LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – On September 11 at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC), eight new church planters met to begin their journey into church planting around the state. This day was the culmination of weeks of filling out online various pre-assessment tools and Zoom interviews. Representatives from sponsor churches and assessors for church planters were also in attendance for the day-long assessment and training.
Church planting is not an easy challenge. The Church Planting Team of the ABSC conducts the assessment twice a year to bring new church planters and sponsor churches together to fellowship and help prep them for the journey on which they are embarking.
In the past, this assessment time was a one-on-one interview style for the planters with assessors. For the last year, the Church Planting Team has hosted these assessment days to bring in multiple planters, assessors, and sponsors to help train and equip them. “We’ve upped our game and learned from different assessment processes across the convention on how to create this format so we can get more eyes on people,” Tim Wicker, Church Planting team leader, said. “It’s a way more objective assessment.”
The whole purpose of these assessments is to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the planters and communicate that information with the sponsors so they can better equip and train the planters for their church planting journey.
The day begins with a time of fellowship as everyone arrives. Eventually, they gather in the Chapel with Tim Wicker, Church Planting Team Leader, opening the assembly and welcoming everyone. Wicker encourages the church planters about the journey they have begun and how important the task is before them. “You’re going out to save the lost and dying,” he said. “And we’re here to help you develop that strategy [to do so].”
Dave McClung, a church planter with the Summit Church in Vilonia, also opens the assembly with encouragement reminding the planters that they are never alone in this journey and that “God is never absent in this season.”
The meeting is turned over to Chanson Newborn, Church Planting Strategist, as he demonstrated an activity that the church planters would be doing. He drew out his journey to becoming a church planter with pictures and words and explained it. He then had the planters spread out across the room to big pieces of paper set up for them to draw, or write, their own journeys. At the end of ten minutes, each planter explained their journey through what they’d drawn or written down. Newborn emphasized the importance of this exercise by saying that sometimes remembering their calling to plant and expressing that journey is what keeps you going.
During their assessment time, each planter is observed by nine different assessors on topics like leadership, social skills, communication, family dynamics, and more. At the end of the day, the assessors meet together to create a final report for the sponsor churches to get that information and discuss the next steps they can take with these planters.
Towards the end of the afternoon, Joey Cook, Church Planting Strategist, and pastor of City Church in Conway moderated a “Shark Tank®” style discussion where planters were able to cast their vision of their churches and needs to 3-4 “sharks” or potential partners. The potential partners would then turn around and ask questions and give feedback on how the planters could best approach and present their ideas and needs in the future.
A commissioning exercise led by Newborn and Willie Jacobs, Director of New Church Affiliates and Church Planting Strategist, conclude the afternoon’s activities. At this point, the planters are prayed over and sent out.
The ABSC Church Planting Team is always looking for churches to sponsor new works to spread across the state. This assessment is one of those tools they use to help encourage and equip the sponsors to send out their planters to best represent the Gospel and move God’s Kingdom forward.
For more information about Church Planting, click here.