Category Archives: Develop Leaders

Leadership is Influence

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

What we’ve Learned from Online Assessment

By Craig Whitney

Part 3 – You were Made for This

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

Imagine that you are 12 years old and 6 feet tall. Someone hands you a basketball and says, “you were made for this.” Reality is you may or may not be, but when you’re 12 years old and 6 feet tall, if you haven’t picked up a basketball on your own, you shouldn’t be surprised when someone hands you one. A quick scan of an NBA roster reveals very few players under 6 feet and an unusually high number of 7 footers.

A quick scan of the results of the Golden Personality Profile, a personality assessment based on the four letter type developed by Myers and Briggs, included in Church Planter Profiles reveals that almost 80% are extraverted and intuitive. This is significant since less than 50% of the population are one of these types. It probably tells us as much about church planting as it does church planters. Church planting is highly relational and more about possibilities than realities at the start. The personality and the activity seem to be made for each other.

Is it possible you were made for this? David writes that God formed him and wrote his days before he was born. He was made to be king. Why David? God chose him. Paul tells us the potter has the right to make whatever he wants from the clay. We were all made for something. Statistically speaking, if your extraverted and intuiting, church planting would be an option worth exploring.

If you’re not extraverted and intuiting, can God use you to start a church? According to our research, he can. You may find yourself feeling like Spud Webb, who at 5 for 7 must have been aware he was not like his NBA teammates. He played 12 seasons in the NBA and won a slam dunk contest anyway.
The research points out a clear danger of relying exclusively on this type assessment, missing a God made exception. The research also points out what may be the greatest value of tool like the Golden Personality Profile – self-awareness. Understanding how God made you helps you become who God made you to be.

What We’ve Learned From Online Assessment

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.