserted us totally now. It has come out that their marriage has been torn apart by a secret


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

affair that had been going on for some time! Both of them have let go of God and gone back to the world. Itʼs a relief for Jen in that she was continually having to carry the whole situation. It has really disappointed me and there have been some others weʼve put a lot of time into who have also deserted the cause of Christ. Itʼs so difficult seeing people come and go so frequently. We need massive momentum and revelation to change the roots of our deceptive society. My plumber friend, who started to attend Church with his mate, has also disappeared after being challenged with the gospel. I must continue to believe that the harvest is now, even in the midst of seeing people close to me turning away from the gospel.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

2

nd

December 1999

Ryan has weighed so heavily upon my heart this week. The teachers claim that he has got Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). We saw a show on Channel 4 called ʻKid in the Cornerʼ which highlighted a kid with an extreme attention disorder. It magnified our concerns as Ryan displays many of the same behavioural characteristics as the child on TV (only milder.) I expressed my concerns to a minister in Sheffield whose kids have had physical problems since birth and asked him to pray for the situation. Ever since our Church musical Ryan has been a little ʻout thereʼ – partly unable to control his behaviour. Itʼs not only discipline that Ryan needs – he needs Godʼs help. It has really been a tough week – I love my boy so much. I need more patience, more wisdom and more anointing in it all.

Jenny and I are having a week on our own. Iʼm missing RYAN ALREADY!! I really need to include Ryan further in my expectation of Godʼs inheritance for my life. Itʼs Godʼs will that wholeness and happiness comes into my boysʼ life.

I can feel withdrawals already with regards to two Sundays absent from Church. I know that God wants to cleanse me of any striving. A little ʻdeath of a dreamʼ test is going on. We


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

had around a 140 children in Church last Sunday morning – God is blessing our work with kids in a fantastic way. I have an amazing childrenʼs director and a fantastic team. Our high schoolsʼ work is starting to take off – teenagers are just beginning to come to the centre from the nearby school. Our bus ministry is running at full speed. Weʼre in a great season of going into the highways and byways! Men are beginning to come from the YMCA residential centre and many students are starting to come. Itʼs the beginnings of our dreams coming true.

2009 UPDATE We really prayed about Ryan and saw a dramatic change where he re-directed his non-attention to super attention. His school took note of a great change and we gave glory to God. Ryan is now 18 and has grown into a great young man of God. Heʼs not got ADD, he has ADA: Attention Deficiency Asset. Heʼs using all of his excess energies into loads of positive things. He is now the Creative Arts Director overseeing the worship and arts of all our congregations. He leads worship every week in Sheffield and wrote most of the songs on our debut album Devoted as well as producing two instrumental devotional albums. All three albums were picked up this year by Integrity and published. Ryan even presented Blue Peter on the BBC!


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

th

14 January 2000 st

Itʼs the 21 century. Iʼm sitting in the Novotel Hotel preparing my message for Sunday. It takes me so long to get inspired. I go through so much agony in preaching. Iʼm called to preach but itʼs not something which comes easy. I find it so hard to churn out messages (like some do) and really admire those who can just get up and talk so easily and freely. For me, sermon preparation is like pulling teeth!

The wave that we recently saw in Church growth has now retracted again. I really dislike waves. Nevertheless, I have a renewed fire and passion to kick the year into touch with some fervent prayer and some regular fasting. Straight when the New Year turned, I felt a renewed determination to pray and to go public in declaring Godʼs promise all over again to the congregation. I want to see many more people come in than go out; I want to see devotion and dedication like never before. Iʼm declaring “This is my year.” Iʼm back into battle after having such a massive revelation in 1998 of Godʼs favour and calling towards my life.

Because of the turbulent nature of the demand on our resources, we still have been unable to adequately set up a full


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

budget forecast for all of our operations. We spend all we get and being far out of our depth, a complete budget would be almost purely academic. We canʼt continue like this. Our underlying financial situation is constantly in the red (yet we have never gone under.) We are being sustained by God, but itʼs more wilderness living than Canaan living. Despite of all of this and in response to all of this, Dave and the financial panel have decided to massively increase my wage in line with a prophetic word from a minister based in America. He told Dave and Glyn that the Church must honour its leadership in the same way as the Ten Commandments instruct us to honour our mother and father. He inferred that the Church will always be in lack unless this tangible honour is put in place. If the Church honours leadership, God will honour and bless the Church.

Itʼs been a gutsy step and the strain has increased more now that the decision has been made. We are however, believing our Lord and see it as a key to the blessing of God. Our faith has also increased. Weʼve had two visits from Sheffield City Council in the last week – one reviewing their partnership in the creation of a ʻMega Gymʼ and the other to lease floor space. Itʼs slightly strange how in the midst of our great daily needs we have two incredible possibilities concerning our long term needs. The leasing has the potential to stabilise the whole centre and put us


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

in a position to borrow finance to complete our 700 seater auditorium.

In 3 weeks, weʼre aiming to raise £250,000 from our congregation. Itʼs called our ʻFull Houseʼ offering for our new auditorium. I really hope it succeeds. We donʼt need a miracle offering as much as a heart miracle as people get hold of the vision and put their whole weight behind it. Weʼre looking for alabaster jar type giving! Iʼve told the Church not to pray too much about what to give! The woman with the alabaster jar wasnʼt necessarily prompted by the Holy Spirit but prompted by an incredible appreciation and devotion to God. She gave out of being ʻtruly, madly and deeplyʼ in love with Jesus. In asking God how much to give to God, we run the risk of taking the spirit of love out of our expression of love towards God. I believe in listening to the Holy Spirit, but often Heʼs there to tell us when to stop rather than when to start! I want people to go beyond the bottom line as well as beyond the normal ʻbusinessʼ agreement with God of giving in order to get. This is to be all about love.

