Assessment is the process of discerning whether a potential church planter is called to plant a church and whether the person is right for a specific new work. Assessment is often broken down into a pre-assessment (self-assessment) and a formal assessment (assessment by an independent group or organization). Click here to read more about pre-assessment.The formal assessment can be as short as one day, but is more often 2-4 days in length. A formal assessment is often done in a group setting with other potential planters and includes a combination of interviews, group exercises, essays, and assignments. The evaluation team observes the potential planters in a number of different situations. Most assessments result in a detailed report that includes strengths as well as weaknesses and makes a recommendation as to a candidates ability to plant a church within the next 2 years.
During World War I the German Army realized the need to determine which soldiers were the best candidates for becoming officers. College diplomas were inadequate as predictors of success, so an assessment process was developed.
Later, large corporations identified a similar need to qualify employees for upper management. Drawing on the German model, a quantifiable process was developed to prepare better leaders for big business.
Industrial psychologists, familiar with military and corporate assessment, have applied a similar assessment process to stemming the tide of attrition in the ranks of foreign missionaries. Placing enthusiastic people in posts for which they were unprepared or unqualified showed itself to be extremely counterproductive and damaging to individuals.
For over a decade, assessment has been used by church planting strategists across North America. Borrowing from experts like Dr. Thomas Graham and Dr. Charles Ridley, a process has been developed to help interested candidates determine their giftedness and readiness for church planting, either as the leader of a team, a member of a team, or as a “solo” church planting pastor.
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Church planting assessment integrates several lenses of evaluation to help a couple or individual discover as much about healthy placement in church planting as possible. These lenses include:
- Written expression, in the form of an extensive questionnaire, a professional resume, exercises, and projects, are evaluated by the assessment staff.
- Psychological instruments are employed to identify any potential issues which impact individual wholeness, marital adjustment, and professional interaction.
- Experienced practitioners observe candidates in simulation modules, team activities and personal interviews to provide real-life perspective for potential church planting scenarios.
- Peer assessment also occurs in the process, providing each candidate with invaluable input from others with whom she/he works during the center.
- Self assessment is perhaps the most important directional outcome of all. Processing all input available, the candidate (and spouse where applicable) is able to make a highly informed conclusion about placement and timing in church planting ministry.