1) I am interested in planting a church with the Northwest Conference. What is the next step?
The first step is to see if you are indeed called to be a church planter. We would urge you to take the self-assessment tool found on this webpage. After you have done the self-assessment we want to encourage you to contact us so we can send you information on church planting in the Evangelical Covenant Church.
The next step would be to have an initial phone interview with one of our staff. If the pre-assessment process determines that you should go on, we will then send you, and your spouse if you are married, to a formal assessment center to determine if church planting would be the most fruitful ministry area for you.
If the assessment center determines that you are indeed a church planter then we will assist you in developing a “well conceived project” that would include the where, the how, the timeline and the funding. We need to say that we are not a pastoral placement agency and do not guarantee placement and a planting project for each pastor. Our church planting is more “bottom up” in the sense that local churches or groups of partnering churches drive our church planting efforts.
2) What does the assessment process look like?
The assessment process is a formal evaluation that is done at one of our national assessment centers each year. An individual, or couple if married, is brought in for an intensive 4-day assessment process that includes the use of several evaluative personality tools, observation, interviews, and group exercises that are designed to give us the best possible snapshot of your readiness to plant an Evangelical Covenant Church. While we use lots of tools to help us arrive at our final disposition, we spend much time in prayer before arriving at a final recommendation.
At the conclusion of the assessment center you will have an exit interview with a representative of the assessment center who will give you the final disposition of the assessment team. At this point, if you are recommended to plant, you will begin to work with the Director of Church Planting for the Northwest Conference, to develop a possible planting project.
A positive recommendation from the Church Planter’s Assessment Center is not a guarantee of placement or employment, however. The beginning of a new project is dependent on the development of a project plan that meets the approval of the ECC and the Conference Director of Church Planting.
3) What are the qualifications to be an Evangelical Covenant Church planter?
This is not a simple question. The answer first begins with a called pastor with the right gifts, skills, and passion. It also requires, however, an evaluation of an individual’s educational experiences, past ministry experiences, temperament, gifting, compatibility with the ECC and several other factors.
While there are no specific or formal educational requirements mandated, we do look for pastors who are equipped to lead, have strong Biblical knowledge and can communicate well. The potential church planter will still need to be approved by an ECC assessment center prior to moving forward toward planting.
4) Where is the best place to plant a church with the ECC?
Wherever you have context, connections and resources is the best place. New churches are needed everywhere. Studies reveal that only about 20% of people throughout the Northwest Conference attend church on any given Sunday, and the un-churched population is growing much faster than we can plant new churches. So the simple answer to the question of where do we need to plant new churches is … everywhere!
Planting also works best when there is a “Parenting” church that can provide capacity at the beginning of a new church plant. We also utilize groups of “Partnering Churches” to help a new work get started. We believe that God is creating a movement of church planting in our area that will allow us to reach every people group, neighborhood, and community with the Good New of Jesus Christ.
5) What kind of churches do you want to see planted?
We desire to assist in the planting of churches that:
Demonstrate Biblical Faithfulness … This is the first and most important point because we truly believe that everything we do and say must be Biblically grounded and God focused.
Practice God-focused worship … Our worship must always be Christ-centered and Biblically faithful, while being passionate, relevant, and authentic.
Are Praying Churches … It’s not enough to bookend our gatherings with prayer. We desire to see churches that live in constant and conscious dependence on God by staying connected with Him through prayer.
Are Committed to Mission … We are called to fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.
Major on Grace … Our churches need to be places where there is hope for healing and restoration where everyone recognizes that they are sinners saved by grace.
Believe they are Called to Reach out With the Love of Christ … Compassion, Mercy, and Justice are not just good ideas, they are the foundation for reaching our world with the Good News of Jesus and living in community with one another.
Look like the Communities they are Planted in… We desire to see churches that look like heaven. These churches cross social, ethnic, racial, economic and generational boundaries.
Believe in the Principle of Generosity … We save our lives by giving them away. We want churches to be places where the expectation is people will be generous with their time, talent and treasure.
Are Part of the Covenant Family … We believe that God is doing something good through this denomination and want to faithfully represent the values we embrace.
Raise up Leaders and Equip People for Ministry … Our commitment is to the priesthood of all believers. God has gifted every believer and desires to see each one use their gifts to serve others.
Will Intentionally Reproduce themselves … Healthy organisms grow and reproduce. The real fruit of a new church is new believers and more new churches being birthed.
6) What does funding look like for new churches in the Northwest Conference?
We typically fund new churches on a multi-year appropriation schedule that involves funding from our national office in Chicago, another stream of funding from the Northwest Conference, a third steam of funding from a parent or partnering churches, and church planter fund-raising.
The reality is that every church is different in context, so each new church will be unique in how it is resourced. The level and length of funding depends on many variables that will be considered as the project is being developed.
7) What other resources or help is available from the Northwest Conference for church planters?
We provide assessment as we have already discussed, and then we provide ongoing coaching, training, and support for all of our new churches. We host 3 national Church Planter Training Center’s each year where the planter and 3 others from the developing church can attend and receive helpful training on all aspects of church planting. We also have an online resource center on this website that provides many additional tools to assist and help our churches.
We will never send someone out with a little money and a handshake to start a new church. We are very intentional about the level of support, coaching and resourcing for each of our planters and new churches. We provide monthly onsite coaching as well as monthly Church Planter Connection Gatherings where we engage in intentional coaching and resourcing. In those gatherings we utilize experts in the field of church planting and take advantage of the best possible resources.
We want you to thrive and impact the Kingdom in powerful ways so we do our best to resource you with the best coaching and tools currently available.
8) What is the level of accountability for new church plants?
We are interested in planting Evangelical Covenant Churches that will have as much kingdom impact as possible. The best way for us to accomplish that goal is to have a strong partnership with each new church that is planted. We believe that God calls a church planter and so we have no interest in micro-managing the details of each new church. While we do believe in some shared DNA in each of our new churches (see our Covenant Affirmations), we provide lots of room for the individual expression of each new church God is calling into existence.
For others in the Northwest Conference to support you there must be agreement on your plan, key strategies, and confidence that you are exercising good stewardship of the resources entrusted to you. You will be expected to participate in Conference gatherings, Church Planter Connection events, training, and coaching as outlined by the conference Director of Church Planting. We also require each of our church planters to complete a simple monthly report. That report allows the coach assigned to that church planter to know how to best resource that individual and church.
9) How can our church be involved in the mission of church planting?
a) First, you can pray for church planting in the Northwest Conference. If you are interested in becoming a part of the Northwest Conference S.W.A.T. (Spiritual Warfare and Thanksgiving) prayer team you can click on the link on this page and provide your e-mail information. We will keep you posted on prayer needs for our current church planting pastors, their churches, challenges being faced, future projects, and praises as God moves and works in the area of church planting. Church Planting is and always will be, first and foremost, a spiritual exercise. Your prayers are needed.
b) The next step is to help your church become aware of the potential to extend its reach through church planting. There are brochures available on this website or available from the Northwest Conference office that will answer many of the questions your church might have about church planting. You can also invite the Northwest Conference Director of Church Planting to come to your church to make a presentation and answer any questions there might be about church planting.
c) The third step you can take is to commit to support a new church planting project by committing financial resources. You can also support the movement of church planting by being willing to send some people out to help create a launch team for a new work. You can also provide hands-on help during critical times during the launch of a new church.