The amazing thing that Iʼve learnt about an alabaster jar is that you canʼt unscrew the lid – it can only be smashed off. You canʼt give in half measure! Already, Iʼve heard of a car being sold and a wedding being downsized to offer the Lord the


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

financial savings. Weʼre really trusting in the Lord. There seems to be a lot going on in the Spirit realm, rippling into relationships and the general atmosphere. I believe that the offerings being made will guarantee us awesome victories.

2009 UPDATE Our bus ministry was not sustainable. A number of the men working on it eventually left the church as they thought that it may have been a leg up into their own powerful evangelistic ministry. Also, the number of community kids we were getting became unsustainable for our childrenʼs team. The ʻMega Gymʼ never got off the ground. We needed the same space for our youth and childrenʼs work and the Council were endlessly delayed by too many focus groups.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

rd

3 March 2000

We had our ʻFull Houseʼ offering (to be redeemed in the next 3 months) and it totalled £140,000. We were a little taken back – we expected more. Iʼve had to realise that over the past few years the people have given, above normal offerings, and including this offering, up to £300,000 towards the work.

Our offering was all about what we could do for God. Weʼre now in the territory of seeing what God can do for us. We have enough to get started but not enough to finish. Weʼve seen the architect and weʼve got the ball rolling. We need to receive £80,000 of the ʻFull Houseʼ offering in the next 7 weeks to get the place ready in time for Alive 2000 Conference in October. Help Lord. Then we need another £250,000 to internally equip the place. Itʼs incredible that weʼve got the possibility of Adrian Plass coming in November and have even been asked to hire the auditorium for a week in November by Soul Survivor. The pressureʼs on! I feel nervous! I feel that our name is at stake as weʼve publicly stated our intentions that all will be completed in time. I can think of a few alternative plans but Iʼve refused to talk about them or entertain them. Iʼm applying faith principles and trusting in the Lord. I know that today Iʼm a day closer to a


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

miracle!!! The Word of God is full of them – outstanding breakthroughs of God when the people had done all they could.

Thereʼs a good feel at Church at the moment. I feel like weʼre on the start of a growth curve. Itʼs only a feeling but I think that itʼs a ʻGod feeling.ʼ Weʼve had some excellent meetings. Thereʼs good momentum. Youth are getting saved and weʼre moving towards our goal of 2.1.4.8. – sharing something of the gospel to 2 people each week, inviting 1 person to a Church event each month, seeing 4 decisions in our main meeting each week and baptising 8 people each month. Itʼs a huge goal but weʼre aiming high.

Jenny put on an excellent national womenʼs event this week – she began these events with 50 ladies a couple of years ago and last year it jumped to 80 ladies attending. This week she had 160 ladies in attendance with a lot of leaders among them. Itʼs a move of God in our midst. Itʼs exciting. Jen still has problems with her eating – she finds that red meat and anything spicy cause her stomach to bloat resulting in great pain. Itʼs been happening for the past year. She sometimes wakes up at 2 or 3 in the morning with stomach pain that almost causes her to pass out.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

Iʼve found that reading the Bible at McDonalds really works for me – even with the radio on, I find that I can still focus on the Word!! I work well with ʻconsistentʼ distraction rather than ʻinconsistentʼ distraction! Since last August, Iʼve come to McDonalds almost every day after a morning run. I then go for a prayer walk to walk off the McMuffin! Itʼs a great routine – I really enjoy it and find that it really releases me.

Iʼm at McDonalds right now being reminded that Iʼm writing the diary of the Sheffield Revival – something that is as unknown as rain was to Noah. Iʼve only told Jenny about this diary. Thatʼs why Iʼm alive – for revival – thatʼs why Iʼm here. Iʼve got to not forget the big picture – itʼs about the gospel impacting lives and impacting a nation.

I turned 40 a few weeks ago. Itʼs old! No one whoʼs older believes that, but everyone younger does!!!! Iʼve got to realise that it really is quite old so I donʼt subconsciously create an ʻageing congregationʼ. Many forgot to raise up the next generation because they still think theyʼre young. My mother is now in her seventies. My wife says that itʼs not old! My mum says itʼs not old! Itʼs all relative.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

With Dave and Anne becoming part time missionaries, Iʼm now looking for a pastor to run our pastoral care. I think Iʼve had a paradigm shift from the necessity to have an older person. When I was 18, 26 was old! Iʼm open to raising up the next generation in a big way. I also know that what they may lack in experience, weʼll gain in teachability and examplehood!


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

th

14 March 2000

I was talking to one of the guys in our band and he said in a round about kind of way that I needed to thank God much more for all of the things that Heʼs already done in my life. It was apt. I have a fixation on the future and rarely glance in the rear view mirror.

Jenny is in Australia at the moment. Sheʼs had a couple of people come up to her saying how much my ministry has affected them. I preached at Bradford Abundant Life and I met the couple that began Virgin Vie beauty shops – they told me I should be on telly. I dismissed all of it but I felt the Holy Spirit say “Iʼm attempting to encourage you.” Iʼm amazed at the attempt! I get focused on my lack and insecurity and God is really trying to change that. Amazing!

Jenny had a prophesy in Australia that ʻthe money is coming.ʼ I believe that Godʼs spoken to me that Heʼs going to surprise me! I heard a song recently from Charlie Peacock which included the words ʻHeʼs creeping up on meʼ – something like that. I really feel that the Lord is going to creep up on me – totally surprise me. The psalmist says that he waits for the Lord. I need


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

to wait for Him and not run off a minute early like Saul did while waiting for the priest Samuel to come.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

rd

3 May 2000

Itʼs been a really intense time! The last month has been taken up with re-inventing the Church for the start of the new Church year in September. Itʼs been a real challenge. Dave and Anne are off to Hungary and there has been a necessity to really cut expenses and re-invent the budget. Iʼm releasing my schoolsʼ worker into youth evangelism across the nation and Iʼm bringing down the number of people who mill around the Church centre during the day. Iʼve realised that there is a tipping point when it comes to the number of people working in the centre and overall work inefficiency. Most people would think that the more people working, the more gets done. What tends to happen is that overall administration becomes inefficient with so many separate administrative centres being formed; socialising increases with a need to say hello to so many people; and vision sharpness tends to decrease with ʻbuzzʼ totally usurping scores on the board. Without cutting right back, I believe that there is an optimum functioning level.

