126: Church Planting Mistakes: “People Will Follow You” (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 the myth that people will join the church because they follow you.


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Hypothesis – It’s a mistake to think that the church will grow because people want to follow you.

  • Often when we start church planting we can fall into the trap of thinking that people will rally to us personally.  That we are gifted leaders, have a strong magnetic personality or a particular gift which will draw people in.
  • There is a myth of the visionary leader which is what we see when we look at huge churches with a strong leader at the centre of it all. However, the reality is that we can’t all lead churches of thousands – its not realistic and the data on the ground doesn’t back it up.
  • We can sometimes fall into the opposite trap though where we are clear what the vision of the church is to be, we know what God has said and we can clearly see it but we are not bold enough to speak it out and gather people around it.
  • Its important to have and express a vision which people can grasp and have faith for, so its not too big for them to handle, otherwise we won’t take them with us into it.
  • It helps to ask the question ‘Am I important to people staying and this church growing?’ or perhaps ‘how important am I to that?’
  • It’s a common mistake to think that everything your church plant does has to revolve around you. You have to meet up with everyone, lead everything, organise everything.
  • We need to learn when to take a back seat and allow others to have a go.
  • Vision and community are both important in church planting and we need to learn to recognise what things require our input and how long for. When to step back and watch others develop.
  • Vision also needs to have integrity and authenticity. So people do need to see you as the leaders living out the things which you talk about. That’s how they know you are serious about it.
  • It may be that a little bit of ego, or entrepreneurial energy, is necessary to go into a place and believe that you can actually start something brand new there.
  • Early on in a plant much does depend on your vision and your energy but there needs to be a transition. That’s when you realise that its not all about you. Its also the point at which others are given opportunity to do things and to grow.
  • To really build a New Testament church you need to harness other people’s vision as well as your own.