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While the ECC churchplanting system seems a little outdated to me and needs some remodeling, I very much appreciate their prayerful and meticulous nature through the assessment and training, their commitment to the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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Still my baby son! This was 10 years ago. I dominated my son in wrestling and I know what you're thinking, "How could you employ a rear chokehold armbar kimura on your own son?" Hey, a competition is a competition.

I love you, son. The world is broken. This ia a sad truth. But the story of redemption is not yet finished. God is not yet done. This is the ultimate Truth. Have hope. Press on. Ten years ago, I witnessed one of those "God things" when a church called Interbay Covenant Church gave itself, its legacy, and a building property worth $7 million dollars to @seattlequest. We were then only 5 years old.

Quest is an urban, multiethnic churchplant that started in 2001. We rented the facilities at Interbay Covenant Church - a predominantly older, mostly Anglo congregation with a rich 65 years history. After some time, Pastor Ray Bartel (senior pastor, Interbay) approached me with a "crazy idea" of Interbay "dying to itself and giving itself to Quest" for the sake of the greater Kingdom and the coming generations.

This eventually led to three years of many conversations and prayers. On June 3, 2007, the two churches officially came together to become one church. In giving itself, Interbay also shared their leadership, legacy, and stories. They also gave all of their assets without any strings and without any debt.

Their radical generosity and courage is what enabled Quest to grow - not just numerically - but deeper in discipleship, and deeper in missions - to the city of Seattle and beyond. On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of this merger, we created a short film (check my FB page to see the video) to tell the story - so that our church and the next generations may never forget and that the larger Church may be stirred and encouraged by a greater Kingdom vision.

Thank you, Interbay! The NBA season is over but the hustle and grind continues for my daughter. We argue sometimes but I love training my daughter. She's working hard for her senior year next year. Starting point guard. She's improved a lot. She's one of the quickest players on the floor and has a great midrange jumper. But trying to get her to keep working on her handles, using her off hand and shoulder to protect the ball,  staying and dribbling the ball lower to the ground, and playing aggressive and downhill while remaining in control. That's what we're working on this week. #hoopdreams #ChovarBall Reunited with my favorite elephant, Buh'loom. We bonded earlier this year and I'd like to think that she recognized my voice. Also, appreciate learning about ethical and sustainable eco-tourism.

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