Have you ever considered planting a church?
If so, you probably have asked yourself questions like, Do I have what it takes? or Who would go with me? Those kind of questions are formative questions in the church planting journey. Those kind of questions kickstart a process of evaluating whether or not you would make a good church planter.
However, as with any major life decision, you want confirmation and affirmation from others. And as huge of a step of faith as church planting is, you need it. Having others walk with you in this journey is critical. Obviously, you want those who know you and love you to confirm and affirm this decision. However, you also need some who have “been there, done that” to speak into this. That is where a church planting assessment comes in.
A church planting assessment is a robust, yet life-giving evaluation of your calling and readiness to engage the community where you will be making disciples and planting a church. The end goal is for others to confirm and affirm this with you, along with the church that will be sending you out.
What can you expect for your next step?
Church planting assessments are primarily offered by denominations or church planting networks. Each organization may have a nuanced approach based on the profile they are looking for in a church planter. Even further, every good assessment will zero in on the character, calling, and competencies of the individual.
Most networks use a few tools to assess the candidate couple. Many begin the assessment process by providing an online self-assessment of both the planter candidate and his wife, if married. Some of those assessments are circumspect assessments, meaning they are sent to others you assign, which help align your view of self with how others view you. Another common online assessment is a marriage assessment, if married. These assessments help identify alignment around core relationship values and areas for growth.
Then, as with most all healthy assessments, you will be invited to an in-person type of event that is more interview-centric. These in-person events aim to provide you with an unbiased evaluation from seasoned pastors and leaders. They will conduct personal interviews that are designed to look at how best you fit the profile they are working from. Many times, those leaders will use the online assessments you completed as a starting point for their understanding of you as a planting candidate. Again, these leaders are there to provide the best assessment of you, along with what you may need to developmentally work on prior to planting a church.
What will the assessment look for?
1. Christ-like character
There is not a more critical attribute in the life of a church planter than a deep, abiding life in Christ. Every strong assessment will dig deeply into the life of the candidate to evaluate how their relationship with God impacts their ministry, relationships, and leadership.
You can expect to share how you spend time at the feet of Jesus through Bible reading, study, and prayer. You can expect to talk about your own pursuit of holiness and gospel living. You can expect to share how you view the kingdom of God and how that view impacts your work or ministry.
You can then expect to share how your walk with God affects your relationships. You will be asked how you relate interpersonally with those closest to you and to those you seek to minister to. The questions will dig into the health of those relationships: how you and your spouse relate, how you resolve conflict, the depth of your friendships, and how the rhythms of your life affect those around you.
2. Clarity in calling
The assessors will also want to know more about what has led you to want to plant a church. They want to know that there has been a clear leading from God for you to plant. Whether it is a move across the state, country, or world, they want to know that you have listened to God throughout the process. Many assessments look at how this leading has been affirmed by others, be it a mentor, family and friends, a pastor, or a church leadership team. They want to hear that this ministry calling comes from your intimacy with God.
Vance Pitman, President of the Send Network, says this about this critical link, “God’s primary call on my life in not ministry; it is intimacy. Ministry is what He does out of the overflow of intimacy.” Bottom line, your “calling” to plant a church is birthed out of your daily pursuit of God and His kingdom.
3. Humility in competencies
Whether it is your theological acumen, your persuasive preaching, evangelistic fervor, leadership skills, or lack thereof, a good church planting assessment wants to see a humility that demonstrates a willingness for growth in all of these areas and more.
In most assessment processes, you will be asked to preach or submit a recorded sermon or talk that demonstrates how you handle the Word of God in whatever context you lead. This will provide a glimpse into how you build a message from Scripture and how you relate to your audience. You will also be expected to communicate a theological understanding of the grand narrative of Scripture and core tenets of the doctrines your denomination or network hold to.
You will also be asked about how you engage outsiders with the gospel and other practical leadership skills. Many times, history is an indicator of the future. With that in mind, you will be asked about your prior ministry and leadership experience. Assessors will want to know what discipleship currently looks like for you, what leadership opportunities you have had, and your ability to cast a vision for this new venture you are starting for God’s kingdom.
What can you expect afterward?
After this time of interviews and conversations, there will be a time for assessors and other leaders to discuss your readiness as a future church planter. This prayerful and deliberative time looks at how well you fit the profile of what the team is looking for and what you may need developmentally to move forward. This time may take hours or days to complete before they relay the final decision back to you.
Be encouraged, though! You have humbly submitted yourself to others who want the best for you, and they are there to help you navigate your next step, no matter what it may be. At the end of the day, your faith to walk this part of the journey has been led by God and He will continue to be faithful in the next as well.
Published September 11, 2023