What is the Assessment Process actually like?

Well, fortunately it’s nothing nearly as intimidating as this graphic might portray. Our assessors are themselves, experienced church planters, trained interviewers and they are really friendly people, too!

The process itself will involve a day-long interview and conversation with the assessors. This will take about 5-7 hours with breaks as needed and also an hour for lunch.

We’re going to be asking a lot of questions to gather specific data about your skills, abilities, and experience in 13 different categories. There are no wrong answers. We are only looking to understand you: how you behave and what you have done in order to understand what you might do in the future. The principle at play here is, “Past performance is an effective indicator of immediate future action.” The more data points we collect in our conversation together, the more valuable the final report becomes in determining next steps for you as a church planter. No planter will excel in every category. But the process will identify those areas you are especially skilled in, and those that might need some focus and extra support. Missional Challenge is here through your entire process to help you put all of that together to ensure a successful and fruitful ministry.

Then, about 10 to 14 days after the interview, the assessors will provide full and detailed report with ratings and comments for each of the 13 categories, and overall rating, an assessment of strengths and weaknesses, and recommendations for moving forward.

Here are the 13 categories as defined by Dr. Charles Ridley that we will be focusing on during our interview together.

Charles Ridley’s 13 Factors for Successful Church Planters

Pastors engaged in church planting may find this material helpful as they go back through a reassessment of their own skills, gifts, and calling.

Dr. Charles Ridley’s church planter evaluation work was done at Indiana University in the 90s.

In evaluating church planters, Dr. Ridley identified 13 factors that were key to successful church plants. They are:

  1. Visioning Capacity
  • being a person who projects into the future beyond the present
  • developing a theme which highlights the vision and philosophy of ministry
  • persuasively selling the vision to the people
  • approaching challenges as opportunities rather than obstacles
  • coping effectively with non-visioning elements
  • not erecting artificial walls or limits either overtly or subconsciously
  • establishing a clear church identity related to the theme and vision
  • believing in God’s capacity to do great things
  1. Intrinsically Motivated
  • having a desire to do well and a commitment to excellence
  • stick-to-itiveness and persistence
  • having initiative and aggressiveness without the negative connotations
  • having a willingness to work long and hard
  • being a self-starter with a willingness to build from nothing
  • having a high energy and vitality level; physical stamina
  1. Creates Ownership of Ministry
  • helping people to “buy in” and feel responsible for the growth and success of the church
  • gaining commitment of the people to the vision
  • establishing a congregational identity
  • avoiding stereotyping of congregation by imposing unrealistic goals for which it cannot claim ownership
  1. Relates to the Unchurched
  • communicating in style that is understood by the unchurched
  • understanding the “psychology” or mentality of the unchurched
  • moving and functioning in the “personal space” of the unchurched without fear
  • quickly getting to know the unchurched on a personal level
  • breaking through the barriers erected by the unchurched
  • handling crises faced by the unchurched
  1. Spousal Cooperation
  • having an explicit agreement regarding each partner’s respective role and involvement in ministry
  • having explicit rules regarding the use of home as an office
  • evaluating the consequences of ministry demands upon the children
  • functioning as a team through individual and collective action
  • having a strategy for dealing with strangers
  • modeling wholesome family life before church and community
  • agreeing upon and sharing the ministry vision
  • deliberately planning and protecting private family life
  1. Effectively Builds Relationships
  • responding with urgency to expressed needs and concerns of people
  • displaying Godly love and compassion to people
  • getting to know people on a personal basis
  • making others feel secure and comfortable in one’s presence
  • not responding judgmentally or prejudicially to new people
  • appreciating and accepting a variety of persons
  • spending quality time with present parishioners without overstepping them for new people
  1. Committed to Church Growth
  • believing in church growth as a theological principle
  • appreciating steady and consistent growth without preoccupation with the quick success factor
  • committing to numerical growth within the context of spiritual and relational growth (more and better disciples)
  • recognizing that non-growth is threatening and self-defeating
  • establishing the goal of becoming a financially self-supporting church within a specific period of time
  • not prematurely falling into a ministry of maintenance
  • seeing the church project within the larger context of God’s kingdom
  1. Responsive to Community
  • understanding the culture of the community
  • identifying and assessing community needs
  • responding to community needs on a priority basis such that resources are most efficiently used
  • determining successes and failures of other organized religious attempts to respond to community needs
  • not confusing what the community needs with what the church wants to offer
  • acquiring and understanding of the character and “pulse” of the community
  • adapting the philosophy of ministry to the character of the community
  1. Utilizes Giftedness of Others
  • releasing and equipping people to do the task of ministry
  • discerning of spiritual gifts in others
  • matching the gifts of people with ministry needs and opportunities
  • delegating effectively in areas of personal limitation
  • avoiding personal overload by delegating effectively
  • not prematurely assigning ministry assignments before people are adequately equipped
  • not placing unwarranted restrictions on other’s spiritual giftedness
  1. Flexible and Adaptable
  • coping effectively with ambiguity
  • coping effectively with constant and abrupt change
  • adapting oneself and one’s methods to the uniqueness of the particular church planting project
  • shifting priorities and emphasis during various stages of church growth
  • doing “whatever” is necessary “whenever” necessary
  1. Builds Group Cohesiveness
  • developing a nucleus group or groups as a foundation
  • quickly incorporating newcomers into a network of relationships
  • engaging others in meaningful church activity
  • monitoring the morale of people
  • utilizing groups effectively
  • dealing with conflict assertively, constructively and tactfully
  1. Resilience
  • experiencing setbacks without defeat
  • riding the ups and downs (i.e. attendance)
  • expecting the unexpected
  • rebounding from loss, disappointments and failure
  1. Exercises Faith
  • possessing a conviction regarding one’s call to church planting ministry
  • believing in God’s action
  • having expectation and hope
  • having a willingness to wait for answers to specific prayer requests