Itʼs been a real challenge - taking back the control of things and changing from delegated leadership back to directive leadership. With Godʼs amazing help I think Iʼm dealing with it all. There have been so many undercurrents of emotion. Iʼve had to


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

give the Church over to the Lord so many times lately. Iʼve had to be strong and loving. Itʼs brought back a lot of memories from the last time I did this. Things werenʼt good and everything hit the fan. Leaders refused to relinquish their leadership and a number rebelled. Iʼve had to face it and I know that thatʼs the past, not the future. Iʼm sure that Godʼs enlarged me since and increased the size of my heart. I have a personality type, though, that when I get a new pair of shoes, I never wear the old ones again. My new shirts totally replace old ones. I will always have to watch my pragmatic side in the launching of ʻnew things.ʼ Iʼve done that with people in the past only to provoke feelings of rejection. Iʼve dismissed the old for the new too quickly. I am now so aware that this isnʼt just about corporate vision, but a progressive vision for every individual. With my personality I also find that nothing has sentimental value. I can also change friendships easily and be quite rootless! Thereʼs always a voice nudging me to move house and move city! Iʼm resisting it. I am aware that itʼs also a part of having moved so often since I was born. As a family we never developed close relationships and have been quite independent in all of the locations weʼve lived in. Itʼs taken the Lord a lot of work to develop a shepherdʼs heart within me that is committed to the pasture Godʼs given. I can really understand it but I donʼt really like it when certain leaders say “Iʼm the visionary of the Church” and distance themselves from the overall shepherding of


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

the Church. I really believe that the senior leaderʼs ministry is the shepherding ministry and being a visionary is actually a part of being a shepherd.

From last October to last month, weʼve had a 15% drop in Church attendance. Thatʼs a 15% drop in 7 months. I think that thatʼs been reflected in the drop in our finances. Itʼs so hard to explain why weʼve had such a drop. We deal with so many people who suffer from what I have had to deal with – rootlessness and restlessness. Itʼs our challenge to create roots beneath them. This month, however, our attendance is picking up again. I know that when you begin building projects you can often lose people because of the increased demand especially upon their pockets. Where your treasure is, your heart is also! Right now I really want to increase the sense of family amongst us and increase an environment that is conducive to establishing stronger relationships.

Jenny and I went to an ʻall paid forʼ marriage retreat last week. At night, it turned into a prophesy session! The pastor prophesied that I needed to lighten up! I realise that thereʼs a ʻboyʼ side to my personality that many people rarely see. The pastor also prophesied that I would come into a new style of preaching – more relaxed and humorous. He declared national


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

influence and our opening with the media. Jenny had a great word about being the Marilyn Hickey of the UK!!! She doesnʼt really know who Marilyn Hickey is but it sounds powerful!

It was funny to see one of the couples who had done a lot of damage to our Church and then left to create their own Church in attendance at the retreat. It was a litmus test for me to see how much God had done in me since that time. We had a good chat and I felt free and easy. Praise God!

2009 UPDATE The releasing of our youth worker was the right decision but the transition was not successfully accomplished. He felt called to another church and because we refused to affirm the call, the parting wasnʼt amicable.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

th

8 June 2000

Itʼs been a month of coming back to directive leadership. I donʼt like it because I want everyone to be happy! Iʼve taken back the reigns over so much of what I had previously delegated. Itʼs been a struggle!! People (including myself) find it so hard to relinquish control. I so want TEAM, and not just a collection of different visions. The first step must be to give the clear sounds of captaincy. I want to streamline the Church – make it leaner and fitter - for the next move and to take it to the next level.

I have been the recent target of criticism! People donʼt like change and there have been times lately when peopleʼs bad agendas and sharp insecurities have risen to the surface. I so want people to simply love God, become like God and love people. So many people love it when I focus on them and when I spend time with them, but the moment my attention goes elsewhere – they collapse. Lord, give them a revelation of yourself. Iʼm confident, though, that weʼre designing for the next level and not just pandering to the present. Weʼll win. I believe that God has taken Jenny and I to the next level and we are to take our Church on to that level.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

On a lighter note, I just cycled 330 miles right across Ireland and across Wales – in 5 days (in fact, if you take out a day in Dublin, you could say 4 days!) I love cycling. I really need to buy a bicycle. I went with some guys from Church and had a brilliant time. On a personal note, my dad is very sick. Heʼs 77 years old and needs a heart operation but heʼs too weak to have one just yet. Also, my brotherʼs family (in America) have just left him – too much tension for far too long. I see my dad once a year in Sydney while attending the Hillsong Conference. We meet, chat, have lunch and then plan to meet the following year! I havenʼt seen my brother for 5 years or so. Itʼs quite a difficult relationship. I enjoy seeing him but heʼs pretty reactive. We are, what youʼd call, a dysfunctional family! I feel for my mum as her whole life has been invested into my dad. They divorced many years ago, but still see each other often and Dad regularly stays for a week in every month. (He lives in Sydney and mum lives in Canberra. He spends the rest of the time writing books – mostly dictionaries!) Theyʼve become more and more dependent over the years. We need a breakthrough from God.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

th

15 June 2000

I told my leadership class that the stuff that was in the room – a sense of family, commitment, vitality, faith, loyalty, perseverance and diligence – is the stuff of revival. It carries with it the massive force of heaven that defeats all spiritual powers. I think it really empowered them.

Jennyʼs first ʻFabulous Youʼ womenʼs conference is beginning today. There has been an incredible sense of unity amongst the women in the putting on of the conference. I believe the unity is as powerful as the ministry itself.

