Iglesia Real in Hollywood hosted the assessors and four church planters along with their wives for the two-day assessment which included interviews, lectures, and exercises in vision casting and preaching among others.
“This is a pilot for us,” said Michele Barnett, director of SEND Network assessments at NAMB. “We’ve had bilingual assessments in the past, but this is the first one done fully in Spanish.” Having a Spanish assessment retreat wasn’t just about having translated resources but “wanting to assess planters in their context…that was the heart behind it.” And it was something NAMB had been dreaming about for about four years, she added.The NAMB assessment retreats are designed to measure the planters’ church planting readiness in nine essential areas: calling, emotional and spiritual health, family dynamics, vision, leadership, communication, missional engagement, disciple-making and social skills. At the end of the two-day retreat the team of assessors connect to make a recommendation and develop a growth plan. There are four possible outcomes a planter can receive:
- Ready: You are thoroughly prepared for the next phase of the church planter pathway which is to enter into the Send Network Training.
- Ready with Conditions: You are ready to enter into the Send Network Training, but there is an issue or concern. Proceed in the church planting process while working with a coach on strengthening that area.
- Further Development Needed: There are several areas indicating you are not yet ready to plant in this context. A recommendation toward a church planting internship is likely. A development plan will be drawn up and given to you as well as a timeline for when you will be eligible for reassessment.
- Cautioned: In some cases, the greatest gift that can be given to you is the honest appraisal that church planting is not likely your path in ministry. This transparency will save you from some painful and discouraging days.
“We are setting a historic precedent,” said Martin Vargas, pastor of Iglesias Real. “The team of assessors is made up of people from different countries and all have experience planting churches in Spanish.”The four planters being assessed included two from Florida, one from Arizona and one from West Virginia. All were planning to plant Spanish speaking churches to reach Hispanics in their particular contexts.
Planters’ wives were also assessed. Noemi Fernandez, planters’ wife’s assessor and wife to Al Fernandez, southeast regional catalyst of the Florida Baptist Convention, said that all were most concerned about finances, but all also trusted God to provide.
Fernandez, who planted a church alongside her husband, says that she encouraged them with this simple metaphor: “Church planting is like jumping overboard wearing a life jacket and heading towards the shore never looking back and knowing that Jesus is waiting for you on land.”