Crossing LeadershipTRAX

Dr Ridley's 13 Essential Characteristics of a Successful Church Planter

I believe these characteristics are broader than that of a "church planter."  I believe they are characteristics to an effective leader.  This is a measuring tool for leaders to compare themselves to.


Dr Ridley's 13 Essential Characteristics of a Successful Church Planter

1. Visioning capacity

being a person who projects into the future beyond the present developing a theme which highlights the vision and philosophy of ministry persuasively selling the vision to the people approaching challenges as opportunities rather than obstacles coping effectively with non-visioning elements not erecting artificial walls or limits either overtly or subconsciously establishing a clear church identity related to the theme and vision believing in God's capacity to do great things

2. Intrinsically motivated

having a desire to do well and a commitment to excellence stick-to-itiveness and persistence having initiative and aggressiveness without the negative connotations having a willingness to work long and hard being a self-starter with a willingness to build from nothing having a high energy and vitality level; physical stamina

3. Creates ownership of ministry

helping people to "buy in" and feel responsible for the growth and success of the church gaining commitment of the people to the vision establishing a congregational identity

avoiding stereotyping of congregation by imposing unrealistic goals for which it cannot claim ownership

4. Relates to the unchurched

communicating in style that is understood by the unchurched understanding the "psychology" or mentality of the unchurched moving and functioning in the "personal space" of the unchurched without fear quickly getting to know the unchurched on a personal level breaking through the barriers erected by the unchurched handling crises faced by the unchurched

5. Spousal cooperation

having an explicit agreement regarding each partner's respective role and involvement in ministry having explicit rules regarding the use of home as an office evaluating the consequences of ministry demands upon the children functioning as a team through individual and collective action

having a strategy for dealing with strangers modeling wholesome family life before church and community agreeing upon and sharing the ministry vision

deliberately planning and protecting private family life

6. Effectively builds relationships

responding with urgency to expressed needs and concerns of people displaying Godly love and compassion to people getting to know people on a personal basis making others feel secure and comfortable in one's presence

not responding judgmentally or prejudicially to new people appreciating and accepting a variety of persons spending quality time with present parishioners without overstepping them for new people

7. Committed to church growth

believing in church growth as a theological principle appreciating steady and consistent growth without preoccupation with the quick success factor committing to numerical growth within the context of spiritual and relational growth (more and better disciples) recognizing that non-growth is threatening and self-defeating establishing the goal of becoming a financially self-supporting church within a specific period of time not prematurely falling into a ministry of maintenance seeing the church project within the larger context of God's kingdom

8. Responsive to community

understanding the culture of the community identifying and assessing community needs responding to community needs on a priority basis such that resources are most efficiently used determining successes and failures of other organized religious attempts to respond to community needs not confusing what the community needs with what the church wants to offer acquiring and understanding of the character and "pulse" of the community adapting the philosophy of ministry to the character of the community

9. Utilizes giftedness of others

releasing and equipping people to do the task of ministry discerning of spiritual gifts in others matching the gifts of people with ministry needs and opportunities delegating effectively in areas of personal limitation

avoiding personal overload by delegating effectively not prematurely assigning ministry assignments before people are adequately equipped not placing unwarranted restrictions on other's spiritual giftedness

10. Flexible and adaptable

coping effectively with ambiguity coping effectively with constant and abrupt change adapting oneself and one's methods to the uniqueness of the particular church planting project shifting priorities and emphasis during various stages of church growth doing "whatever" is necessary "whenever" necessary

11. Builds group cohesiveness

developing a nucleus group or groups as a foundation quickly incorporating newcomers into a network of relationships engaging others in meaningful church activity monitoring the morale of people utilizing groups effectively dealing with conflict assertively, constructively and tactfully

12. Resilience

experiencing setbacks without defeat riding the ups and downs (i.e. attendance) expecting the unexpected rebounding from loss, disappointments and failure

13. Exercises faith

possessing a conviction regarding one's call to church planting ministry believing in God's action having expectation and hope having a willingness to wait for answers to specific prayer requests

Dr. Charles Ridley (A leading pioneer in church planting assessment), Indiana University, Bloomington, IN


Last updated by Sonny Woollard Nov 23, 2010.

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