Category: Church-Planting

Time to Plant Conference

PFC3708 Time to Plant ad - 92.5x126 for HUB

I am really excited to be attending this upcoming conference in London and really honoured to be one of the seminar speakers!

If you are involved / interested in church planting then I heartily recommend you come and join with us at Time to Plant in London on Thursday 25th June.

You can book your tickets here.

Hope to see you there.

A29 Conference: Behold the Man

One of the greatest blessings I have enjoyed in my 7 years of church planting has been my involvement in the Acts 29 church planting network. The quality of brotherhood, support, teaching and resourcing has been invaluable to both myself, Michelle and our church family. Therefore one of the highlights of the year is always the annual conference.

This year the conference, Behold the Man, is due to be held in Nottingham and promises to be a great few days:

If you are involved or interested in church planting, especially in a European context, then I want to seriously encourage you to get yourself booked in. More information about the conference can be found here.

Look forward to seeing some of you there!

Jump School Kickstarter


I have many friends in church planting circles, but my friend Peyton Jones is among the best!

His passion for Christ, coupled with his love for planting and planters means that he’s always got something up his sleeve, and today I want to tell you about the latest thing…and to ask you to get behind it if you can!

Here’s the lowdown…

Jump School is a church planter core team training series. It will give your core team the training they need in 6 easy steps.

As a church planter trainer, the most commonly asked question by planters that I get is “How do I train my core team?”

My name is Peyton Jones and I’m a serial church planter. I plant a church, raise up leadership and move on to plant up another church. In addition, I help planters in all parts of the world plant their church.

This video series uses a World War 2 theme where we will be following a team of paratroopers as they jump into Normandy to free enemy captives and take No Man’s Land.

During these six training videos I will walk you through essential core team training.

You will be able to show these videos to your team of planters, ensuring that they are equipped, ready to plant, ready to Jump!

The 6 part series focuses on evangelism, getting your priorities right, understanding the need for the Spirit’s power, and various other topics.

The goal of this project is to advance the kingdom of God rapidly, not stuff somebody’s pockets.

My upcoming book “Jump School: Unleashing Gospel Commandos on an Unsuspecting World” will serve as a leader’s manual to the church planter.

In addition, I will be producing a study guide as a resource for your core team.

Here is a sample of an unfinished episode:

If you like the look of the project and want to be part of getting Jump School off the ground, why not head over to the Kickstarter page and pledge your wedge?





If I was going to plant again…

>> I would be far more careful about who I encouraged to join the church

This is probably…definitely…the most controversial post in this mini-series!

Basically, EVERY planter wants to see their church plant grow. This invariably involves people joining the church, and there are some totally legit ways that people can join.

Legit ways to join a church:

1. Procreation: Having babies is arguably the most fun way to grow a church! As a family we ensured that Hill City grew by 100% purely through procreation!

2. Salvation: This should be the goal of every church plant – to grow as people respond to the gospel and are born again, being added to the church.

3. Relocation: People have to relocate for all kinds of reasons – work, family, changing circumstances etc. Oftentimes this will mean moving away from one church and wanting to reconnect with a new church family that is more local to them.

4. Commission: Sometimes Christians might move from one local church to another for the purpose of mission. This could be because a certain job or ministry position has opened up or there is a clear call from God. In both cases it is good and godly to for the ‘sending’ church to both recognise the call and commission the Christian and their family to go with their blessing and support.

However, there are also some not-so-legit ways to join a church and we should be far more wary of these.





If I was going to plant again…

>> I would be far less bothered by what others are doing

I think it was Theodore Roosevelt who said that “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

For what it’s worth, I agree with him!

This is especially true when it comes to church planting. I’d like to think that when I planted Hill City 7 years ago I was a man so gripped by God’s plan that nothing and no one could distract or discourage me from the task in hand…but that would be far from the truth!

