138: The Effect of Gathering New People (with Pete Cornford)

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 Pete Cornford who has planted two churches in London about the effect of gathering people into a church plant.


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MISTAKE - Expecting that when somebody visits they will come back the following week.

  • When Pete first planted he had a first time visitor almost every week.
  • This is very positive as it makes you outward looking.
  • The downside is having an expectation that they will come back and becoming discouraged when they don't.
  • This can play into our sense of being a people pleaser.
  • We can also let it effect our marriages. 
  • It can be easy to be constantly chasing the visitor.
  • In the early days of his first plant, Pete did his follow up by hand-written letters and invitations to dinner.
  • Often we don't look at church over a season, we look at it in a single week snapshot and respond too much to a down-week.
  • The key is a genuine belief that God is sovereign and builds his church.
  • Pragmatically, build with people not on people. 
  • Recognise that people will come and go.
  • Get people involved early.
  • For marriage, the mistake is spending too much time chasing people and not investing enough time into your wife and kids. 
  • Doing it this way might slow things down slightly but is way more sustainable.
  • The competition is not other churches - it is sport, drinking, shopping etc.
  • Doing tea and coffee both before and after the meetings gives time for people to connect.
  • Stories help people connect.
  • Termly small groups can be very good.
  • Values tend to be much more important to leaders than they are to the people in the church.
  • Every place is so different that you need to study a place to find the shape of a church for that place - we are not about mimicking or franchising someone else's church.
  • Releasing people into their workplaces is really important.