2.7 Church Planter Assessment

The Church Planter Assessment (CPA) is a key element of the Discernment Cycle. It consists of an in-situ observation and behavioural interview designed to identify the necessary character, calling, competencies and connections of a potential church planter. The assessment will be conducted by a Gen1K Church Planting representative and a representative from the regional network. It will go for approximately 3 hours and be divided into two parts:

1) in-situ observation
2) behavioural interview

In-situ observation

The potential church planter will be asked to take the two Assessors on a tour of their intended location or network. This part of the assessment will go for approximately 1 hour. The aim is to observe how the potential planter knows and relates to their community.

Behavioural interview

Following the in-situ observation, the potential church planter, and their spouse if they are married, will have a behavioural interview based on the character, calling, competencies and connections of a fruitful church planter. This part of the assessment will go for approximately 2 hours. The aim is to gain insight into past behaviour, as this is often a good indicator of future behaviour.

So, what are the character, calling, competencies and connections of a fruitful church planter?

The Behavioural Interview is based on 13 key competencies that have been incorporated into different headings below. You can find out more about each area by clicking the drop down bar and trying some sample questions.

Embodies a Christlike Character

A fruitful church planter has a persona lifestyle of worship and intimacy with God:

The planter must have evidence of a strong lifestyle of worship and intimacy with God. It was through worship, fasting and prayer that the Holy Spirit confirmed to Paul, Barnabas and the church in Antioch that they were to be sent as missionaries. The heart habits in which one learns to walk in God’s presence and hear God for themselves have to be developed to be sent out to plant. A vital spiritual life is fundamental to all other components and the “well” out of which ministry must flow for years to come. If that well is dry or has never been dug properly, the spiritual resources so desperately needed in church planting will be inadequate to the task that will be required in the days ahead.

Here are sample questions we ask to determine whether the potential church planter exercises a sense of call:

  • Describe your relationship with God.
  • How have you responded to seasons in your life that have been emotionally, physically, or spiritually difficult?
  • What spiritual disciplines have you practiced? As a general rule, how much time a day do you set aside for prayer, worship, and meditating on God’s Word?
  • How do you balance the demands of ministry and your own spiritual growth?
  • Are there any areas of your life or character that is a blockage in your relationship with God or others?

A fruitful church planter has a healthy relationship with self and others:

The greatest commandment highlights the need for a healthy relationship with God, self and others. For a married church planter, this involves a solid marriage and family life, with a spouse who supports and agrees with God’s call to church planting. There also needs to be a shared understanding of the type and level of involvement with the new church.
For a church planter who is single, there is the need for a committed group of supportive friends, a spiritual family in Christ. A church planter with a healthy relationship with self will recognise their need for others, but understand that God is the source of life. This allows them to stay calm and clear headed in the face of conflict, criticism, and rejection, alongside the strong practice of healthy boundaries.

Here are sample questions we ask to determine whether the potential church planter embodies a Christlike character:

  • If married, what convictions do you and your spouse share regarding your respective roles in ministry and call to church planting? How did you arrive at these convictions?
  • If married, what discrepancies or disagreements do you and your spouse have regarding ministry? How do you cope with these, and what efforts have you made to resolve them?
  • If single, how well developed are your friendships? Who do you look to as your main source of emotional support?
  • List the different types of relationships you have and describe healthy boundaries for each of these.
  • How do you balance the demands of ministry with the needs of your family and friends?

A fruitful church planter adjusts to changes, challenges, and correction:

The church planter must have the tenacity and desire to adjust to changes, challenges and corrections. This means they have a track record of learning from their mistakes and attempting it again. Are they teachable? Do they have it in them to overcome failure and return? As changes, challenges, mistakes and failures are all one piece of the experience of church planting, these characteristics must be present for the planter to survive.

Here are sample questions we ask to determine whether the potential church planter embodies a Christlike character:

  • Have you ever had your integrity challenged or your motives questioned? If so, how did you handle it?
  • How do you deal with people you feel are difficult? How have you handled someone quitting or not following through on a commitment?
  • Explain a time when you received correction from one of your leaders. How did you
  • How do they handle crisis situations? To what degree are you able to maintain a positive attitude? What is one of the most painful experiences you’ve had? How has this affected your life?

 A fruitful church planter with the Baptist movement has an understanding and familiarity with our values:

As the church planter desires to reproduce a Baptist church, they must understand firsthand the essential values of our movement. Core values are the building blocks on which we build our lives, our relationships and our actions. Every person has core values that define who they are and without realising it, control who they become. Our core values are:

  1. Christ centred 
  2. Mission shaped
  3. Relationally committed
  4. People empowering 
  5. Partnership oriented 

Here are sample questions we ask to determine whether the potential church planter embodies a Christlike character:

  • What exposure have you had to Baptist values and beliefs?
  • What values of the Baptist movement are most important to you?
  • Are you familiar with the Core Five Values (link) and Statement of Belief (link)? To what extent do you agree with them?
  • Describe your experiences with the Baptist movement. How well do you feel the Baptists fits with who you are?
Exercises a Sense of Call

A fruitful church planter has a clear sense of calling and confirmation from leaders:

Church planting can be incredibly difficult. The decision to plant will often be deeply and sometimes painfully tested. Often in the midst of hard times, when growth is slow, leaders you’ve developed decide to leave and the next steps forward seem very unclear. It is during these times that the planter will only endure if they have the sure, unshakeable conviction that, “despite what I’m experiencing now, God has called me to this!”

