Church Planting Assessment Center helps California church find the tools to thrive

Ben Greene

Pastor & writer

  • Church planting & multiplication

José Magaña’s church was young and stuck. 


He learned to lead by watching his parents run farms with 300 workers. Then, he owned a successful business. He knew how to overcome many challenges.  


So why was the church’s attendance bouncing up and down? 


“I don’t care what we did, we were not growing,” he said. 


But, a year and a half ago, the church got past the stuck spot at a Converge Church Planting Assessment Center. Magaña participated in the four-day experience where Converge surrounds pastors with trained church leaders. Together, they discover how to start and sustain a thriving church. 


“They train you to do that,” he said. “They give you the tools to learn all that.” 


During the assessment, potential church planters study their communities, including average salaries, the population, races, ethnicities and other demographics. Calvary Church gained momentum and direction when they better understood Turlock, California’s, realities. 


“We were not passing that line [of attendance] until we found out what the community needed,” he said. 


The gathering also requires pastors to research the number of churches in the area. After that, a pastor considers how a church can faithfully but uniquely offer God’s grace and truth. Potential church planters also have to discover their church's financial viability and gain wisdom about potential meeting sites. 


“We don’t know who we are,” without an assessment, Magaña learned 18 months ago. “It really opened our eyes.” 


Calvary may have been a stuck, mostly unknown church in the city of 100,000. But now the church has two Spanish services and one English service, and it may soon need a third Spanish service.  


Related: Hear the rest of Calvary’s story and learn more about the area’s spiritual needs. 


“It’s just amazing what’s happening here,” he said. “[The community] finally started noticing who Calvary Church is a year and a half ago.” 


A significant reason for their excellent reputation is the Mana ministry, an outreach of Calvary believers that supplies 3200 people with food every week. 


“That was a necessity my town needed,” he said.  


But he wouldn’t have known about it without doing research during a church planting assessment center. So he tells every church leader  — whether an established church, a new congregation or a merger — that they should participate in a Converge assessment. 


Magaña said Converge embraces diverse ministries across the nation. Calvary Church hosted the most recent assessment, which included church planters speaking four different languages and serving several people groups. 


Related: See the support Converge has for potential church planters and start the adventure. 


“At the end of the day, when we finish, you’re going to realize why are you here,” he tells people at assessments. “It’s going to be a big tool that’s going to help you.” 


Converge’s 10 districts have committed to deploying 312 church planters before 2026. Read more inspiring church planting stories and learn about the goal to send out 312 church planters in five years.

Ben Greene, Pastor & writer

Ben Greene is a freelance writer and pastor currently living in Massachusetts. Along with his ministry experience, he has served as a full-time writer for the Associated Press and in the newspaper industry.

Additional articles by Ben Greene