In reality, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and everywhere I turned I seemed to be surrounded by leaders who were better than me, churches that were bigger than mine and ministries that seemed far more fruitful. On top of all that were the countless books I read that were written by theological gurus and missional masterminds. The podcast preachers who felt the need to tell me (along with their thousands of online listeners) about the hundreds of new converts they were baptising every month. The church plant down the road that, despite being even newer than mine, seemed to be growing twice as fast and was the new talk of the town! Websites that were more impressive. Ministries that were knocking out awesome media content for fun. Churches that had a worship band (not just a dude with a guitar!) In truth all those things got to me. I started thinking things like:

“If we had a band, we’d have far more people coming”

“Video guy…we NEED a video guy!”

“If only Piper could hear me preach right now!

Comparison had crept up on me and, just like Roosevelt said, it was robbing my joy.

The crazy thing is that for a church plant that had started in a house with just myself, my wife, our daughter and a dog, we were doing OK! The growth wasn’t explosive, but neither were we haemorrhaging folk. Our website wasn’t spectacular, but it was certainly functional (and we were one of the only churches in the valley to even have a website!) My preaching was quite strong, creative and above all – faithful to the gospel. And Michelle remains one of the most anointed worship leaders I know. So why was I allowing myself to get so distracted and discouraged?

I guess it’s a bit like what sprinters have to deal with.

When you see those 8 men/women lining up on the start line you see 8 athletes with steel-eyed focus staring straight ahead. They are not concerning themselves with what is happening in the 7 other lanes – they are focussed solely on executing their game plan in their lane. How many times have you heard the winning athlete say something along the lines of “I just got in the zone and ran my race”?

I think that’s what the Apostle Paul was getting at in 2 Timothy 4 v 5 when he charged his young protege, Timothy: “Fulfil YOUR ministry”

Timothy had a unique calling on his life. Sure, he served the same Saviour as Paul, was called to preach the same gospel as Paul, was filled with the same Holy Spirit as Paul and had plenty to learn from the wiser, more experienced apostle. BUT, when all was said and done, he still had to fulfil his ministry. He had to forget all other distractions that surrounded him and focus on running his race in his lane.

There’s a lesson in there for all of us church planters! It’s taken me a lot longer than it should have, and I confess that I’m still prone to glance across to the high-profile preacher podcasting on one side of me, or the pastor of the bigger church planted on the other side. But God has given me a unique game plan to execute. Those guys have to fulfil their ministry. I have to fulfil mine.

I’m likely never going to influence as many people as John Piper or Tim Keller. And that’s OK. They’re likely never going to move to Trevethin and seek to make Christ known in this beautiful, broken valley.

That’s my call.

My lane.

My race to run.

I’m done with making joy-sapping, faith-wrecking, ego-stroking comparisons. God bless all them other runners. I pray that we all stay in lane, give it our all and that we all get safely across the finish line.

And I’m thankful that when we do cross that line we’re not going to be asked “how many were in your church?” “How slick was your website?” Or “How rocking was your band?”

All we’re going to hear is “Well done, good and faithful servant…Enter into the joy of your master.” And that’s good enough for me.

If I was going to plant again… I’d like to think that I would be far less bothered by what others are doing – I’d just get my head down and crack on!

Stay tuned for If I was going to plant again…(Part 4)



This is the second part of a short church planting mini-series. You can read the first post here.

If I was going to plant again…

1. I wouldn’t start with a vision for what the Sunday ‘event’ should look like

When I planted Hill City it’s fair to say that I didn’t have a clue what the dickens I was doing. The vision didn’t really go much further than “Love God and tell everyone about Jesus”. If there was one thing that I did have it was a clear idea of what the Sunday event would look like. Admittedly, I knew that our core team needed to grow beyond the the “2 adults, a baby and a pit-bull in the living room” phase before my “vision” could be realised. But I knew what the goal was – a windowless basement venue, dark walls, grungey artwork, a LOUD sound system, a smoke machine and a gnarly pulpit crafted out of solid Welsh oak (honest!) The church would consist largely of drug-addicts, criminals, single mothers and psychopaths (all of whom would be leading the church within a few years). I guess I envisaged a Sunday event that looked remarkably similar to Adullam’s cave.

