052: Pacing Yourself For a LifeTime of Church Planting

Anthony Henson currently leads Grace Church Wolverhampton, his eighth church plant in the last 30 years. In this podcast episode, we talk to Anthony about what it takes to keep going for a lifetime of church planting.


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Tell Us About Your Church Planting Journey

  • Anthony was an elder at New Community Church in Sidcup for a couple of years and was given the task of raising up new people into eldership. 
  • He came to realise that in time this would lead to him giving his own role away. 
  • New people from Orpington had joined the church, so it got onto the agenda to church plant there, and Anthony with his wife Gill decided to go for it.
  • At the time they had four young children - who have played a key part in the church planting journey over the years.
  • They started in Orpington in 1990 with 28 people. They laid a good foundation, did some outreach and the church started to grow.
  • In 1996, the church in Orpington planted out a new church in St. Paul's Cray.
  • In 1997, the Hensons moved to Leicester to plant again, and did so with a vision for planting out from there to Derby and Loughborough.
  • They stayed in Leicester until 2003. During the process of developing leaders for Derby and Loughborough, God spoke to them about also raising up a new leader to take over in Leicester.
  • They began to feel led to plant a church in Stoke-on-Trent.
  • They then spent four and half years in Stoke, where they grew the church (mainly through outreach).
  • From the very beginning of this church, Anthony developed a young team that could take it forward.
  • In 2008, they then moved on to Lincoln. They planted there, developed a team and then handed the church on after three and a half years. 
  • They then moved to Wolverhampton to plant, and have been there for the last four and a half years. 

Over 30 years, you have planted 8 churches. How have you found a rhythm that works for it?

How did you manage to take 2 or 3 evenings off a week?

  • People don't expect that they can always see doctors or dentists in the evenings. Nor should they have this expectation of church leaders.
  • Try to do as much as possible in the daytimes.

To what extent should church planters factor Saturdays into their plans?

  • Anthony tends to use one Saturday morning per month for outreach, but mainly leaves it as a day that people can enjoy with family and friends.
  • It is a very light day.

What is your approach to holidays?

  • They plan them a year in advance!
  • They tend to plan a summer holiday, a week in late May, plus a few days here and there through the year.
  • You need to have faith for church planting, but also faith for your own personal life.
  • Anthony and Gill have faith to find funds for good breaks throughout the year.

What have been some of your biggest causes of stress and how have you handled them?

  • Often hearing bad news (e.g. people leaving the church) can hit a leader hard.
  • It can take 2 or 3 days to process the disappointment. Anthony gives himself that time before reacting so he has had space to get some perspective.
  • He has found it helpful to develop a hobby (oil painting). This slows down the pace of everything - and engaging in a different discipline is very useful.

What advice do you have for young church planters about pace?

  • You only have one life - make sure you enjoy what you do.
  • If the leader is enjoying it, others will enjoy being with you.
  • Try to do things in a way that you enjoy.