Assessment retreat provides confirmation, clarity for potential church planters 

The Summit Church Vilonia Lead Pastor Dave McClung (right) was the emcee of the Send Network Arkansas Assessment Retreat held Sept. 8-9. (Mary Alford/ABN)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Church planting candidates recently gathered at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) to confirm their calling and become better equipped as they embark on their potential church planting journey.  

The two-day Send Network Arkansas Assessment Retreat held Sept. 8-9 was the culmination of months of the candidates completing various pre-assessment tools and interviews. Representatives from sponsor churches were also in attendance for the assessment and training. 

Dave McClung, a church planter with The Summit Church in Vilonia, was the emcee of the retreat. He said the assessment’s purpose is to identify the strengths and weaknesses to better equip and train the planters. 

Douglas Jones (center) is prayed over by David Cox and Shane Fore. (Mary Alford/ABN)

McClung described church planting as one of the “scariest, craziest adventures” a person will ever go on in ministry.  

“There are a lot of things you’ll do that will be easier, that will make more money, that will be healthier for you and your family if you’re not called. But if you are called to this, you can’t do anything but,” McClung told candidates on Friday.  

“We want to help you guys confirm that calling, assess that calling. That is why we are here. This retreat is designed to help you discern that. Our hope is that you’ll walk away with confirmation and clarity.”  

ABSC Church Planting Team Leader Vince Blubaugh on Friday welcomed the attendees to the retreat and ABSC Church Planting Specialist Jay Ham led them in worship.  

Billy Joe and Deanna Sherman share their journey to becoming church planters. (Mary Alford/ABN)

The retreat included lots of prayer, candidate interviews, sending church workshops and more. During one exercise, candidates were asked to draw out their journey to becoming a church planter with pictures and words. They then explained it to the assessors.  

Each planter was observed by different assessors on topics like leadership, social skills, communication, family dynamics, and more.  

At the end of the retreat, the assessors create a final report for the sponsor churches and discuss the next steps to take with the planters.   

“This whole weekend we want to bring clarity. We want to bring encouragement. We want to highlight strengths, highlight weaknesses, so that when you walk out of here you are ready to go. You know exactly what God is leading you to do,” McClung said. 

The retreat is held in partnership with the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and Send Network.

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