127: Church Planting Mistakes: “Your Church Plant Will be Successful” (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 your church plant will be successful.


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Hypothesis – It’s a mistake to think that your church plant will definitely be successful.

  • Its easy to come into church planting with the idea that your plant will definitely succeed.
  • The reality is that we only become leaders as the church grows under our leadership.
  • Is it a mistake to assume it will be successful? What does it mean to succeed? What are our ideas of success and how do they change over time?
  • At the beginning success might look like just still being here in 2 or 5 years time! That may seem like a low bar but, particularly when you have moved to a new place or overseas, it’s a legitimate goal to have.
  • Survival, health and building a family life are important, especially in those first few months.
  • You plant a church because you think there is a possibility that you can do it. That you have the skills required. Your sense of calling is what makes you keep turning up.
  • Is it naivety, faith, vision, stupidity or arrogant self-belief to think that you could succeed where many others have failed?
  • What about having a back-up plan? Is it appropriate to have a back-up plan of what you will do if it doesn’t work out? What might a back-up plan look like?
  • What does succeeding actually look like at the beginning? Maybe 50 people. Hosting a Sunday meeting well. Doing community well. Having enough people involved and committed that you and your core team are not burning out.
  • How does the idea of success change once you have started?
  • Idealism V Pragmatism. You might have and ideal that you see numbers of people saved, you serve the community etc. Pragmatically these things will only happen once you have committed people on the ground.
  • Is it possible to become too idealistic? Should we abandon ideals? What is an appropriate balance between pragmatism and idealism?
  • What does failure look like? It may not work as a church. Even then you personally (and those alongside you, family, core team) may have grown and built stronger relationships. Is that really failure?
  • A lot of successful church planters will have a ‘failed’ plant somewhere on their CV. Even this can be a positive experience.
  • It is not necessarily a waste of time if a church ceases to exist. You often don’t know the fruit of what you have achieved.
  • Failing might in reality be more like being so consumed by the church plant that you neglect your family, yourself and relationships.  That really would be a problem.