124: Church Planting Mistakes – “Preaching Is Not Important” (with Tim & Matt Simmonds)

Tim and Matt Simmonds are church planting brothers who are pioneering churches in Manchester and Amsterdam. In this series of podcast episodes they discuss mistakes they have made along the way. Today they talk about thinking that preaching is important.


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Hypothesis – It’s a mistake to think that preaching is important in a church plant

Why could this be true?

  • Myth of the gathering preacher – one person who is a gifted preacher and people gather to that gift and are saved as a result of it. This type of preaching gift is actually very rare and if it is what we are aiming for we be disappointed.
  • Church planters are often bi-vocational, working at least part time and planting church in the rest of their ‘spare’ time. Too much time can be spent preparing sermons. It means that their effort, energy and attention is diverted into this one thing.
  • When you are beginning a church plant you are gathering a crowd, building community, working out how to do mission together in your area and laying foundations. Preaching may not help do these things as much as people think it does or as much as putting energy in to other areas of church life.

Discussion and Thoughts

  • Your view and value on preaching will be massively affected and shape by your own church history and experience. If you have been in a church lead by a gifted preacher or a church with a very high view on the value of preaching you are likely to see preaching as very important.
  • Some would say that it takes 150 sermons to become a mediocre preacher, so church planters need to be doing it so they are developing their gift.
  • In the early days you are learning to preach. Its important for church planters to spend time doing this, playing the long game, so that their ability develops as the church grows. As with many aspects of church planting the early days are spent practicing!
  • Often a very high value is placed on preaching by people who are very good at it. Its important to work out what your gifts are and make sure that you are putting energy into those areas.
  • It’s not primarily preaching which gathers, disciples and grows community.
  • Most people join a church plant because of relationship and community but often people might stick because of preaching and teaching.
  • Whether or not the preaching is very good the fact that it is prioritised week after week demonstrates that God’s word is taken seriously and that we love the word of God.
  • Preaching is an opportunity to learn and understand the word of God together as a community.

What do new planters need to be good at?

  • In the early days the vast majority of your time will be spent hosting. You need to be good at hospitality. You may be gathering in your home so time is given to tidying up, preparing food, hosting, clearing away. You may have 100s of people through your home so you need to be good at it.
  • When you are starting out you are focussing on vision, values and identity as a church. Preaching can play a part in helping people understand these things.

Is it enough to think that as long as preaching doesn’t put people off it’s ok?

  • If I can prepare and preach well enough that people don’t leave is this good enough?
  • Have a sober realism about what you can achieve through preaching. Often we expect to change the world or see lives changed through one sermon and this isn’t usually the case!
  • Trust that God is at work with the few people in the room. You may not be brilliant but believe that the Holy Spirit will use what you have prepared and even your mistakes!
  • If you ask someone what they had for breakfast on 5th August 5 years ago most people would not be able to tell you. However they would know that they ate regular breakfasts and it did them good. The same is true of preaching, people may not remember what was preached, particularly whilst you are learning but they will remember that you did it regularly and it was good for them over time.