Eugene Cho

churchplanting assessment

I was out in Detroit last week for several days participating as as assessor in a Churchplanting Assessment or Bootcamp for the Evangelical Covenant Church [which also explains why the week was so crazy].  While I am part of the large “C” hurch, this is the “team” I have chosen to invest much of my energy and time as well as place myself in accountability.  While I still have friends that rib me for joining this denomination or a denomination altogether, I am at peace and conviction that I do not want to be part of a church or a pastor as an island to myself.  Exactly five years ago, Minhee and I were participants as “candidates” in a similar assessment.  Last week, it was a little surreal to be on the other end – working with a team of twelve other pastors/churchplanters assessing 10 churchplanting candidates and their spouses [there were two single pastors] from around the country.  I felt very burdened with the responsibility…

I would argue that it is much more burdensome on this end as an assessor.  The entire assessment is frankly brutal.  Four nights and three days of case studies, preaching, interviews, group exercises, countless conversations, psychological tests, and a session with a shrink.  I was there partly to sponsor a couple from Quest Church who’s hoping to plant a church in Bellingham, WA. 

Churchplanting can be exhausting, brutal, gutwrenching, and [put your adjective here].  Being a pastor is a calling; Churchplanting in itself is also a calling.  Not all pastors can be good churchplanters but all churchplanters must be good pastors.  While the Covenant is far from a perfect denomination, I very much appreciate their commitment to churchplanting as well as multiculturalism, social justice and global missions/world relief.  Yes, this is the same Covenant with the Swedish roots…  And I’m always amazed at the diversity of the fairly recent Covenant churches from around the country.  For example, did you know that the following churches are connected to the Covenant:

Approximately 80% of churchplants fail in their first year.  Yet, within the ECC, 86% of its churchplants in the past decade are still around.  I confimed that last week which is pretty stunning.  Here’s a list of the churches planted in the past five years through the Covenant.

While the ECC churchplanting system seems a little outdated to me and needs some remodeling, I very much appreciate their prayerful and meticulous nature through the assessment and training, their commitment to the souls of the pastors and their spouses, and the fact that they put their money where their mouth is meaning they don’t just pray for you…  Lastly, the Covenant supports women in ministry and leadership and that is an important issue in my heart and at Quest.  While I have a level of respect for the Acts 29 network and especially it’s commitment to biblical orthodoxy and cultural relevance, I want folks to know that there are other alternatives besides Acts 29.  Check out the Covenant.  If you’re interested, let me know.

Filed under: church, churchplanting, emerging church, ministry

9 Responses

  1. Pat says:

    Great story, Eugene. It’s good to hear of Covenant’s success rates with church plants. And I had no idea that Pagitt and crew were in your family too – nor several of the other churches you link to that I’ve run across.

    Hey, not sure if you know that Ed Cook @ Seattle Vineyard just finished up a dissertation on mentoring church planters. It’s really good. Bug him for a copy 🙂

  2. Jennifer says:

    I really appreciate the Covenant’s stand on women too 🙂 🙂

    I’m not thrilled about the *evangelical* part of Evangelical Covenant (being identified as an “evangelical” has so much cultural baggage), but it seems like a lot of people drop that when talking about them anyway.

  3. daniel so says:

    Eugene — Thanks for sharing. I had actually been wondering why you had gone to Detroit (as you mentioned in a previous post) 🙂

    It is really encouraging to hear that you have not only been faithful to plant a church, but also to be part of the discernment process for other church planters. Tons of work to be part of the assessment team, I’m sure, but it’s vital to have the counsel of people who have gone through it themselves.

    My wife and I have been thinking about the ECC… All of the distinctives you mentioned (global mission *and* justice, men *and* women in ministry, commitment to diversity) really resonate with us. We’re still discerning whether or not God is calling us to plant a church but, if we do, the ECC sounds amazing…

    Congrats on your recent unity celebration over at Quest!

  4. e cho says:

    jennifer: i can’t tell you how many instances i’ve had where people just freak out when i mention the name of our denomination.

    i really do believe that in the next few years, the name will change. it will need to change. it really has no inherent value to the denominatino imo. ‘covenant’ is important but the ‘e’ word doesn’t.

    daniel: when you’re ready, let me know so i can tell you the things that are imperfect about the ecc. like all groups, it has its quirks, blemishes, and such.

  5. Rex Hamilton says:

    I too appreciate what the Covenant is doing for church planters. I am a pastor within the Assembly of God and our denomination is seriously behind in this. Your affiliation with the ECC is not only encouraging to pastors and leaders but sets good examples to other denominations as a whole. For that, I thank you as I’m tired of seeing friends try so hard to plant churches yet feel isolated from their denomination.

  6. Wayne Park says:

    That was an amazing experience. I dunno if you and Minhee felt pumped after assessment but we’ve been on adrenaline rush ever since. But we’re coming back to earth now. I wonder tho.. what were some of those cuckoo things discussed about us. I guess I’ll never know.

  7. chad says:

    the “e” word! that’s why some of us want to go back to the Mission Friends name…what a concept! Friends, on a mission….

  8. Lon says:

    awesome, thanks for the insights!

  9. phyllis myung says:

    hey eugene,
    this was awesome! a couple from highrock went to this assessment actually… it’s neat to see the other perspective. thanks!

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Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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