The day began early with a devotional by pastor Chuck Angel, who hosted most of the day's activities. Angel encouraged us church planters to be as skilled in encouraging and building our relationships as we are in building a church, vision, and structure. Focusing only on the latter can be lonely. And we are most vulnerable when we are lonely.
Throughout the day then, we participated in mostly group simulations and exercises in which each individual planter's character qualities and job tasks were being observed by the ARC Assessment Team.
One exercise was an analysis of a church planting scenario. A potential scenario was presented and the attending church planters were divided into groups to determine the positives and negatives, as well as the pros and cons of the situation.
Another challenge was to create a comprehensive church plant proposal in a short amount of time. Divided into groups again, we were to choose a city from a preselected list, research demographics, develop a vision, strategy, ministry approach, and financial needs. Each group was then required to make the proposal in front of the panel of 15 ARC Assessors who played the role of potential partners and investors.
Comprised of pastors, pastors' spouses, church planters, counselors, and marketplace leaders experienced with church planting and ARC churches, the assessment team uses a predetermined grid of standards by which to record and measure their observations.
Each church planting couple had one more private interview to discuss the passion, vision, and strategy of their church plant. And then finally, there was a special time in which the ARC assessors prayed over each of the church planters for encouragement and God's blessing.
As I said, the day's events were exhausting. Not so much because of the time, but because of the effort and concentration put forth for each of the activities and assessments.
As hoped, Andrea and I were able to identify some of our unique strengths and also some weaknesses. The key now is to build upon our strengths and to intentionally complement our and/or improve our weaknesses.
We will now be looking for the panel to meet together to discuss, evaluate, and collate their observations and impressions from the two days and pre-assessment tests, and then to return one of three assessments:
- Recommended for ARC church planting.
- Conditionally recommended for ARC church planting
- or not recommended for ARC church planting at this time.
Andrea and I are assured of God's direction in planting Encounter here in Helena, whether ARC decides to officially partner with us or not. While we feel Encounter may be a good "fit" as a life-giving ARC church, ARC may not. And so that will move us on to our next step in securing the partnership that God has already prepared for this church plant.
Helena needs a faith community like Encounter - a faith community with a vision to engage this generation into a growing relationship with Jesus through an invest and invite culture, authentic small group opportunities, and excellent and irresistible worship gatherings.