In the light of the re-invention of our Church and the introduction of some new key players, I have had 2 couples recently say theyʼre leaving. I could see it coming but hoped that they would make the changes to stay. Deep down, I know that theyʼve never really been a part. Theyʼve never really laid down their agenda (or their ministry franchise.) They feel like they donʼt belong and have secretly noted that the emergence of a new breed of leaders arising is the closing of the door to the possibility of their public emergence in the near future. Itʼs similar to a time a number of years ago when we had another upsurge of new leaders. The older ʻwould beʼsʼ (who tended to be in their


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

fifties) reacted and many left. Thereʼs a sense of loss in my heart that they failed to make the change necessary to come with us, but thereʼs also a relief that theyʼve quit contesting things behind the scenes! Iʼm concerned, though, over all of the people they personally influence in the life of the Church. Iʼve got to realise, however, itʼs God who builds His Church. Iʼm confident that weʼre entering a season of growth that will surprise all of us. I believe that weʼre building a Church that will be more incredible with each year that passes. Our people are committed, have a huge heart for new people, and are hungry for impact.

2006 UPDATE Fabulous You became She is Fabulous, which now attracts over 600 women and leaders from across the UK and Europe. I believe that Ryan being on Blue Peter was prophetic for our breaking into the media. Since then we have developed Hope City Media which produces our Church News on a Sunday, media items for our Sunday night event, as well as any media needed for our conferences and larger events throughout the year. In 2009 we got our biggest breakthrough when HopeCityTV debuted on UCB TV (Sky Channel 586) appearing 4 times a week including Thursday at 10pm and Sunday at 6pm. The first series ended in November and more episodes are to follow!


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

th

20 June 2000 I remember Andrew Evans, the former leader of the Australian AoG, once saying that when his leadership was under attack regarding how ʻanointedʼ he was, he made a conscious decision not to defend it. In the meantime, a young deaf boy had his hearing restored through Andrew laying hands on him. God used that incident to re-instate his leadership to the people and to dismiss every critic over his lack of ʻanointingʼ. On the aftermath of a difficult week of people leaving our vision and the Church family, we had one of our greatest Sundays. The women also had a brilliant conference. My eyes have been too much on those with division and not those with the vision. There is such a move of unity, loyalty and faith amongst us that it has again highlighted anyone who holds the opposite spirit.

It really is a great time. I really believe that there will be loads of people who get saved and be instantly unified with the family and the spirit of the house. I believe that this holiday season will bring an increase in people being added and united to us, as well as an increase in offerings (rather than the typical summer trend of low attendance and low offerings.)


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

th

25 June 2000

My dad passed away at around 1pm today. I know he was ill but had no idea that he would die a week or so prior to when I had planned to see him.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

th

30 June 2000

Today is the day that we said goodbye to Dad and gave our thanks to all he gave and left as a heritage to us. Itʼs been a sad day. I donʼt know if itʼs because I wanted the ending to be so much brighter or simply that my dad of 40 years has now departed. I felt God say to me that he died at the right time (just like Jesus had come at just the right time.) That comforted me. I have felt like Iʼve been at the bottom of a canyon with no way out as I have reflected on my life with Dad. Itʼs all so sad. He left a great heritage of industriousness and adventure as well as sheer guts and determination. He was a man of influence and, though not known widely, has affected the future of many nations in the field of the environment. It was great to meet a man called Bill from the Rotary Club and University of New South Wales who came down from Sydney for the funeral. He said that Dad was proud of us kids!!!!! I think that that was what I looked for so much from Dad and what I have found in Father God – a pride and an admiration of who I am and all I do. I was amazed when Bill said he counted Dad as one of his best friends!! He loved Dadʼs stories and said that Dad was a brilliant speaker – captivating both the rotary assembly as well as students. He said that Dad also was asked to speak at some general university talks and was found to be a speaker of both humour and


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

eloquence. I am amazed at how I have entered an arena that Dad was walking in.

In answer to prayers, it has been incredible to find out the number of born again Christians surrounding his life. He was lecturer and tutor of 3 sisters from Hong Kong and Bill says that they tried to convert him!!!! He was currently tutor to a woman whose husband is the pastor of a Chinese Church. We also opened a letter addressed to Dad that he hadnʼt opened yet. The letter contained a number of scriptures – obviously written by a committed Christian!

Dad had a chance. I just pray that he gave his life in the last days to the one who had already died for his sins. Anything can happen in the last days of someoneʼs life.

Mumʼs friend came over to me and told me not to live with any regrets. That meant a lot to me. I wish I could have seen him before he died. I wish I could have told him how proud I was of him. We were worlds apart.

Lord, I commit my dad into your loving and merciful arms. Grab him and donʼt let him go. Accept him by your blood. I hope to see him soon in the grounds of eternity and in the light of


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

glory. Thank you for a man who loved me, gave me the meaning of dedication, the secret of achievement and the spirit of an adventurer. May I build with all he gave.

I guess that Scott of the Antarctic, Hillary of Everest, Livingstone of Africa and many other pioneers didnʼt see their families much either. I guess thatʼs the nature of having a dad whoʼs a pioneer. He wasnʼt a friend so much as an inspiration. He taught me through example. He has impacted my life like few others have.

Before I came to Canberra, someone prayed that this would not only be a time of release, but also a time of getting something from God to move further into destiny with. Iʼm believing for it.

Itʼs so good to be with my brother and sister and her children. We havenʼt been together like this in around 20 years. I love family and being with Mum. Itʼs so hard to know the balance between pursuing goals and vision, and spending time with loved ones. How and when will I see Stuart again? What about Liz? How often shall I plan to see Mum? Holy Spirit – youʼll have to lead me well. My temperament is like Dadsʼ in that it would be easy for me to continue to be obsessive about the future plans


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

for Church and ministry and miss out totally on seeing the family. I pray Lord for your wisdom in all of this. I really do need to pray (and fast) for Mum and my brotherʼs salvation - to see God do a mighty work in their lives. I think that part of my sadness for Dad is not hearing that affirmation that I will see him in heaven. It must make so much difference.

