(This is Part 1 of a series on for anyone seeking to ramp up their church planting efforts in 2015.)
A standardized recruitment pathway clarifies the steps to becoming a church planter, and it is essential that your organization have one. In my earliest days of leading a regional church-planting organization, starting new works was not often on the radar of those who could do the work. For this reason, I created what I call “The Funnel,” which simplistically and visually explained the process of how one became a church planter. Below, I briefly explain what each step entails.
1. Initial Contact. This simply states that the process has begun. It means that the candidate has contacted us, or we have contacted the candidate. Contact information has been shared, and we’re open to “kicking the tires” with one another.
2. Personal Interview. This could be a telephone call, Skype or video conference, or a face-to-face meeting. If the potential candidate is married, it is ideal to have both husband and wife together in this personal interview.
3. Pre-Assessment. Formally assessing someone for church planting is an expensive process—financially and in terms of the time investment. The Pre- Assessment phase helps determine if the investment should be made in a given candidate. This can involve filling out a preliminary church-planting form (such as Lifeway’s Church Planter Candidate Assessment, or the ELI Full Planter Profile). This is also the time to conduct criminal and financial background checks.
4. Formal Assessment. In most cases (not all!) candidates have by now made up their minds that they want to plant a church, and they want to be approved to do so. Most organizations use a multi-day Assessment Center or an elongated Behavioral Interview. Recommendations are normally “Recommended,” “Conditionally Recommended,” (some work to do or some condition to be met) or “Not Recommended.
5. Expectations Interview. Some have asked me if this should come sooner in the funnel, perhaps following the Pre-Assessment. That’s your call. I think that if you cover the critical issues earlier in the process, you won’t have any surprises when you hit the Expectations Interview.
6. Project Proposal. Now is the time for the church planter to make known the plan, listing the who-what-where-when-why- and how of his venture. Your agency should develop a template that includes timeline, budget, methodology, success indicators, style, plans for reproduction, and whatever else you consider helpful. Most plans can be improved with a pass from helpful, experienced eyes.
7. Formal Call. During this phase all necessary conditions are met for a formal welcome, or “call,” to be issued. The agency fully approves the planter and states that he is now officially part of the family.
8. Support Discovery. If your church planters are required to raise financial support, they now work diligently to get that underway. If their planting requires them to relocate to another city, experience shows that they will do better at support raising while in their current location. One of the benefits your agency can provide planters is coaching, materials, and encouragement during this phase.
9. Transition. If a move is in order, the church planters relocate to their geographical target. This takes time, and the emotional impact can be notable. This is a good opportunity for your organization to live up to its billing of caring for church planters by doing just that. How can you welcome them and their families? Do that, and the stories will be told again and again.
10. Church Planting. At last, the work of bringing light and life to the target location begins. This will be a faith venture for all involved. Your church planters will be coached, prayed for, and given the resolve to accomplish what God has called them to do.
This is just one example of a recruitment pathway. Assemble your creative team and come up with your own. The next great metaphor is waiting to be discovered. Take time to research what other agencies are doing, gleaning helpful tips and ideas. Do what you can to demystify church planting and your organization to potential church planters. Once your pathway is known and understood, so much of the rest falls into place.
What are your goals for maximizing your church planting efforts in the new year? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Find the rest of this series here: