What Does a Typical Church Planter Look Like? Part 5

Joel Nelson

Director of Church Expansion and Growth, Converge North Central

  • Church planting & multiplication

As a starting point in answering the question of what a typical church planter looks like, we begin with the 16 building blocks that form the foundation of Converge’s Church Planter Assessment Center. We’ve covered a number of the building blocks here. 

These building block are based upon the research of Dr. Charles Ridley. As a pioneer in church planting assessment, his work has become the foundation for the assessment process across denominations and networks. They focus on the capacities and skills that are foundational for a church planter.

It’s important to remember that in assessing these building blocks, we seek to look beyond affirming them intellectually, but seek to assess through behavior. Ask any pastor if they believe that discipleship and evangelism, are important and you will hear ringing endorsements. But, if you ask the question, “who are you discipling right now,” or “provide me with some examples of spiritual conversations you’ve had with an unbeliever,” you begin to discover if the behavior reveals whether or not a specific building block exists.

Here, we will consider three more building blocks: Faith, Discipling, and Knowledge of Church Planting.


Though faith is crucial in ministry as well as in a life of following Jesus, it is much more than just an intellectual belief in God’s power. It’s also more than believing that God will do some special work in your ministry. It’s expecting God to show up, to work actively and obviously in the ministry. Not only are the expectation of what you want to see happen, but there is clear evidence of God’s working in the past and present. This faith believes that God will use the planter to do great things with a vision that is wide and a scope that is deep. There has been evidence of God’s power which can only be attributed to God. And this expectancy carries into the future.


As with other building blocks, what is sought out in this block is not just an intellectual understanding and endorsement of discipling, but evidence through behavior. Energy, passion, and conviction seek to see people deepen their relationship with Christ. Communities of authenticity, obedience, and multiplication move beyond merely a transfer of knowledge, but seek life change where people are on a journey together following Jesus, building relationships, and inviting others to join.

Knowledge of Church Planting

This building block is reflected in a learning and ongoing understanding of church planting. Books, podcasts, seminars, workshops, and coaching are used to increase knowledge. The planter understands and appreciates best practices, knowing and employing tools and methods related to the specifics of church planting. Where some of the 16 building blocks are “hard-wired” into a church planter, this building block is an example of one that can be learned over time.

So, what does a typical church planter look like? One planter may be an introvert who preaches topically while another may be an extrovert who prefers verse-by-verse expository preaching. Gift mix and skills differ from person to person, but a common thread for church planters is God doing His work in their life through their gifts, abilities, and calling as they build upon the blocks and characteristics found in effective church planters.

The next article in this series will look at the building blocks and characteristics of productivity and enthusiasm.

As you unpack these characteristic, is there someone you know who might possess these church planting building blocks? Perhaps you, as you familiarize yourself with these ideas feel an affinity and perhaps God is leading you to investigate church planting more. Either way, I would love the opportunity to talk more with you. Contact me at jnelson@convergenorthcentral.org

Joel Nelson, Director of Church Expansion and Growth, Converge North Central

Joel serves as the Converge North Central Director of Church Expansion and Growth.

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