Iʼll really miss the thought of not sending him cards from all the places I go to and putting a smile on his face.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

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14 July 2000

Last week we went to Dadsʼ flat in Sydney to organise his belongings. It was the first time I had been to his flat. I felt a little guilty going through his drawers and belongings, but felt that I got to know more of the man in those few hours in the flat than the many times in his company. I was deeply impressed by Dadʼs integrity by finding no ʻskeletons in the closet.ʼ We only found meticulously put together photo albums, masses of letters from both publishers and past students who fondly called him ʻDaddyʼ, books and more books, and stacks of Meccano. I tried on his suits and found that they both didnʼt fit and didnʼt suit. I took some memories like his Egyptian beetle and his money wallet and a full size photo of Dad. I feel proud of my dad. He struggled with all of us in the family over the years and it has become obvious that he had adopted another family of students from Hong Kong whom he wrote to and befriended. I like the idea that his world was not just his own but that he still had capacity to reach out and touch others.

In a funny way, my dad has become more alive and more animated now that heʼs passed away than when he was alive.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

Iʼve just been to Hillsong 2000. Iʼve had a great time with Jenny and Ryan and we feel like royalty every time we go to Hills. Itʼs been so good to meet up with old friends and to catch the spirit of Hillsong and the heart of Brian Houston. Itʼs a place where sermons are preached in power and excellence and heart is shared in openness and freshness. Itʼs been a brilliant time. We talked to one of Brianʼs team at Hills and asked him about our idea of having a board of advisors. He offered to be one of those advisors and to help in the oversight of the Church throughout the year. I feel great about it. It makes me vulnerable to a group of men who have the opportunity to look over every aspect of Church life. Itʼs a little scary but I know that it will provide great strength and power. In a way, it will give to me a greater power to make right decisions and greater authority to build a significant Church.

2009 UPDATE The board of advisors never really took root. The idea of oversight outside of our church has taken root and Gerard, who was one of the three board members, is a part of our extended team. We have a couple of great fathers of the faith who impart big time into our Church and weʼre looking to foster these relationships further.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

st

21 July 2000

I feel like Iʼm under immense pressure. Financially, weʼre still out in the deepest of water. Our main account is constantly being rescued by other monies outside of our tithes and offerings. Our building fund is nothing like it should be. We need some miracles. Thereʼs no further interest in people leasing part of our property and a ʻmillionaireʼ lead has only retrieved a token offering. Lord – help!! Weʼve had around 10 earners leave the Church, affecting our financial ability. Besides all this, the Megacentre needs cleaning and all our interns have finished for the year! I also feel that I canʼt muster up the energy to put on any more events or to have any guests visit us.

I have, however, enjoyed being with friends. Iʼve got a new theme – enjoy the journey. Iʼm pretty exhausted by forced relationships. I know that the placing of some of my friends in leadership positions has been the straw thatʼs caused a number of people to leave – but I canʼt keep on pursuing relationships that never seem to actually click together. In actual fact, I feel like thereʼs a new unity surrounding me – people that care for me and love me! Someone said that I need people other than ʻyesʼ men around me. I feel really pressured by that comment. What I really, really need are friends that are really concerned for me


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

and people that I can have a good laugh with! I need opinions but opinions that build rather than jar. To many people, my new leadership structure looks thin, but thatʼs because a lot of the guys have only recently ʻcome of ageʼ. I think that itʼs a great team and will prove itself to be so the more weʼre together.

We had 8 people from Kosovo in Church on Sunday – all asylum seekers! Also a lady got saved on Sunday who came to the Church when we began 9 years ago! Amazing. I guess I can conclude that God can move on any heart and bring them to salvation. Itʼs God who can bring people to Church. Itʼs God who can build His Church. I think weʼre like a space rocket that has now lost the section that used to contain the fuel used in take off – the section that helped create momentum but now lies redundant to the rest of the mission. Weʼve been streamlined in order to get to our destination – souls and more souls.

Iʼm pretty weary with people transferring in from other churches. Many have been ʻdivorcedʼ from 2 or 3 previous churches. They carry a lot of baggage. I want souls – I need to design the Church to catch as many souls as possible. I think itʼs the key that really makes a great Church. There are a lot of people who have so much knowledge, yet their lives are so


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

fruitless. They no longer live for the lost. God – give me good people.

On Monday I did a leadersʼ retreat at Milton Keynes Christian Centre. What a fantastic day it was. Good preaching, good relationship and powerful altars. The best!


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

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27 July 2000

Two things have happened this week. We got our quotation for the work on our 700 seater auditorium. It was massive!! More than anticipated. I think weʼll be doing it ourselves. We wonʼt be ready for our big conference. Secondly, one of our current tenants leasing a part of the top floor of the Megacentre is pulling out. I canʼt believe that so many churches work on a financial surplus. How do they do it? Iʼm pretty exhausted with it all.

How long Lord and how much further? Weʼre desperate for some miracles. I know that John, our Australian builder, who came over to help us, is a miracle from God. I know that our enthusiasm is a miracle. Lord, we need more, much more!


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

th

8 August 2000

Weʼve had a fantastic last 3 weeks in Church. The energy has increased, the numbers have been buoyant and the preaching excellent! With certain people with particular agendas having left, it seems like a cork has been taken out of the bottle. Itʼs August and the numbers should be down. The enthusiasm should be waning. I know that God is in on it. I declared in July that this is what I believed would happen. People are getting saved too!!!

I do feel like my preaching is on a higher level. Iʼm being myself more - Iʼm more relaxed, Iʼm more personable and more flowing!! It seems that Iʼve emerged in a new confidence. Thank you Jesus.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

22

nd

August 2000

All is still going great. I feel like a rocket speeding towards its destiny. God uses some people to help you get lift-off but unless the used booster departs, it becomes a burden – everything slows and everything encumbers.

With the last evacuation of all our super spiritual people, I feel relief and joy. The Church has experienced a dramatic increase in the attendance since their departure. Thereʼs movement at the station.

On a personal note, we decided to move to a bigger house – our house has been on the market for 5 days – weʼve had 12 couples look and 4-5 offers. Thereʼs a price war on for the house. It must be the blessing of God. Three years ago we sowed part of our previous house into our building project and moved down market. Now the blessing of God has come to shower us with love and favour. God has shown me how he can turn situations around in power!

