Insight #1 – Experience Counts

By Craig Whitney

In 2005, ELI created an Initial Screening Assessment (ISA) for discovering potential church planters. Since then, over 6,000 people have completed the 102 question survey. (You can too.) In 2008, ELI built www.churchplanterprofiles to help potential church planters discover even more about their readiness by completing the ISA and 5 additional instruments that look at personality, talent and gifting. Today the site is used by over 90 different church planting organizations and 100’s of people interested in church planting every month. We recently conducted a research project to see how the results of these online assessments matched their actual church planting experience. Over the next couple of months I’ll be sharing the insights and implications through this blog.

Insight #1 – Experience Counts

There is an axiom that says, “past performance is the best predictor of future performance.” Our research revealed this truth can be measured in church planting. The ISA returns a percentage score in 4 categories:

  • Church Planting Experience
  • Entrepreneurial Leadership
  • Ministry Experience
  • Relational Evangelism

The scores are also categorized:

  • >75% is “green” indicating an individual’s readiness is similar to a highly effective group of church planters who were the benchmark in the surveys original design.
  • 50-75% is “yellow” indicating an individual’s readiness is significant, but below the benchmark.
  • <50% is “red” indicating an individual readiness is far below the benchmark.

Our research revealed a clear correlation between these ISA scores and the beginning and current attendance of a new church.

Two categories, church planting and ministry experience, were statistically significant. A statisticians way of saying the differences were too great to have occurred randomly or by chance. Almost every statement in these two categories begins with “I have…” So in very simple terms more experience in church planting and ministry results in higher ISA scores and higher new church attendance. The implication – experience counts.
The most important lesson may be for leaders who believe God is calling them to start a church. If that is you, the best advice we can give you is go start something. Start a group in your dorm. Start a Bible study at your local coffee shop or pub. Start a ministry to feed families, or tutor kids. Start something and start it today. The more experience you have at starting things the more ready you will be to start a church.