Insight #4 – What we’ve Learned from Online Assessment

By Craig Whitney

(Note this is the fourth in a series. See Insight #1 for background on the research project.)

ELI recently surveyed hundreds of church planters who had completed our online Church Planter Profile. We wanted to know if we could find any correlation between the online assessments and actual church planting outcomes. The simple answer is yes, there is a relationship. I’ve written already about three of the discoveries. Our fourth discovery was that leaders who excel in influence excel in church planting.

Church Planter Profiles utilizes several standardized personality assessment, including the Portrait Predictor™, which is based on the DISC typology. The purpose of the DISC is to identify an individual’s behavior in a specific situation. The results provide a portrait of behavior on a grid that includes:

Direct – assertive, firm, competitive
Inspire – influencing, persuasive, enthusiastic
Support – loyal, sympathetic, patient
Correct – compliant, literal, complete

As a result of our research, we discovered that 5 portraits, all including the “inspire” trait make up 77% of all those who planted. I wrote about a similar discovery regarding the Golden Personality Profile in the . This statistic may tell us as much about the work of church planting as the qualities of effective church planters. We also discovered a distinct difference in planting outcomes based on which trait “influence” was combined with. Church planters with “influence” combined with “direct” were more likely to be in the group of highly effective planters. Church planters with “influence” combined with “support” were more likely to be in the lowest group of effectiveness.

A couple insights stand out in my mind. First, is the axiom leadership is influence. Almost regardless of your church planting context, model or goals, to be effective you will need to influence others to join you in following Jesus. Church planters who have by natural giftedness or persistent development honed the behaviors of influence will excel. This is obvious and self-evident to anyone who has ever planted a church. The second is less obvious and maybe even a little controversial, leaders who focus on outcomes more than process lead churches that grow larger faster. That is not to say that people and process should be ignored – that is a recipe for certain failure. Rather it is to recognize that focusing on people and process can be a trap. One uncooperative person can hijack a vision. One needy person can drain a leaders resources. Effective church planters handle these people with grace, while keeping a healthy focus on outcomes.

Next: Never Stop Learning