Even with the Churchʼs spring clean Iʼve been concerned lately by a fresh couple who appeared to me to be quietly building their own kingdom. I confronted them, under wisdom


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

from my new Church advisors, and received a pretty negative reaction (at least the cards were on the table.) Within 3 days, after some great guest ministry, we had a turn around - a complete change. My greatest pressure of last week has now been solved by God. I know that God can change hearts if people are willing. Iʼve had a rough time – but now the blessing is coming. Iʼve surrounded myself with friends – faithful people who carry my DNA. I feel stronger and more empowered.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

th

26 September 2000

Our new mortgage offer for our house came through today and weʼre moving this Thursday. God has been so good to Jenny and I. Financially, itʼs a harvest time for us – Iʼm amazed. Iʼve tried to buy a flat for Chris and Louise to rent cheap for a few years but it hasnʼt worked out. Iʼve tried to give money to others but I have a suspicion that the Lord is wanting me to relax in his blessing and to note seasons to give and note this season to receive.

Some people have become acutely aware that the average age of the leadership team has severely dropped (to an average age of between 30 and 35). Iʼve tried to redress the balance, especially by inviting 2 older couples onto the team, but have had no success. It must be God. It must also be a testing of the hearts of those who are worried by this. It seems that even after our recent departures, there is some new unrest starting to surface. Sometimes I wish I was more pastoral - more a ʻbig shepherdingʼ type. Some would say that Iʼm an evangelist and I lose people because of the narrowness of the gifting. Iʼm not sure. I know that this is all a part of a ʻdeath of the dreamʼ test to purify my intentions and to bring my heart closer to Godʼs heart. It seems the hardest test of all (and the one many fail in), but itʼs


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

the one that will set me up for resurrection power. God just needs a good funeral!

Iʼm believing that out of my letting go of and dying to my efforts to involve the over 50ʼs, that God will give us a resurrection of that age group. Iʼm believing that God will also give me incredibly gifted and submitted leaders that can minister to that age range.

Beside me is an incredible team. Naomi has just come from Australia and is a gift from God. Glyn is doing great and my pastoral team is so good. Weʼre all leading with the same heart in the same direction. It should produce a blessing. Sometimes youʼve got to lose a few to gain a multitude.

A second minister has fallen in immorality in the past month in our city leadersʼ fellowship. He was part of the city leadership team that Iʼm on. I know that heʼs been off the cutting edge for some time. Iʼm mindful that I must keep seeking the Lord and avoid the cooling down at all costs.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

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31 October 2000

Weʼve just finished Alive 2000 – it was a tremendous success. We had it in the Roxy Nightclub with around 500 attending each day (including 70 kids) and over 1000 each night. It was brilliant.

Life is spinning fast at the moment. Next year I donʼt think Iʼll have any routine at all. Iʼll be in Hungary, Ukraine, Seattle, Australia twice and who knows where else!!!! Jenny has just come back from Seattle – she stayed with Kevin and Sheila Gerald who run a powerful Church. She came back with 2 books on Attention Deficit Disorder in adults that describe me to a tee (so she says!) It even explains how ADD people donʼt like to be touched or stroked – thatʼs me. It says that the cause of this hypersensitivity is that all 5 senses are on overload all the time. It even explains why I study better in a hotel foyer rather than at home or at the office. It explains my hyper focusing and inability to concentrate unless highly stimulated. It has been a revelation to me!! Sometimes when people speak to me, my mind flits away – not out of disrespect but out of a lack of stimulation. I need them to get to the point! Iʼm very highly strung and find it hard to be spontaneous. When I am, I tend to go way over the top and really eccentric. If I havenʼt a hyper focus or a preoccupation, Iʼll


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

search for one, either latching onto another project or a worry or a phobia. I donʼt think I could have married anyone else beside Jenny. I donʼt think anyone else could handle my over sensitivity, my insensitivity, my slight mental-ness, my erratic nature ….. sheʼs a special kind of person. I think that her slight independence works for me. Her uncomplicatedness really helps and her ability to drop issues quickly is a great advantage!!! Maybe thatʼs where my brotherʼs marriage has suffered. Heʼs definitely got similar issues to me.

Itʼs been 4 months since my dad passed away and I feel a bit funny that I havenʼt missed him. In fact, I have only had one twinge of emotion since he died. I think that my world has always been so distant from what his was and where he was. I also think that thatʼs where my ADD comes in. I have an ability to change paradigm so easily and to detach myself from different situations. One of the books calls it an ability to ʻnot be bound by boundaries.ʼ I seem to have one set of boundaries for a while with its own paradigm of thought and action, and then, within a moment, change to a completely new way of thinking with a whole new set of boundaries. It certainly makes it hard for people to follow me. It keeps them on their toes!


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

Iʼve also found it a real effort simply to be with people. I have to really concentrate to just ʻbe there.ʼ I actually really like sleeping alone and get a feeling of being totally relaxed in my own world. I donʼt think that itʼs too healthy for me to do that and I hope Jen doesnʼt take it as rejection! I also really love driving alone at night with ambient music playing loud through the speakers. I donʼt know if many people would ever understand the constant effort I put in to ʻbe social.ʼ Iʼm like a loner pushed into the public domain. Thatʼs why being down at McDonalds or in a hotel foyer works for me. Iʼm all alone, have regular interruptions (not irregular interruptions) and a nicely defined environment, away from little obsessions about things to do at home and the crazy world of Church life.

2009 UPDATE After studying up on autism and completing a test for autism, I have discovered that many of my characteristics are actually autistically based and not just tied to ADD. Ryan shares a number of these characteristics but is a little more normal than me and both my brother and sister show attributes that have an autistic origin. If youʼre reading this, sorry about that!


