As we continue with our building block series for church planters, we are zeroing in on the 16 building blocks, the characteristics needed to be an effective church planter. The Sixteen Building Blocks are based in the research by Dr. Charles Ridley of Indiana University, Bloomington, IN. Dr Ridley is known as a leading pioneer in church planting assessment. As a result of his research in the 1990’s, he developed the “Charles Ridley's 13 Factors for Successful Church Planters” which became the foundational work for church planting assessment centers within Converge and Converge Great Lakes.
In this article we will be addressing building blocks six and seven which are Vision/Philosophy of Ministry and Evangelism.
Vision/Philosophy of Ministry
Philosophy is the whole reason behind what we do and why we do it. Developing a philosophy of something is about answering deep and probing questions. A philosophy reveals what you consider to be most important. It clarifies priorities, goals, and purpose. Philosophy is the meeting point of beliefs and task. Despite the importance of one’s philosophy of ministry, it’s surprising how many church planters go through assessment and ministry without thinking about it. In order to do things effectively and purposefully, it is important to have a philosophy in place. At the Assessment Center we ask questions like: Can the church planter communicate a clear, compelling vision for his/her church? Do they know what it will look like? Do they have an integrated philosophy of ministry? Can they get others excited about vision? Are people consistently attracted to vision? Will the church planter and followers sacrifice for the vision?
We also ask church planters to tell us how they plan to lead unbelievers to Christ and disciple them to be followers of Christ and leaders in their community and church? If I’m face to face, I like to have them draw it on a napkin. Draw me a picture! What are the pieces?
Vision takes time to craft for the new church plant, and the elements of mission and ministry in it. It’s important to ask, “What’s the purpose of our Sunday gatherings and what’s the week-in, week-out content of those gatherings that helps us accomplish that purpose? How will you engage children and teens in the specific ways you propose? How do things like this affect your mission field, and our overall vision for the new church? Thinking through these types of questions, for every element of our churches, mission, and ministry, helps create the culture to support the vision the church planters dream of.
It’s also so important put the church plant’s vision into practice before you launch. It needs to become the DNA for this new work. During launch team meetings I have always stressed that vision leaks and we need to address it every 20-30 days.
One of the weaker building blocks we see in many potential church planters at the Church Planting Assessment Center is in the area of personal evangelism. Ed Stetzer, a leader in Church Planting, has stated many times that we are good at church planting in North America but we are terrible at evangelism.
On the application to participate in the CPAC are the following questions.
- Who is the last person you led to Christ?
- How do you intend to grow your church with new believers?
Does this candidate have a proven track record of showing unusual ability to lead people to Christ? Is evangelism a very high value? Do they train others to evangelize? Do they use new adaptations in outreach to share the gospel?
As a church, ask yourself these questions about a potential church planting candidate:
- Would you join the candidate’s core group?
- Would you support the candidate financially?
- Would you send your friends or family to the church plant?
- What are the building blocks that are present in the candidate?
- What are the building blocks that are not present in the candidate?
Until next month, keep looking for those potential church planters and use this guide to determine if they are equipped to begin the CP process.