Such a calling runs deeper than thinking church planting is just a “great idea” or something you “try out” like you would a diet. In contrary, church planting is such an enormous venture that it requires a clarity of calling that, while not immune to doubt, provides the foundation for tenacity in the midst of adversity and disappointment.

Here are sample questions we ask to determine whether the potential church planter exercises a sense of call:

  • What has led you to feel a call to pursue church planting? How have others confirmed your interest in church planting?
  • What city, location, and/or type of target group do you anticipate ministering among? How does this fit with your upbringing, church experience, etc.?
  • What makes you want to be a Baptist church?
  • What are some examples of times when you have taken initiative to begin and follow through with a project or ministry?
  • What is your gut feeling or emotional response when you think about the risks involved in planting a church (i.e., finances, family, emotional stress, etc.)?

A fruitful church planter has a vision and clear philosophy of ministry:

As the God-given ability to “see” what could be, vision is an essential part of the spiritual gift of leadership and call to church planting. It is the necessary component needed to cast a compelling vision for a church that inspires others to want to join. It not only draws people to what lies ahead, however, vision also communicates and clearly articulates the path to that destination. In that light, simply wanting to “plant a church” is not a “faith-driven, inspiring vision.” You must ask the questions: “What kind of church? What will it look like? What kind of people will it reach? How will I gather people to get on board with that vision?” A church planter must not only be able to describe what kind of church they desire to plant, but they must be able to articulate it in a way that engenders faith, honours God and inspires other people to get on board.

Here are sample questions we ask to determine whether the potential church planter exercises a sense of call:

  • What kind of church do you envision? How does this compare with your current/ past church experiences?
  • Describe any experience you’ve had in organizing and leading teams of people?
  • How have you inspired or excited people about an area of ministry or project in which you were involved (i.e., business or school project, small group, prayer team, mission trip, youth group, etc.)?
  • How would you answer someone who’s asking you “why plant a new church”?
  • Describe the role that prayer, fasting, Bible study, etc have played in your life in overcoming individual or corporate challenges?
Exhibits Church Planting Competencies

A fruitful church planter creates opportunities to develop leaders and give ministry away:

The undeniable truth is, it takes a person with a certain mix of gifts and catalytic abilities to pull off planting a church. Among the most important qualities that they must possess is the ability to make disciples who make disciples and develop leaders who develop leaders. If a church planter can lead people to Christ and nurture them, but at the same time cannot develop and lead leaders, they will not be able to build much more than a large home group. The church will never grow beyond what the church planter themselves can directly oversee and lead.

Here are sample questions we ask to determine whether the potential church planter exhibits church planting competencies:

  • What are the characteristics of a disciple and how would you build these characteristics into the life of a new believer?
  • Give an example of the type of small groups or ministries you have led? How did you train and release other to serve and lead in the group?
  • How would you decide which areas of ministry individuals in a new church plant should participate in?
  • Explain a time when you have had to correct or confront someone about an area in his or her life? What was it like for them?
  • How do you cultivate giftedness in others?
  • How were you developed as a leader? What opportunities were you given? What can you learn from this process? How are you applying that with others now?

A fruitful church planter applies scripture in a genuine and effective manner:

A church planter needs to show the ability to communicate and apply Scripture in a compelling way. Keeping in mind that people have varying levels of skill and style in this area, requiring healthy communication skills does not mean requiring the planter to deliver “sermonic pyrotechnics” or have the verbal affluence of those leading America’s largest churches. Yet, it is clearly evident that church leadership is a communication-intensive enterprise and that healthy church culture is created through effective communication. Having this ability does not mean they are great and does not mean that they will improved significantly or even dramatically during their first few years of ministry. But it does mean that, as a leader, they are tasked as one who preaches the Word. And as Scripture unyieldingly recognizes, a pastor must be “able to teach” (1 Tim 3:2).

Here are sample questions we ask to determine whether the potential church planter exhibits church planting competencies:

  • Explain what training or experience you’ve had in teaching or preaching? At what point is their progress in understanding and teaching the Bible?
  • How would you describe your style of teaching? What are areas that you would like to improve?
  • How would you combine careful planning and listening to God to decide their topics and approach to teaching?
  • How well are you able to talk about your thoughts and feelings with others?

A fruitful church planter demonstrates strategic thinking:

As church planting itself is a very large, long-term project, the church planter must show capabilities of being able to plan out such large, long-term projects in a prayerful and intentional way. Too often people begin a church plant only being able to envision and have clarity to pursue the first few steps without a big-picture idea of exactly what it is they’re trying to build. It might also be that, while they have a big-picture vision, they may lack the abilities to strategically and measurably plan the concrete steps necessary to carry out that vision. Similarly, some people have mistaken notions regarding the role of planning. Rather than recognizing the Biblical mandate for human plans done under the leading of the Holy Spirit, the counsel of others, in submission to the sovereignty of God, they take a more “mystical” or “spiritualist” approach which suggests that “planning” is somehow contrary to faith or walking in the Spirit. Our understanding, however, is that such an approach is neither wise nor Biblical and that the best planters are those who pray for God’s direction ahead of time, plan prayerfully and then execute the plans.

