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The Right Stuff, The Right Heart

Philip Kaufman’s movie, The Right Stuff, traced the birth of the U.S. space program. Much of the drama revolves around whether fighter jet pilots have the “right stuff” to be launched out of the earth’s atmosphere as a new breed called “astronauts.” As C2C Network assesses, coaches, trains and supports church planters, we begin a similar journey of discernment, asking whether the leader or couple professing a call to church planting has the “right stuff.”

The church has historically identified certain building blocks which constitute “the right stuff’ for a leader who is launching a new faith community. Charles Ridley identified thirteen characteristics for a successful church planter. These were modified and expanded into fifteen characteristics, adopted by the C2C Canadian Church Planting Assessment Centers. The fifteen qualities taken together form a rubric for assessing the church planting candidate.

The first five qualities are: emotional health; relational ability; marriage and familial strength; personal integrity; and relationship with God. These qualities are deemed non-negotiable. In 2015, we transitioned from the classic Ridley-based matrix to a Church Leader Inventory (CLI) with ten dimensions. These dimensions are: integrity, personal spirituality, missional engagement, visioning capacity, Gospel communication, learning agility, emotional stability, family life, and leadership courage.

These are lenses through which candidates are viewed during C2C’s assessment process. It is intense, but that is not without cause. Historically, church planting has been easy to enter into and, subsequently, easy to fail at. Like a funnel, it has been wide at the top, with lots of church planters entering the fray, and narrow at the bottom, with few healthy leaders and self-sustaining works after five years. We estimate that some twelve years ago, church plant failure was 70%-80%! C2C Network inverted the funnel, making it harder to enter church planting, but also significantly harder to fail.

Typically, the assessment center is a three-day experience where planter couples and single candidates are asked to role play, do leadership exercises, meet with a therapist who probes for areas of concern, and do up-front presentations. There are leadership profiles, personality tests, diagnostics, multiple interactions, interviews and much intercession! Our assessment team is ever mindful that we need the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and discernment as we put candidates through these grueling paces.

We put stock on the ten dimensions. We stand by our taxing assessment procedures. However, our North American mission field demands more than the “right stuff.” Church planters need the “right heart.”

Soren Kierkegaard claimed, “This age will die not as a result of some evil, but from a lack of passion.” We need leaders who love Jesus passionately and are passionate about making him known. We need church planters who echo the heart cry of Paul, the urban church planter:

“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:10). We need leaders who are hungry for Jesus and for a deepening intimacy with him. We need leaders who burn with a desire to announce God’s great news and who resonate with Paul’s burden: “For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16).

We need a new breed of leaders who ache for the lost, whose hearts have been infected with Jesus’ heart for those who do not know him. In Luke 19:10, Jesus says, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost”, laying bare his beating heart. In Matthew 23:37-39, he reveals his agitation at Jerusalem’s waywardness. We need leaders whose hearts are stirred by the rebellion and lost-ness of their cities. We need a fresh wave of leaders who are fuelled by Jesus’ tenderness and compassion for those who have lost their way. Jesus looked out on a vast crowd and his heart was stirred: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). We need the right stuff, impelled by the right heart.

The love of God for a broken cosmos - a runaway planet populated by a rebel race - fueled the divine rescue mission: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). It was the relentless, furious love of God that compelled the spotless Son of God to offer up his life on the cross. Octavius Winslow exclaimed, “Who delivered up Jesus to die? Not Judas, for money; not Pilate, for fear; not the Jews, for envy, but the Father - for love!’” We need Gospel leaders fueled by that blazing love.

Our North American context needs leaders who are passionate about Jesus, passionate about his gospel and passionate to reach the lost. We need leaders with the right stuff, but this present age demands something more. Will you join us in praying for a new wave of Gospel pioneers with passionate hearts? Let us press into 10:02 prayer, and ask the Lord of the harvest to raise up and deploy anointed leaders whose hearts are ablaze for Christ, committed to spreading Jesus’ name and fame from sea to sea.


By Bill Hogg




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The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for the numerical growth of the body of Christ in a city and the continual renewal and revival of the existing church in a city.
— Dr. Tim Keller

We are enjoying the favor and blessing of God as the Lord expands the network and increases Gospel opportunities. We rejoice in new churches planted and new people drawn to Jesus.

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