Parakaleo: A Vital Partner in Assessing Church Planters
Though urban legends abound about what exactly happens at assessment, we can definitively say that there are no surveillance cameras involved!
“Assessment is critical to our mission of planting biblically healthy churches with called and gifted planters. It’s the doorway into most church planting in the PCA,” notes Ted Powers, Church Planting Coordinator.
The denomination has been assessing candidates since the early 1980s, and the process has grown and developed over the years, with measurable results.
“For the last five to seven years, over 90% of PCA church plants have been successful,” Powers reports. “By that, I mean they are still running or have particularized.” (In the PCA, a church plant becomes particularized when it elects its own elders.) “The general rule of thumb is a 25% success rate; three out of four church plants across all denominations don’t make it.”
Powers notes several factors that contribute to this success rate: improved training, ongoing coaching, and “support like Parakaleo that trains and comes alongside church planting spouses. All of that together is leading to a far healthier church planting ecosystem.”
Parakaleo founder Shari Thomas researched and developed the church leader’s spouse inventory used in assessment. It provides an opportunity to assess her core competencies and identify any areas where she would benefit from support or coaching.
Powers sees Parakaleo’s cooperation with the assessment process as “really advantageous.” “Parakaleo knows what the challenges are. Our goal is to have a representative from Parakaleo at each assessment. This exposes church planters to the ministry of Parakaleo so that right out of the gate, these connections are made.”
The most recent assessment, held in Atlanta during a notable “ice event,” was attended by eight candidate couples and eight assessors. Parakaleo’s Tami Resch and Maria Garriott served as assessors.
“It was an honor to meet these committed, mature couples and encourage them in their journey toward church planting,” says Garriott. “It’s a very thorough process, and we are collectively able to help them identify their strengths and flag any potential problem areas. We also tell them about how Parakaleo can help with ongoing training, coaching and support.”
In their post-assessment evaluations, couples expressed appreciation for their interaction with assessors, who offered “coaching and personal, experienced insight at every turn, including both men and women.”
“Building relationships with other candidates and the assessors was the most valuable. It allowed us to interact with a variety of stories, calls, and people to learn more about ourselves and church planting. We were so blessed an encouraged by this experience. Thank you!”