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

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29 November 2000

Church is starting to build again. All of the programmes are going so well and my ʻhome grownʼ team is such a strength. Itʼs taken almost 10 years to get a team that is either saved through the Church or totally grafted into the Church. I feel so much more relaxed knowing that there is loyalty on every side and nobody sees themselves as the braking system. I think that Iʼm starting to enjoy the ministry more now than ever before. The Church is getting stronger and Iʼm striving much less in my relationship with God.

Iʼd still love to plant churches in Manchester, Leeds, Barnsley and right across the north of England. Iʼm starting to think that Glyn and Sophia, my assistants, may one day take on a city and Iʼve spotted some really talented couples that will one day impact the nation. Itʼs slower going, but I am committed to building with ʻhome grownʼ people than people brought in to be sent out. Weʼve learnt by experience.

2009 Update Barnsley?? I guess that never happened...


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

st

31 December 2000

This has been an awesome month. I hired a limousine and took Jenny, Colin and Dawn out for the night. We went to th

th

celebrate our 15 wedding anniversary and Dawnʼs 30 birthday. It was fantastic!! Weʼve been on holiday for 2 weeks in Grand Canaria, off Africa, and came back to our Christmas celebrations and more holiday!!! We got an offer in from the City Council to hire our top floor of the Megacentre which could be the miracle that weʼve been looking for. I told Glyn to call them back and try to increase the offer!!! Iʼm certain that on the basis of this leasing, we can raise a massive loan and complete our plans.

We had 9 people for Christmas and it took us 4 ½ hours to unwrap all the presents!! Our tradition has become to unwrap all of the presents one at a time and this year, we had more than ever before – including a DVD player from the staff. We had a brilliant day.

Itʼs almost New Year and Iʼm amazed at how fast the past year has gone! I feel refreshed and Iʼd love some new revelation from God to launch me ahead. Iʼm far more comfortable than ever before though, in not having fresh revelation and not driving myself out of that state of contentment.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

It goes against my nature not to be constantly pushing the boundaries but Iʼm learning to both trust God and to enjoy the view. Iʼm thanking God for all that Heʼs done and reminding myself that Heʼs the same God today as He always has been. Iʼm expecting miracles, souls and finance as well as incredible influence. Itʼs been a good year. God has been gracious. Jenny and I have helped the Church of the nation move forward. Thank you Lord.

2009 UPDATE The deal was never followed through for the top floor. In hindsight, it would have taken up all our parking spaces for all of our other activities. We have now converted all of the space into a conferencing centre and lecture rooms for our Leadership Academy.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

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7 February 2001

The past year – my 40th year – has passed so quickly. I have hardly had time to adjust to the number 40 and 41 stands just outside the door! Iʼm not hung up about it, but I wish that I was 30. A part of me feels like Iʼm 10 years late in my development and fruitfulness. Iʼm no longer young and no longer seen as a ʻknight in shining armourʼ or even a ʻyoung rebel.ʼ I feel like I can relate much better to the ʻover 40ʼ generations and Iʼm definitely much more confident in the business world. In public, Iʼm conscious of every young executive and every young 30 something minister. I canʼt go back and donʼt want to – but I would like to be younger!!!

Church is currently at one of those calm, almost boring zones between one wave and the next. Itʼs full steam ahead yet the buzz of New Year is gone. The visa bills from the Christmas shopping have come through the post and a subdued atmosphere pervades!

I moved away from my normal well crafted and guarded sermons last week and let the raw side come out just to stir everyone up! It was a little certainly rough edged but Iʼm desperate to lift up the people to new heights in God and get rid


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

of the lingering atmosphere. I really dislike it when things settle and when we move back from the edge or hit some kind of ceiling.

Iʼve been reading and studying much more than ever before. Our new house (with more rooms) is much more conducive to me working from home. Iʼve also been enjoying books full of facts and snippets of history. Iʼm starting to feel quite knowledgeable!!!


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

rd

23 March 2001

Another month has gone by and all is quiet on the western front. Some relationships are a bit edgy and itʼs really difficult trying to iron things out. The hard part of being a senior minister is that you want to be best friends with those on your team but at the same time, you want to disciple them into champions. It makes it tense at times knowing that some issues will cause temporary division. I want to address issues but also I want everyone to see a fatherʼs heart at the same time. Jenny is in Australia right now and Ryan and I have been holding the fort. Men love ʻcave timeʼ and Iʼm no exception. I donʼt know if itʼs all that good for me to have too much. I find that I can get too melancholic for my own good if left to dwell for too long. In fact, I find it hard to construct proper sentences and talk easily after a day alone!!!

This is the second month running with no baptisms. Iʼm disappointed and pretty stressed about it but I do believe, however, that every Church is on the same team and if someone else is baptising 100 people, then itʼs good news for all of us. To further relieve me of my stress, Iʼve had a revelation that my goal – my ultimate goal - isnʼt to bring in the harvest but to simply please God. For me, that is at least attainable. I need to achieve


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

and that is an attainable achievement. Reinhardt Bonnke is simply pleasing God and the result is the outworking of his destiny. I canʼt save souls and I canʼt multiply finances. What I can do is put a smile on Godʼs face and give Him great pleasure. I was reading Hebrews 11 and it appears that that was the testimony of the heroes of faith – they pleased God.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

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15 April 2001

Well, itʼs our 10 year anniversary of the Church. Itʼs Easter Sunday and we had a good service this morning. Gerard came last weekend and said that there was heaps of energy in the Church but everyone seemed a bit lazy. I know what he meant. The cutting edge of evangelism has been pushed into the background. The comment has really affected me and I have driven myself back again into stirring up a passion for souls. I reminded the congregation this morning that the boat weʼre on isnʼt a Caribbean cruise ship but a battleship thatʼs running a mission for souls. I can feel that in our ʻoverfriendlinessʼ we have slipped out of the cutting edge of our mission. Weʼve lost our black and whiteness.

We thanked God for the first 10 years and dedicated the next 10 years to the cause of Christ – to seek and save people who are lost. We need to see the Zacchaeusʼs in the trees and zero in on people with a persuasiveness that causes people to come out of indecision and into making a positive decision for Christ.

