16 Building Blocks Necessary for Planting a Church

Glenn Herschberger

Executive Director of Church Planting, Converge Great Lakes

  • Church planting & multiplication

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about mission and what we can do as churches during this time of radical adjustment. Our mission is to make disciples, start new congregations and to raise up the next generation of Church Planters, church leaders, and missionaries.

God has given us this unprecedented time as we are separated and staying at home to prepare us and unleash us for the next wave of kingdom advancement. At Converge Great Lakes we talk a lot about developing the church planting pipeline. Maybe you ask:

What does that take? How do you do it? What should you look for?

Every potential Church Planter will go through a 4 Day Assessment Center. During that assessment center, we look primarily at 16 building blocks necessary to confirm their call and the skill set to be a candidate to plant a church.

The Sixteen Building Blocks are based in the research by Dr. Charles Ridley of Indiana University.   Dr. Ridley is known as a leading pioneer in church planting assessment.  As a result of his research in the 1990’s, he developed “Charles Ridley's 13 Factors for Successful Church Planters,” which became the foundational work for church planting assessment centers.  The Sixteen Building Blocks are the capacities and skills needed by the Lead Pastor/Multi-Site Pastor in a church plant.

The first step in looking for these building blocks is to set your own eyes on looking for behaviors as opposed to intellectual assent.  That is if you asked a potential church planter if they thought evangelism in the church is essential, most likely you would get a resounding yes!  If you asked the question with a different angle, such as “tell me how you are sharing Christ with people outside the church,”  we would discover whether or not evangelism is a behavior in their life rather than just an idea they believe. Behaviors uncover whether or not a specific block exists.  We can, with additional interviews, discover the development of those blocks.

So, what does a typical church planter look like?  There is no typical church planter. Each individual is different, and God is currently working through them within their gifts and abilities.  Uncovering the blocks will, however, let us see if God has gifted them with the necessary blocks to build on.  You will find many people who have some of the blocks and are great people, but they are not specifically suited to be a church planter.  Church planting is tough enough with all of the blocks present.  It can be devastating to a pastor, church, and congregation when he is sent out to do the work with blocks missing.

I believe every church could and should begin the process of developing these 16 characteristics in their identified potential planters and leaders. Over the course of the next few months, I’d like to address each one of the following 16 building blocks one at a time:

1. Relationship with God

2. Emotional Health/Self Image

3. Relational Ability

4. Marriage and Family Relationships

5. Personal Integrity

6. Vision/Philosophy of Ministry

7. Evangelism

8. Leadership Gifts/Ability

9. Entrepreneur/Organizer

10. Public Ministry Skills

11. Enthusiasm/Energy

12. Faith

13. Productivity

14. Knowledge of Church Planting/Church Growth

15. Discipling

16. Ability to Gather and Motivate Others

Blocks 1 -5 are necessary for any ministry as well as Church planting. Blocks 6-16 are specifically needed to plant a church.

The first building block is their relationship with God.

Do they exhibit an exceptionally close walk to God? Do we see a regular deep rich devotional time? Is there evidence of powerfully answered prayer? Is Scripture deeply embedded in their thinking? Is their walk with God more important than ministry success?

If these observations are evident, the assessment would give them a 5 rating. If they are very close to God and exhibit a deep devotional practice but it’s not regular or consistent, or if they rarely minister in their own strength and are usually joyful in trials, they may receive a 4 rating. The next rating is that they have a solid devotion to God and their quiet time is generally meaningful with occasional answers to prayer, but scripture isn’t permeated to several areas of thinking and generally ministry is more important to them than their walk with God. If they are aware of this and are working on it, the assessment team would rate them as a 3. An individual would receive the last two ratings of 2 or 1 if their life shows a sporadic devotional life, few answers to prayer, if any, a lack of Biblical proficiency in most areas of life. and that they do ministry from their own strength instead of relying on the Holy Spirit and prayer.

You, as a leader in the church, are in the best possible position to observe the presence of these building blocks. Could you begin to implement this in your disciple making process? God has given us the people resources within our respective ministries. Part of developing the church planting pipeline is by first nurturing and identifying these characteristics in our own congregations. 

Glenn Herschberger, Executive Director of Church Planting, Converge Great Lakes

Glenn Herschberger planted his first church, Real Hope Community Church, in Lake Mills, Wisconsin, in 1999. He and his wife, Susan, then served as Converge missionaries in Panama City, Panama, where they planted LifeBridge International Church in 2012. Glenn was the director of Mobilization for Converge in Orlando before being asked to lead the church planting movement for Converge Great Lakes. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin. He is also a graduate of the Center for Excellence in Congregational Leadership and received his master’s degree in biblical counseling from Luther Rice Seminary.

Additional articles by Glenn Herschberger