137: Church Planting Mistakes: I’ll Take Anyone (with Phil Whittall)

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 interview Phil Whittall who has planted in Stockholm about being willing to take anyone in a church plant.


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MISTAKE - I will take anyone because I want more people rather that just taking people who align with our vision and values.

  • A first question for lots of church planters is where their team will come from.
  • If your gifting is an evangelist you may be able to recruit your team from the harvest.
  • Particular moving cross-culturally the pool of people who might come with you is not large.
  • Sometimes you might get people wanting to come with you who have some very different ideas about key things in Christianity.
  • When you are more established you have a set culture so can integrate people with different ideas more easily.
  • In a very small church plant everybody's voice and influence goes further. 
  • Often the issue isn't that people disagree with your core values but would add others on a similar weighting - they want to define things more narrowly where for you it is a broad conviction issue.
  • You spend a lot of time asking people 'what do you mean by that?'
  • It is unhelpful to accommodate to a pressure to be something you are not.
  • It can often be the case that people have been with you for a while before these issues come to the surface.
  • These conversations are good for people coming in too - when you are small and people come in there is an expectation that there is more chance to shape what it will be.
  • You need to know what is open for you to work out together as a team and what are your non-negotiable convictions and ways of doing things together. 
  • Even when it is not spelled out, you can usually tell when somebody comes at things a bit differently from you - this gives you a choice whether you want to open that issue up or not. 
  • One question is when you start writing things down - when you develop your website may be the moment to do this. 
  • A lot of what gets written on the website can be practice as much as it is theology.
  • When you start with more people from the same church it gives you a head start in establishing culture.
  • In our hearts we need to ready for things to take a bit longer.
  • Fairly early on have something of your vision and values stated as a launchpad for conversation.
  • Planting for the second time helps you understand how things will go.