But I really didn’t have much of a vision beyond that.


For those who’ve ever attended a Sunday gathering at Hill City, you’ll know that very little, if any of the decor I dreamt up has ever been realised (not even the pulpit!) And while we are blessed to have ex-addicts, single mums and former criminals in our church family, we also have those who are wealthy, married, professional, elderly and spiritually mature too! For what it’s worth, I think that God’s vision for our Sunday gatherings is far better than my plan. But I also acknowledge that I missed something MASSIVE in those early days – namely that there’s A LOT more to church planting than the Sunday event. In fact, the Sunday gathering should almost be an afterthought – the logical outworking and expression of the church whose DNA was already being established behind the scenes.

A few weeks ago my eldest son, Josiah, excitedly reported to us that he’d learned something important. In his own words, he had discovered that “church isn’t a building – it’s people standing on each other’s heads!” Not sure where he got that from, but he was probably closer to what church is really about than I initially was! Church is about Jesus and His people, not buildings, programmes or Sunday events! Certainly when Jesus said “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16 v 18) He was not talking about a physical building with staging and a smoke machine. He was talking about His people, His body – the church!

If I was going to plant again, I’d start with a vision of Jesus and His bride and let everything else flow from that!


If I was going to plant again… (Part 1)


It’s almost 7 years since my family and I moved to Trevethin to plant Hill City Church – and it’s been a roller coaster of a ride! In many ways the church that I now lead looks very different to the church that I dreamed of as a young inexperienced, arrogant gospel ranter.

That’s not a bad thing by the way!

However, for various reasons I’ve been thinking a lot recently about leadership and church planting, not least because I am being increasingly asked about it by other pastors and church planters. And what I have concluded is this – if I was going to plant again…I would do a lot of things very differently! So I’ve decided to write a series of blog posts to expound on this further. Please know that I am not writing these posts from a place of guilt or regret – I have repented much and received much grace for the many mistakes I have made. Rather, the purpose of these posts is to share some of the hard lessons I’ve learned along the way, in the hope that it might help others to not make the same mistakes!

This series will by no means be an exhaustive list, but for what it’s worth…

if I was going to plant again…

1. I wouldn’t do it on my own!

I think the only reason that God allowed me and Michelle to start a church on our own (it was 5 months until ANYONE else joined us!) was so that I could tell others what a STUPID idea it is! If I’m being honest, I know that my motive was a dangerous combination of pride and fear. Pride – because I honestly thought I could do it alone. Fear – because I couldn’t face the thought of the church plant failing! I honestly went into the church plant with a mindset than if it was just the 2 of us, then barring death or divorce the church could only grow!

I have since come to realise that the New Testament model of church planting is missional teams, not maverick hot-heads. Jesus never sent His disciples out in anything less than pairs, and it seems that more often than not Paul was either on mission with, or in jail with at least one other brother!

God graciously didn’t allow me to blow up or die alone in the trenches, but going it alone was neither wise or godly and I definitely wouldn’t do it again!

2. I wouldn’t be the guy who does everything

As I mentioned above I recognise that pride was a real problem. In the early stages I was the guy who did everything – the stuff you’d expect a planter to do like preaching, outreach, pastoral care, writing prayer letters etc., but also most of the other stuff too – making coffee, designing leaflets, setting up bank accounts etc. This was probably partly due to the fact that I was stupid enough to start with no other help (see above!) but also because I wanted to be wanted, or perhaps more truthfully – I needed to be needed! The root of this is pride.

One of the things that I find most compelling about Jesus is that He was committed to involving others in His ministry, like the time when His disciples were flapping because they were surrounded by 5000 hungry mouths. Jesus’ response: “you give them something to eat.” (Matthew 14 v 16) Sure, Jesus did the miracle, but He didn’t need to be the guy dishing out the loaves and fishes.

If Jesus didn’t need to be the guy who does everything, neither do I!

