<image courtesy of iprole>
As promised, I’m posting some general (or maybe specific?) reflections about my recent experience at the Church Planter Assessment Center last week.
The first thing I think each of us were struck by was the sense of ‘priority’ communicated: early on in the experience, the potential planters were told the focus of CPAC is on advancing the Cause of the Kingdom. Because no tool in our ministry arsenal is as effective at reaching those who don’t know Christ as a new church, great emphasis is being placed on planting new churches. While the more cynical among us might assume that a denominational emphasis on starting new churches is a solely self-sustaining move (The Wesleyan Church currently closes more churches in a year than it opens), there was never any sense of ‘we must plant new churches or the denomination will die.’ There was great urgency in planting new churches so thousands of people will enter into relationship with Christ.
Because church planting is a bit of a different animal when it comes to ministry, the purpose of the Assessment Center is to evaluate potential planters on their likelihood for church planting succes. But this was explained to demonstrate the desire of the assessors and denomination to help people find their ‘sweet spot’ in the life of the Kingdom, because when everything is in the right place, the Body functions much more effectively.
This immediately took pressure off to see CPAC as a pass/fail scenario. Instead, it is meant to be a discernment tool in understanding how God has wired an individual. I have a friend who very much disliked the whole Assessment experience because they saw it as pass/fail and nothing else. When you understand it as a tool to help find where you best ‘fit,’ it becomes a very freeing, informative experience.
The idea of ‘priority’ is also seen in the way Assessment is paid for—if a potential planter is given a green or conditional-green (yellow) light, the denomination sends a grant to the home district of the assessed party in order to significantly defray the cost. CPAC costs about $1500 to attend, on top of travel, lodging, some meals, and about $80 worth of pre-assessment personality and strengths finding tools. Speaking for our own district, they placed such a high priority on all of this, they went out of their way so the folks from WPA wouldn’t have to incur any of the cost associated with attending.
I’m definitely not into the ‘my-denomination/district-is-better-than-yours’ discussion, but I can say I feel privileged serve in a district and denomination which puts such a hugh priority in reaching people disconnected from Jesus and helping its ministers find the place they can be most effective.
Next time, I’ll share some of why a lot of the nervousness people feel going into Assessment is unfounded.