When it comes to professional pastoral ministries, the absolute must difficult job of all is effectively leading a church’s transformation. That’s a glamourless, thankless, painful, heart-wrenching, aggravating, and too often career-ending task. In fact, the only ones who intentionally consider engaging in this kind of ministry are either narcissistic, arrogant, savior-complexed martyrs or else the God-called servant who is faithful to the core.

That being the case, when a pastor takes on a transformation project church and experiences abject failure, and 80 – 90 percent of all intentional church transformation attempts do end in abject failure, the pastor is often template to look around for an easier ministry. When they do, they may cast their eye on church planting. Everyone knows that effective church planters don’t have to deal with bloated boards, antiquated traditions, or church matriarchs or patriarchs. It almost sounds too good to be true, and so they let their denominational office know of their interest. And though most denominations have official “church planter assessment” policies and procedures, too many of them (especially in the Mainline) assess using the cardiac pump method … if their heart is pumping, then they must be church planter material.

And so, recently I was asked on the Advanced Leadership Forum (a 21st Century Strategies’ members-only church leader coaching colloquy) how to do a preliminary self-assessment as a prospective church planter. What follows is my response.

As you consider the following questions, bear in mind that this is a self-assessment. If you’ve been engaging the 21st Century Strategies’ Church Growth and Transformation Philosophy for any amount of time, you’ll have an idea about what makes for an effective transformational leader. If you’re new to our philosophy then let me recommend getting a professional assessment … or immersing yourself in reading and viewing and listening to our training materials so that you’ll get a sense of what works and what doesn’t.

Instructions: Answer each of the questions spontaneously and rapidly as possible. If you have to think about any of them, then you’re working too hard to put the “right” answer. Don’t worry about what’s “right” as you answer them. You’ll have plenty of time when you’re done to ponder that question.

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Effective Transformational Church Leadership
& Prospective Church Planter

  1. In a Meyers-Briggs or Keirsy-Bates, what’s your personality type?
  2. How many honest spiritual conversations have you had with thoroughly unchurched people in the past 90 days?
  3. How many unchurched people have you personally brought to Jesus (not just to a worship service) in the past year?
  4. How many life-changing small groups did you get started in your previous churches?
  5. How much experience have you had in churches that average over 750/week in worship?
  6. Rank the following bulleted tasks:
     (I suggest copying the list into a text document and rearranging them there.) 

    (a) First, arrange each task based on how much time a growth pastor (church planter) spends on each task. (b) Once they are in order, suggest how many hours per week a growth pastor spends on each task.

    (c) Next, copy the list and re-arrange them in order of how much of your time is currently spent on each task.

    (d) Once they are in order, estimate how many hours per week you spend on each task.

  • Preparing a life-changing dynamic sermon
  • Planning and preparing for a life-changing worship service
  • Intentional time in personal prayer and spiritual disciplines
  • Keeping the church running smoothly by providing support with administration
  • Showing support for our church’s ministries by attending meetings and events
  • Helping members work through (or get over) grievances, issues, conflicts, and discontent
  • Helping members become more committed disciples by teaching Sunday school, small groups, etc.
  • Creating marketing materials and keeping the website up-to-date so guests are attracted to our church
  • Keeping my leadership skills sharp by reading leadership books, engaging church-growth types of materials, and being personally mentored/coached
  • Ensuring availability to the church’s leaders by keeping set office hours
  • Helping members and others become spiritually healthy through pastoral counseling
  • Spending time in the community intentionally developing relationships with people outside the church
  • Ensuring effective ministries by attending committee or team meetings
  • Keeping the church’s membership apprised of the exciting church ministries by attending and reporting at meetings, preparing newsletters and articles, and emailing/telephoning/visiting members
  • Ensuring members feel secure and loved by visiting them in the hospital and/or in their home in times of illness or crisis
  • Keeping the staff focused on the church’s programs and ministries by leading staff meetings that keep the calendar up-to-date and everyone apprised of what’s going on and upcoming
  • Expanding and investing in online social networks in order to reach the new digital generation
  • Helping new members and/or visitors make a connection in the church’s ministries
  • Following-up with first time and returning guests
  • Providing one-on-one intentional coaching and mentoring appointments with staff and key leaders
  • Keeping up-to-date with current trends by reading secular books and magazines, watching television, going to the movies, attending local non-faith based events, etc.
  • Keeping my family intact by spending time at home and being available to them
  • Keeping my marriage intact by spending one-on-one time with my spouse without the children, friends, church members, etc. (sometimes called dating)
  • Keeping my collegial ties strong by attending ministry alliance meetings, lectionary studies, denominational meetings, etc.
  • Keeping my theological education sharp by reading the great historical theologians, commentaries, and mind-expanding current theologians

Once you’ve completed these questions, walk away for a day or two before reviewing them. If you don’t know what the “right” answers are (and you really want to know), then let us invite you to begin engaging in some significant Continuing Education. Check out some Church-Talk episodes on effective leadership, time management, and so on. Read Easum’s Unfreezing Moves and Second Resurrection. Read through my blog (http://churchgrowtharticles.com/author/billtb/) and peruse your old issues of Net Results (or get a Premium Subscription and get access to all the issues back to 1980).