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The Planter's Ultimatum

  • Scott Thomas
  • Aug 8, 2007
  • Series: Church Planting
  • Categories: Church Planting Articles

Nearly every church planting network and assessment center uses some form of Ridley's list of characteristics for an effective church planter. While I normally decry cut and paste articles, we get numerous questions from potential church planters asking if they should plant a church. When I set out to plant a church, I examined a list of characteristics from Malphur's book to discern God's call to plant a church.

Determining God's call and a readiness to plant a church is crucial. It demands ruthless self-examination by yourself, by a trusted friend, by someone who supervised you and by those to whom you ministered. Read Ridley's list and rate your characteristics. Get three others to do the same on you. Tally your score at the end.

Ridley's 13 Essential Characteristics of an Effective Church Planter

1. Visioning capacity

        being a person who projects into the future beyond the present

        developing a theme which highlights the vision and philosophy of ministry

        persuasively selling the vision to the people

        approaching challenges as opportunities rather than obstacles

        coping effectively with non-visioning elements

        not erecting artificial walls or limits either overtly or subconsciously

        establishing a clear church identity related to the theme and vision

        believing in God's capacity to do great things

Visioning Capacity Score: ______
1= rarely exhibited
2= sometimes exhibited
3= most of the time exhibited
4= passionately exhibited

2. Intrinsically motivated

        having a desire to do well and a commitment to excellence

        stick-to-itiveness and persistence

        having initiative and aggressiveness without the negative connotations

        having a willingness to work long and hard

        being a self-starter with a willingness to build from nothing

        having a high energy and vitality level; physical stamina

Intrinsic Motivation Score: ______
1= rarely exhibited
2= sometimes exhibited
3= most of the time exhibited
4= passionately exhibited

3. Creates ownership of ministry

        helping people to "buy in" and feel responsible for the growth and success of the church

        gaining commitment of the people to the vision

        establishing a congregational identity

avoiding stereotyping of congregation by imposing unrealistic goals for which it cannot claim ownership

Empowerment Ability Score: ______
1= rarely exhibited
2= sometimes exhibited
3= most of the time exhibited
4= passionately exhibited

4. Relates to the unchurched

        communicating in style that is understood by the unchurched

        understanding the "psychology" or mentality of the unchurched

        moving and functioning in the "personal space" of the unchurched without fear

        quickly getting to know the unchurched on a personal level

        breaking through the barriers erected by the unchurched

        handling crises faced by the unchurched

Relating to the Unchurched Score: ______
1= rarely exhibited
2= sometimes exhibited
3= most of the time exhibited
4= passionately exhibited

5. Spousal cooperation

  having an explicit agreement regarding each partner's respective role and involvement in ministry

        having explicit rules regarding the use of home as an office

        evaluating the consequences of ministry demands upon the children

        functioning as a team through individual and collective action

        having a strategy for dealing with strangers

        modeling wholesome family life before church and community

        agreeing upon and sharing the ministry vision

        deliberately planning and protecting private family life

Spousal Cooperation Score: ______
1= rarely exhibited
2= sometimes exhibited
3= most of the time exhibited
4= passionately exhibited

6. Effectively builds relationships

        responding with urgency to expressed needs and concerns of people

        displaying Godly love and compassion to people

        getting to know people on a personal basis

        making others feel secure and comfortable in one's presence

        not responding judgmentally or prejudicially to new people

        appreciating and accepting a variety of persons

        spending quality time with present parishioners without overstepping them for new people

Relationship Building Score: ______
1= rarely exhibited
2= sometimes exhibited
3= most of the time exhibited
4= passionately exhibited

7. Committed to church growth

        believing in church growth as a theological principle

        appreciating steady and consistent growth without preoccupation with the quick success factor

committing to numerical growth within the context of spiritual and relational growth (more and better disciples)

        recognizing that non-growth is threatening and self-defeating

establishing the goal of becoming a financially self-supporting church within a specific period of time

        not prematurely falling into a ministry of maintenance

        seeing the church project within the larger context of God's kingdom

Church Growth Commitment Score: ______
1= rarely exhibited
2= sometimes exhibited
3= most of the time exhibited
4= passionately exhibited

8. Responsive to community

        understanding the culture of the community

        identifying and assessing community needs

responding to community needs on a priority basis such that resources are most efficiently used

    determining successes and failures of other organized religious attempts to respond to community needs

        not confusing what the community needs with what the church wants to offer

        acquiring and understanding of the character and "pulse" of the community

        adapting the philosophy of ministry to the character of the community

Community Responsiveness Score: ______
1= rarely exhibited
2= sometimes exhibited
3= most of the time exhibited
4= passionately exhibited

9. Utilizes giftedness of others

        releasing and equipping people to do the task of ministry

        discerning of spiritual gifts in others

        matching the gifts of people with ministry needs and opportunities

        delegating effectively in areas of personal limitation

        avoiding personal overload by delegating effectively

        not prematurely assigning ministry assignments before people are adequately equipped

        not placing unwarranted restrictions on other's spiritual giftedness

Gift Utilization Score: ______
1= rarely exhibited
2= sometimes exhibited
3= most of the time exhibited
4= passionately exhibited

10. Flexible and adaptable

        coping effectively with ambiguity

        coping effectively with constant and abrupt change

        adapting oneself and one's methods to the uniqueness of the particular church planting project

        shifting priorities and emphasis during various stages of church growth

        doing "whatever" is necessary "whenever" necessary

Adaptability Score: ______
1= rarely exhibited
2= sometimes exhibited
3= most of the time exhibited
4= passionately exhibited

11. Builds group cohesiveness

        developing a nucleus group or groups as a foundation

        quickly incorporating newcomers into a network of relationships

        engaging others in meaningful church activity

        monitoring the morale of people

        utilizing groups effectively

        dealing with conflict assertively, constructively and tactfully

Networking Score: ______
1= rarely exhibited
2= sometimes exhibited
3= most of the time exhibited
4= passionately exhibited

12. Resilience

        experiencing setbacks without defeat

        riding the ups and downs (i.e. attendance)

        expecting the unexpected

        rebounding from loss, disappointments and failure

Resilience Score: ______
1= rarely exhibited
2= sometimes exhibited
3= most of the time exhibited
4= passionately exhibited

13. Exercises faith

        possessing a conviction regarding one's call to church planting ministry

        believing in God's action

        having expectation and hope

        having a willingness to wait for answers to specific prayer requests

Faith Score: ______
1= rarely exhibited
2= sometimes exhibited
3= most of the time exhibited
4= passionately exhibited

Readiness to Plant

Gather the scores from the four sources and add them up.

Self-Analysis: ________

Friend: ________

Supervisor: ________

Ministry Recipient: ________

Total: ________

Score above 180 = Ready to Plant

Score between 180 and 161 = Can be ready to plant after working on weak areas

Score above 160 and 141 = Proceed with caution and after serious examination of weak areas.

Score 140 and below = probably not ready to plant. Find the lowest scores and reexamine your life. Look for specific discrepancies among the four results.

Dr. Charles Ridley (A leading pioneer in church planting assessment), Indiana University, Bloomington, IN