Church planting is difficult for the most qualified pastors and nearly impossible for those unqualified. If church-planting pastors do not have the essential tools for the job, they will frustrate themselves and everyone around them. Our desire is to equip and encourage pastors and their families to lead in a way that magnifies the gospel in every area of their lives.
Every endeavor requires a set of fundamental skills necessary to accomplish the task with excellence. For instance, the competencies of a successful basketball player are consistent. They can all dribble, shoot, pass, play defense, rebound, play as a team, think and move quickly. They are coachable and competitive. They don’t have to exercise all of these competencies at the same level, but all of these qualities characterize a successful player at the highest level.
Church planters similarly have qualities or competencies that determine their God-given capacity to plant a reproducing church. A competency is the dynamic interplay of knowledge, understanding, skills, values, attitudes and passion. For instance, a church planter may have the necessary knowledge, understanding and skill to communicate the gospel but they may not demonstrate an attitude of joy and passion to reach the unchurched. Others may have the right passion and values of the gospel in their lives but cannot communicate the elements of the gospel effectively or lead a team of people. All dimensions of a church planter are essential to ensure that an effective gospel-centered, Spirit-led, mission-focused church plant has the viability to survive.
One of the greatest responsibilities of C2C and USMB, as we partner together for church planting, is the careful and prayerful evaluation of potential church planters. The motivation for a formal church planter assessment is three-fold:
For the glory of God. God is glorified with the multiplication of his bride, the church. We strongly desire church planters who are much more interested in the glory of God than their own glory.
For the multiplication of disciples. The goal of church planting is not just to add churches but also to multiply disciples. We look for church planters who are passionately committed to model disciple-making and to equip others to make disciples.
For the health of the church planter and the church planter’s family. The assessment is not just to determine if they can plant a church but if it is the best thing for their family at this time. Pastoring a church shines a light on a person’s spiritual, emotional and relational maturity or lack thereof. We strongly encourage planter candidates to walk in the light (1 John 1:5-10) as much as possible during the assessment in order for a true evaluation to occur for the health of the planter. Transparency throughout the assessment process is critical for receiving an accurate assessment of their competencies.
This article is adapted from a portion of the C2C Assessment Manual called “Discerning the Call.”
Scott Thomas is the director of C2C U.S. He has served over 35 years as a lead church planter and church re-planter and as a board member of three international church planting networks. Thomas is also the author of Gospel Coach: Shepherding Leaders to Glorify God, published by Zondervan in 2012. He and his wife, Jeanine, live in Nashville, Tennessee.