Creating Ownership of Ministry

The Church Planter Profile has been used widely as a tool for selecting church planters. As the developer of the profile, I personally have used it to assess scores of candidates for church planting, train hundreds of individuals to conduct assessment interviews, and consult with a broad spectrum of denominations and church networks on assessment and selection.

Based on this experience, I have arrived at the following conclusion. Of the 13 behavioral dimensions on the profile, one stands out more than any other as a weakness among candidates—creating ownership of ministry.

Admittedly, my observation is not based on systematic hard data—no random selection of participants, just convenience samples; no repeated measures and multiple data points; no follow-up analyses; and no inter-judge agreement on the construct. Nevertheless, after hundreds of assessments and consultations, I suggest that this soft data set merits serious consideration. At least 40-50% of potential church planters, in my judgment, are weak on this dimension.

Creating ownership of ministry is not simply a matter of assigning tasks or delegating responsibility. It is not simply recruiting people to do volunteer service. It is not only a matter of selecting people for positions. Indeed, all of these activities are relevant to creating ownership of ministry, but in and of themselves, they do not strike at the heart of this dimension.

I liken creating ownership of ministry to passing the ministry baton. It concerns instilling in others a commitment to, a sense of responsibility for, and the follow-through actions of carrying out the central mission of the church. The proof positive of strength in this domain is when the leader who creates ownership leaves the group or organization, and the ministry thrives in the person’s absence. That’s real passing of the baton. Thus, the behaviors on this dimension are ministry-centered, not leadership-centered.

The core skill set in this dimension entails reproduction—investing in people and developing them into mature followers of Christ. Yes! This is disciple making. Actually, there are two levels of reproduction.

  • Level 1: Reproducing followers of Christ
  • Level 2: Reproducing mature followers of Christ who themselves reproduce mature followers of Christ

Level 1 is about addition, but Level 2 is about multiplication. Level 2 requires skills that extend beyond Level 1. In my experience, many candidates for church planting do not operate at Level 1, but it is rarer to find candidates who truly operate at Level 2. If this observation is correct, to some extent, it accounts for why we are not making more (quantitative) and better (qualitative) disciples.