3. I’d be far more intentional in raising up leaders from the start

For several years the thought of releasing others into leadership didn’t even cross my mind. This was partly because I wanted to be the guy who does everything (see above) but also because I merely viewed others as a being a means to fulfilling my ministry, rather than seeing my ministry as existing to empower and equip others to be all that God has called them to be. How shameful! And how different to Jesus who, within a few verses of starting His ministry, was trekking down the beach calling others to follow Him on a mission to change the world (Matthew 4 v 18-19).

We are now seven (humbling) years into the Hill City adventure, and I am privileged to lead alongside 2 fantastic elders whose skill-sets and convictions make the church’s leadership far stronger than it ever would have been with just me at the helm. Similarly there are several other men and women in the church who are simply more gifted than I am and are now involved in serving in various leadership roles. I now see how vital the task of raising up leaders really is.

We’re getting there now…but we should have got there a lot sooner!

4. I’d place a much greater emphasis on prayer

At Hill City we have recently sought to ramp up the prayer life of the church. As the man who planted Hill City I was responsible for establishing the vision and values and setting the tone for the church. If I’m being brutally honest I don’t think I dug the foundations of prayer deep enough at Hill City in the formative stages. Rather than prioritising and persevering in the anonymous and unglamorous work of prayer, I was preoccupied with doing other ministry stuff that was tangible to others and that I thought would deliver immediate results. This was a prideful, stupid mistake.

In Mark 1 v 35-39 we see Jesus getting up early to pray before a busy day of ministry. His prayer life was such that His disciples were provoked to ask Him “Lord, teach us to pray.” (Luke 11 v 1) And as He contemplated the horrors of the cross in the shadows of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed (Mark 14 v 32). Incredibly, He was even praying as they crucified Him (Luke 23 v 34). After His ascension, Jesus’ disciples gathered to pray (Acts 1 v 14). The Holy Spirit came, the church started to grow and as persecution arose – the Apostles headed straight to a prayer meeting! (Acts 4 v 23-24)

If Jesus and the early Spirit-filled church needed to pray – how much more does a flawed little valley boy trying to plant a church?!

A prayer-less church is like a Ferrari without an engine. It might look good from the outside, but it ain’t going nowhere!


These are just some of the things I would do differently.

Stay tuned for If I was going to plant again… (Part 2)

Do not quit!

It’s been a difficult week this week.

One of those weeks when the pressure of ministry is crushing and the temptation to throw in the towel is very real. Which is why it’s kinda funny that I got a timely kick in the pants today…from myself!

The way it transpired was that at some point last year (genuinely can’t remember when!) I was at an Acts 29 event in Sheffield and was asked to record a short video to encourage church planters. So I did. However, I never heard any more of it and clean forgot about it.

That is, until today, when it popped up in my Twitter feed courtesy of the Acts 29 Europe media team. You can see the video below. As you can tell my motive was to give a shot of gospel challenge and brotherly encouragement to any poor, battle weary church planters out there who might be in need of it.

Church planters like me!

Introducing: SixtyEightFive

At last year’s Acts 29 Europe BootCamp in Cardiff I met a legendary bloke called Ian Williamson. Ian is man who is full of Jesus and has a passion for seeing the gospel take root on the estates of Middlesborough (find out more about the church that he recently planted up there here.) He also runs a fantastic ministry called SixtyEightFive. Here’s the lowdown:

Psalm 68 verse five, speaks of God being a father to the fatherless and this is where the charity, SixtyEightfive takes its name. Working in some of the most deprived wards in the country SixtyEightFive seeks to promote and support the role of fathers whilst providing positive male role models to men and boys who have been raised in a fatherless environment

By working closely with and supporting local schools/colleges, churches and community groups, SixtyEightFive provides a number of services including;
Community Chaplaincy
Youth Work
Supporting Fathers

Here’s a short film that serves as a great introduction to SixtyEightFive:


Here’s how I encourage you to engage with the video:

  • Watch it.
  • Pray for the ministry.
  • Pray for Ian and his family.
  • Pray for Middlesborough (could God be calling you to join the mission up there?)
  • Share it.