Here are sample questions we ask to determine whether the potential church planter exhibits church planting competencies:

  • How do you currently manage your own time? What have you found to be the best process for you in planning and implementation?
  • How would you make decisions in church planting? How do you respond to opposition to your plans?
  • Based on your needs, personality, and gifts what kinds of leaders do you need to place around you to be more effective?
  • What would be your top priorities for the first two years of church planting?
  • How good are you at seeking God for answers, asking for advice, and getting more training?

A fruitful church planter understands ad practices good stewardship:

Church planting doesn’t require you to be a financial genius, but it does require that one knows how to handles money wisely and has a realistic understanding of the financial needs of a church plant in the beginning years. Debt or irresponsibility with money are prime “plant killers,” as there are typically financial pressures that accompany the first few years of a church plant. Additionally, financial planning and management skills are a must. Many church planters overlook elements that require additional capital in the first year or two of the plant (i.e., buying a sound system, renting space, purchasing children’s ministry supplies, paying for printing and advertising, obtaining necessary office and computer equipment, etc).

Here are sample questions we ask to determine whether the potential church planter exhibits church planting competencies:

  • How do you approach budgeting and spending? What kind of budgeting or financial planning experience have you had?
  • Has personal debt or controlling credit card spending ever been a problem for you?
  • How faithful and consistent would you say you are in giving regular and generous offerings?
  • How comfortable would you say you are with teaching Biblical principles of giving and asking others to financially support the work to which God has called them?
Enacts Meaningful Connections

A fruitful church planter has the ability to gather people and call them into action:
The process of gathering people happens in different ways for different people. Some
accomplish that well through one-on-one conversations where their gifts and attractive
qualities are best revealed. Others find that large groups where they can communicate, teach and cast vision is their natural arena for gathering people. Regardless of what facet is used to express this ability, having the skills to gather people is one of the most fundamental abilities required of a church planter. If the potential church planter experiences difficulties in being able to attract and gather people before planting a church, it is unlikely that they will be able to do it well once they’ve started.

Here are sample questions we ask to determine whether the potential church planter enacts meaningful connections:

  • In what ways have you gathered people into groups, projects or causes in the past
  • What plans would you have for gathering new people in a church plant?
  • How do you build friendships when you are in a new situation?
  • How do you help others develop relationships?
  • What ideas do you have about how you would assimilate newcomers into relationship within a faith community and then get them involved?
  • To what degree does spending time with people give you energy or tire you? If married, are there differences between you and your spouse? How have you dealt with this in the past?
  • How have you been vulnerable or transparent to help others feel free to do the same?
  • Describe a relationship you initiated and built with someone who was radically different from you?

A fruitful church planter shows significant evidence of gathering the unchurched:

The church planter must show evidence of being able to reach the unchurched, the prime
people with whom we hope to grow new churches. As the Baptist movement continues to “up the ante” in this area and intentionally wave the flag of evangelism, we want to identify those potential planters who have a lot of heart and at least some skills for growing churches by way of new believers. While core gifting and skill in evangelism vary from person to person, good news has been discovered by a study conducted by George Barna and included in his book, Evangelism That Works. He found that churches growing by way of new believers were led by senior pastors who do not have the spiritual gift of evangelism. This fascinating and liberating statistic revealed that to have effective evangelism, one must only be passionate about it, which overpowers any natural giftedness and is enough to motivate their churches to be evangelistically focused. They consistently find ways to make heroes out of the natural evangelists and gatherers who are part of their congregations and have worked hard to learn to communicate the gospel in relevant and compelling ways to unbelievers who are coming to their Sunday services.

Here are sample questions we ask to determine whether the potential church planter enacts meaningful connections:

  • Tell me about the last time that you participated in leading someone to Jesus?
  • Describe any experience you have had in training others to lead their friends to Jesus? What approach would you take in a church plant?
  • How do you understanding the pulse and culture of the community in which you live?
  • What kinds of activities or strategies would you use to demonstrate and declare the gospel to your target group or community?

2.2 Online Guided Self-Reflection

It is not appropriate statistically, nor is it wise spiritually, to say if a person can or cannot plant a church. The purpose of the Online Guided Self-Reflection that includes the Lifeway Church Planter Assessment (CPCA) is to help the potential church planter take...

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2.3 Baptist Association Values

Core values are the building blocks on which we build our lives, our relationships and our actions. Every person has core values that define who they are and without realising it, control who they become. As the Baptist Churches of NSW and ACT, we have defined what...

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2.6 Partnership in Marriage and Ministry

  Church planting and marriage health Problems in the church planter’s marriage and family are amongst the major reasons why church plants fail. In church planting, both husband and wife need to affirm their calling to the task. However, within that shared sense...

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