Starting a Church Planting Movement on a Shoestring (with Tim Simmonds)

Tim Simmonds is a church planter and leader who has been involved in starting several new churches in Manchester, and he also works with other churches in the UK and overseas. Tim is one of the leaders of Christ Church Manchester, which is part of the Catalyst Network of churches in Newfrontiers and he is the part of the Broadcast Network team. In this Broadcast, Tim speaks about how to start a church planting movement on a shoestring.

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We Want to Plant Churches with Devotion, Community and Mission at Their Core

  • Christ Church Manchester believe that a church is comprised of devotion, community and mission. If we plant a church that doesn't have one or two of these things then we haven't done a good job.
  • We're looking to plant communities of people who are devoted to Jesus in every part of their lives. 
  • We want to gather a community from all over the city to have fun together, serve each other and to grow together.
  • Each church that is planted at CCM wants to love and serve Manchester and the wider community that they're part of.
  • Devotion, community and mission impacts the way we do money at CCM.
  • It tends to be easier to church plant at a good pace cheaply with this model. 

Have a Tight Budget 

  • CCM has a tight budget in the fact that it is well organised and kept up-to-date. All of CCM's site leaders are well informed financially and know their budget for their site. 
  • Keep a good track of income and with that financial information you can plan for the year.
  • Set income targets for each site, which may sound pragmatic when discussing people's giving, but it's helpful to demystify church giving and be diligent to stretch what is given.
  • There is a helpful book by Nelson Searcy called Maximise on church finances.

Have a Faith Budget

  • CCM plans to spend more than what they get. This is deliberate because that faith step keeps you motivated for financial health.
  • Each church plant is a step out in faith financially.
  • Having a faith budget honours everybody because it admits that the church wants to do something big and exciting.

Start Small and Dream Big

  • All sites at CCM start with the intention of planting again quickly.
  • Each site starts as an investment, but gradually then becomes a contributor to the wider church planting movement.

Part-Time and Bi-Vocational Staff

  • We are built on part-time staff.
  • The money you want to invest is in growing something, not necessarily in paying yourself a full-time wage.
  • Most of CCM's staff at some point have been part-time and have had extra income from elsewhere. CCM has 8 staff members and 2 of those are full-time. So, there is an expectation of part-time staff, and the promise is never made for full-time ministry.
  • The choice of having part-time and bi-vocational staff means that as a church it's quite easy to take employment steps. It's very hard to employ someone full-time.
  • To ask someone to work one day a week for the church is a much easier choice to make budget-wise.


  • How a church runs it's budget is an opportunity to disciple in money. Jesus talked a lot about money. 
  • We are not fund-raisers, we are disciplers. 
  • CCM gives yearly financial reports to everyone as well as making clear what Jesus says about money through yearly sermon series.
  • Giving money away teaches generosity.
  • Talk about money and giving in terms of discipleship. Money is a worship issue. 


  • For churches, the dream is to give generously. 
  • CCM decided that Broadcast would be a free resource to anyone. CCM has also recently launched a theology training school which is all paid for by the church itself and open to anyone.
  • Try to give as much away as you can for free. 


1. Is the financial review presented at individual sites or is it a report that's handed out?

  • CCM hands out it's financial report as an email. Sometimes as the offering is going round updates are announced about the giving and where it is going.

2. Will it be that you always have trustees for all of the sites or will you ever look to separate these out to individual sites?

  • The strength is that they are interdependent. One of the benefits of having trustees over all of the sites is that the site leaders are then left to run the church and not worry about the finances.

3. How much attention should a brand new church planter give to finance?

  • Tim personally would pay a lot of attention to the money aspect of that new church site, even if it is very little. 
  • Like with a bigger church, you set what you want to achieve and figure out your finances in order to do that.
  • The church planter should pay attention to their personal finances, since they will be the most expensive aspect to an early church, and then the money that is being contributed can be used for other things.
  • Have financial records being kept even in the early stages because this will build trust. Have good systems in place to show competence. 
  • The small thing you have you must keep really well. 

4. What things have you seen church planters spend lots of money on that actually isn't necessary?

  • Usually themselves. Colin Baron would often say that the first spending mistake for church planters is either on their own salaries or on the next person they employ.
  • Try to spend money on things that are going to grow the church.
  • Church planters may not necessarily over pay themselves but they often try to get into full-time too quickly.
  • Spending too much on a venue is another mistake.

5. Do you have any sites up and running without any paid leaders?

  • CCM Gorton has no paid leaders, the site leader is self-employed and runs CCM Gorton in his spare time but has a really good team around him. There are two senior leaders in that site, the other is retired and both are full-time. 

6. When and how do you encourage people in the church plant's core team to give financially?

  • It's important to be clear about what Jesus says about money and how our finances help the city we are in. 
  • It should be an exciting thing to ask not a scary thing to ask.

7. If a church wants to plant again and doesn't have 10 grand in the budget to fund the first year, how would you suggest going about planting it? 

  • In the 10 grand budget, 4 or 5 is to pay someone and 4 or 5 is for venue costs. So you could half it immediately by not paying someone and do it on a volunteer basis. 
  • There is always a faith element to this. It's a kingdom principle. 
  • You should be able to talk about money and how to raise it in your site.

8. What sort of jobs will work best in the part-time and bi-vocational scenario?

  • Any job to get yourself moving, and after that find something that you have the energy to do. 
  • It depends on your family situation and what you have energy for. Don't beat yourself up for what you're unable to do. 
  • There isn't a good job or bad job you just need to be real and honest about it. 

9. Do you find one area is superseding income targets that is then subsidising the lower income sites?

  • CCM Gorton, a church site in a poor area with low-income families, funded a site to be planted into a more middle class area. There is an important principle in giving away. 
  • There is no correlation between how much a site spends and gets. 
  • The interdependent nature of the multi-site church means that there are some sites that give a lot more which is then spent on other places. That is important for their church narrative. Poorer areas where there is a site know that their money is being used to help other sites.