Saturday, September 23, 2006

Church Planter Characteristics

Dr Ridley's 13 Essential Characteristics of a Successful 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12. Resilience
experiencing setbacks without defeat
riding the ups and downs (i.e. attendance)
expecting the unexpected
rebounding from loss, disappointments and failure

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

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

Serious Servants

Why don't people want to serve in the local church? It seems to be a pretty big problem, from the pastors I talk to. The ones that do work always seem like they are doing double duty. What is with that? I have spent the last 20 years or so collecting excuses. Some are mere excuses, others are a reflection in the way we think.

I'M REALLY BUSY LATELY. People often say that because they think it lets them off the hook. But in reality it often points out the everything else takes priority over obedience to the Lord.

THE LORD DIDN'T SPEAK TO ME ABOUT THAT PARTICULAR MINISTRY. I completely agree that we should be submissive to the leading of the Lord. But there are verses written in the Scripture that make it pretty clear we are supposed to be reaching out, extending the love of God, and helping those in need. Sometime I find folks who, in effect, declare the written Word of God is not enough- they are demanding a sign or a "rhema word" or some subjective feeling regarding the specific way.

I AM GOING TO PRAY ABOUT IT. But they don't. They often have no intent to. They don't want to ask God because it would cramp their style.

I NEED TO GET MINISTERED TO. This is the ridiculous thinking that we can only receive when we are sitting in the sanctuary hearing the word. Giving, serving is an amazing growth opportunity.

THAT MINISTRY? OH GOD WOULDN'T PUT A PERSON WITH MY TALENT IN THAT PLACE. The thinking is that the "lime light ministries" are more deserving of my talent.

Too often the local church limps along while people who could strengthen it, don't. If God has called them- how can they fail to respond? Often these are the same people who recieved so much help from the church! Is it selfish? I look at my life- I have worked the nursery, taught sunday school for nearly every age child, cleaned the church, repaired things, moved people, fed the homeless, etc. In everything that I have done- I have become a better Christian believer and a more mature person. Perhaps the problem is that they were never serious about being servants of Christ- period.