1. Consider the type of planter and attempt to create a profile of a successful church planter.
All church planter assessments are used to predict who can successfully plant a church in a given context.
What does a successful ‘House Church Planter’ look like in your context?
What does a successful ‘Pastoral Church Planter’ look like in your context?
What does a successful ‘Catalytic Church Planter’ look like in your context?
What does a successful ‘Apostolic Church Planter’ look like in your context?
How are successful urban and rural church planters different?
Once a profile has been created, 'Assess' or evaluate candidates and see if they fit the desired profile. The bigger the investment in the church plant (in terms of time, money, and other resources), the more the evaluation needs to be in depth. House church planters grow their churches based mostly upon character and personal relationships. They do not need to be great Bible teachers. Pastoral Church Planters need greater organizing and teaching skills than House Church Planters. Catalytic Church Planters need to have greater vision for multiplication and skills in developing and releasing leaders. They must be able to develop and place others into effective ministry, beginning a multiplication movement. The Apostolic Church Planter must be willing to stand behind other leaders, giving up recognition. They must be visionary and have proven discernment in how to develop others. They must have or learn coaching skills, and sufficient vision and wisdom for creating a multiplication movement.
2. Create a system for evaluating church planters based upon the qualities and skills in the profile.
An overview of Charles Ridley's Church Planter Competencies can be found here.
A) Simple Interview System: An effective and simple evaluation can be often done using interviews based upon behavioral questions, rather than questions about beliefs or plans. The best predictor of future success is not discussing beliefs or future plans, but past experiences, practices and habits.
The interviews last 3 to 4 hours and are done with both the husband and wife if the planter is married.
Two evaluators do the interview together and create a report together.
Sample questions:Tell me about the last time you shared your faith.Who did you share with? How did you meet the person? How did you happen to discuss spiritual things? How did you share the Gospel? Describe the Gospel message that you shared. How did the person respond? What did you do next? Tell me about another time you shared…Tell me about a disciple you are developing. How did you meet them?....Tell me about your marriage (if married). Describe how you do ministry together. Describe a recent conflict in your relationship and how you handled it. What is your prayer life like? Have you ever created and led a team? When? What were the results? Describe another time you were on a team or lead a team...
Two assessors ask behavioral questions covering up to 13 or more areas of both spouses (if the candidate is married) in order to evaluate on a scale of 1 to 10 where the candidates are weak or strong in all the areas considered essential for the type of church that is being planned.
B) Assessment Center System: A deeper and more detailed evaluation can be done with various activities and multiple observers. Assessment centers cost more and are used to assess candidates for urban church plants or other church plants which need extra resources. They often last 3 days. Another type of assessment center brings a number of potential church planters together for a weekend.
Create activities which enable observers to evaluate the candidates' abilities to do important tasks such as sharing the Gospel, preaching a short sermon (prepared in advance or last minute), work as part of team on a project, discuss with others some conflictual question, or create a ministry plan with other candidates. Assessors observe how the candidates respond to others, respond in front of a group, and respond to surprise situations.
Have several pairs of interviewers ask behavioral questions in specific critical areas related to church planting.
Such a time together allows the evaluators to see how the candidate performs tasks individually, in a group, and during interviews.If wives are invited, one can observe the couple working together and relating with others.
C) On site visits and observations of potential church planters: These observations can be made with the help of a leader’s pastor or others who know them well. It is important to first develop a profile of what a successful church planter looks like for the type of church being planted. On site visits can be done by a number of evaluators trained in what to look for. Behavioral questions can also be asked informally with information recorded and shared among those evaluating potential church planters.
D) Trained assessors do the best work. Leaders trained in coaching have learned how to ask good questions and often make good evaluators or assessors. Pairs of assessors or a group of assessors tend to do better work than one assessor who may have positive or negative biases. Evaluating or assessing someone the evaluator knows fairly well or has worked with closely is discouraged. It is too easy to be biased positively or negatively.
E) Give candidates and their leadership a written report of the results of the evaluation. Be gracious! Choose between four possible results: 1) Ready to plant this (describe size, model, etc.) type of church. 2) Ready with Conditions (conditions may be training, need to develop skills, finish education, etc.). The conditions should be able to be met within a reasonable amount of time. (Often up to 2 years. If it would take longer, the person is in category 3.) 3) Further Development Needed (more extensive than conditions, takes more than two years). 4) Cautioned Against Planting (a needed result at times to both protect the planter, their family, and others and to avoid wasting network resources when it is doubtful a healthy church will be planted).
Consider what are the benefits of doing good church planter evaluations?
What are the consequences of creating a church planter profile that is too demanding?
Or creating one that is not demanding enough?