For the last 2 days Iʼve been speaking at a Church leadership conference in a town in Lincolnshire. A man with


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

schizophrenia came up to me and said that when he gets better he wants to be a prophet. I was alarmed and said that setting up chairs and helping in the kitchen would be better and he could start now! On the second day of the conference I drove into the meeting and told Jenny that I needed a new jacket because my favourite one was starting to fall apart. At the end of the service this man came to me and gave me a cheque for ÂŁ50 for a new jacket. He knew nothing about my conversation with Jen. It was a rebuke from the Lord in the nicest possible way.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

rd

3 May 2001

Iʼm sitting at Copenhagen Airport after completing my first book. I donʼt know whether to call it ʻNonsenseʼ, ʻCounting Chickensʼ or ʻGoing Overboard!ʼ Iʼve got a long way to go though because itʼs the first draft. Iʼve also just been to Mal Fletcherʼs Strategic Leadership Conference for Europe. There were around 80 people in attendance and most of them led large churches and networks. Steve Penny was there and I spent a night asking him his thoughts. I feel like the conference (and the getting away from it all) has refocused me and re-invented my thinking. Steve was saying that multi-congregations under one Church was the way forward. It made me think that our heart for Manchester and Leeds could be fulfilled by incorporating them under one Church. We could run a congregation in both cities and set them up just like weʼre set up in Sheffield. Theyʼre so close that we could provide preaching ministry each Sunday and put in place a congregational pastor. We could have a morning service in Sheffield, an afternoon service in Leeds and a night service in Manchester. We could also expand into a Saturday night service at some stage either in Sheffield or in another town. My mind is racing and my heart is totally engaged! It feels like weʼve been in cruise mode. I think that our difficulty has been that we are apostolic but thereʼs been no one around to stir up the gift. We


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

donʼt fit amongst the general mould of churches. Weʼve lived in the shadow of larger world churches and weʼve been waiting for our turn to see large quantities of people saved. In the meantime, I have almost let the apostolic thing cool right down. We put a stop to our reaching out to Manchester a few years ago under respect for the thoughts of one of the leadership from Hillsong Church but I feel like weʼre ready to go now. Iʼm not a pastor or an inner city community man. Iʼm a Church builder. Itʼs in the blood and I know that Iʼm starting to rise up again to do something thatʼs very entrepreneurial …..

2009 UPDATE Through Steve Pennyʼs input and inspiration, we have created a multi congregational church and are enjoying the great benefits of it. We now have congregations in Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Birmingham. We have placed Congregation Pastors in each location with additional ministry being supplied from the wider team in Sheffield who travel every couple of weeks. Steve leads a great multi congregational Church on the sunshine coast in Queensland and heads up the S4 Network.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

STILL LIFTING OFF (original update from 2006) 13th December 2006

The last 5 years have been good years in the life of Hope City Church. All of my leaders have grown stronger and wiser and we have now become a multi congregational Church with congregations in Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds. Our eyes are now on places like Newcastle to grow even further. Our overall Sunday attendance is around 1100 people and our goal, on the back of prophetic words in the life of the church, is to double over the next couple of years.

Glyn is seeing great fruit with Audacious – a national youth conference as well as travelling internationally to speak. Jenny had a great season running ʻFabulous Youʼ womenʼs conference and network and then this year we evolved ʻFabulous Youʼ into the ʻFabulousʼ Conference, giving space for men and women

to be impacted

and

releasing

Jenny

to speak

prophetically to the whole church.

I still get affected greatly by people who leave the Church and especially those who gave no signs that their departure was looming. I suspect that thereʼs so much going on in peopleʼs lives


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

that I know nothing about because of their inability to open up and really share whatʼs going on.

God has really helped us financially and we have continued to push the boat out with each fresh gust of faith.

There have been times when we were right on the wire but after bringing it to the leadership and partners we have been able to stand in faith for Godʼs provision – and He has never let us down.

In May 2005 we stepped out in faith to begin raising finance for a 2000 seater Megaplex. The project will take millions and we wanted to raise the first million through a three year pledge by members of the church who would raise finance though entrepreneurial means. We built up to this over a period of 18 months and then on a Sunday in May we took the pledges. It was a nerve racking few minutes as we counted live and watched the total going up on screen – but the final total actually hit £1.1million. A year later, once the dust had settled and people had got to work the pledge still stood at over £900,000 which we see as a more realistic total of what is actually going to come in. All in all – God has been amazing through the whole venture and there are countless testimonies of the way God has blessed


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

people in stepping out into business and other ways of raising finance.

Our Liverpool congregation came about through the adoption of a small congregation that had at one stage been a much larger influence in the city. It wasnʼt an easy change over but after a couple of years it is now a thriving expression of Hope City

Church

in

Liverpool.

Our

Manchester

and

Leeds

congregations began just with myself and a great team from Sheffield travelling over for a Sunday night meeting. Both now meet on a Sunday morning and have built their own teams. Itʼs our heart to keep it all one Church and the advantages of this corporative-ness are completely evident in every area of our Church life. Each congregation has their own congregation pastors who are doing an incredible job seeing them grow. All three congregations now regularly get over 100 each Sunday.

Well, hereʼs to the future! Itʼs in Godʼs hands already and my ʻconfidenceʼ scripture is from Psalm 138, ʻGod will fulfil His purposes for me.ʼ God will do it. Itʼs His purposes and not mine. Itʼs in the bag.


Ground Zero to Lift Off – The real diary of a real minister

2009 Update Newcastle and Birmingham were eventually launched in the same way as Manchester and Leeds. As mentioned before we released the Manchester congregation under the leadership of Glyn and Sophia and it has gone on to become the successful Audacious City Church. In October 2007, Liverpool acquired its own Megacentre when they took over the running of a Sports Centre complete with Gym, 5-a-side football pitches and even a bowling green. Then the following year we purchased a building in Leeds, a similar size to the one in Sheffield, and launched the Leeds Megacentre. Currently we now see over 1200 people meeting in our 5 congregations each week but as always weĘźre believing for more!


Ground Zero to Lift Off