We are proud that our start-up is part of Converge Worldwide's church advancement movement.
Dr. Ed Stetzer calls Converge “one of the leading church planting organizations in the United States.”
Converge is a movement of about 1,200 churches with a strong reproducing church-planting focus. Over the past 20 years, Converge has doubled the size of their network solely through church start-ups!
Amber and I spent a week in Chicago a while back being assessed by 15 Converge pastors and some Fortune 500 psychoanalysts -- personality profiles, stress-enducing-simulations, 360-degree interviews, the works. It was awesome.
I know many church planters read this blog and I wanted to provide an assessment of our assessment. Perhaps Converge is a network you might explore partnering with.
"We have to go back in order to go forward."
That was the realization my wife and I came to when Converge decided to fly us out to Chicago for a week-long assessment.
You see, I love Chicago. Old Town. Logan Square. Wicker Park. It was the campus of my college years, live theater days, and the launching pad of married life. Before we could move forward toward a new chapter in our lives, we had to go back to where our story began.
The setting was a historic old church building nestled in Wrigleyville, now home to Missio Dei:
The assessment process was intense: we were interviewed extensively, wrote dissertation-length papers on our histories, undertook several psychological tests, presented a number of up-front messages followed by Q&A's, and simulated real-world church start-up situations.
I say "we" because my wife had to be independently assessed too: Amber went through the evangelism simulation solo. She had to submit to tough psychological testing and group exercises. This was the first church planting assessment I've been a part of that actually tested the wife too!
There was even a written pop quiz on the Bible that was tougher than any test I ever took in seminary.
After each 12-hour day, we would return to our hotel in the evening absolutely spent.
Having gone through two church planting assessments with our Ohio plant and
having served as an Assessor with Acts 29, I can tell you that Converge's approach is exhaustive, gospel-centered, thorough, and yet deeply caring to the individual.
“No man ever steps in the same river twice,
for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.”
Along the way, experienced leadership vet Marlan Mincks shared several messages that really spoke to my heart. I had never heard of Marlan before, but holy smokes, the man drips with humble wisdom. My hands were scribbling notes quickly from Marlan's talks:
Marlan's talks really helped Amber and I fully understand and find peace about some past experiences in ministry. We had been walking around wounded and carrying a great deal of unworthiness that was fueled by the Enemy's whispers. Marlan spoke truth wrapped in grace into our hearts, helping us see through the gospel's prism that we were guilt-free. Further, I felt freed from the trappings of expectations and performance that so many pastors are often weighed down by.
What spoke most to me was when Marlan shared his personal story of being misunderstood by a pocket of fellow Christians and the dismissive rejection that followed. The pain in his eyes reflecting that season of his life was genuine.
Hearing the other side of that season in Marlan's life was healing to me: he moved forward with God's calling on his life to plant a church that, years later, has reaped great fruit. Folks from his former ministry have even sought him out to repent and reconcile. Years later, Marlan has been witness to the gospel's healing touch in many relationships.
This meant a lot to me. The gospel truly is the power of God. Marlan's story gives me hope. There is meaning in the woundedness and sanctification borne from scars. Marlan helped me realize that our experiences are used for God's glory as we lead with a limp. The gift of my journey is that I have a deeper compassion now as a pastor and will have a better capacity to understand the dynamics of deep loss in situations such as sudden divorce, life crises, and death.
When God has an impossible task, He takes an impossible man, and crushes him. The crushing is a blessing.
God used Marlan to breathe redemption into our lives: when Jesus frees a slave from suffering, that is biblical redemption. I am deeply thankful for Marlan's words and wisdom.
Converge is completely thorough, and Converge deeply cares.
Since Amber and I are learning-nuts, we really enjoyed another feature of Converge Assessments: the detailed unpacking of your psychological evaluations. I've taken tests like DISC and StrengthFinders before, but to have two Fortune 500 shrinks actually sit down and explain in great detail what your profile means and how it impacts not only your ministry but your marriage was invaluable. Amber and I both felt empowered with new relational tools for life.
(Jonathan Herron) is a person of high integrity, has a strong ally in his spouse, has a deep commitment to reaching the lost, is self-assured and evokes a confident image, is calm in the storm of his circumstances which projects faith, is a learner and seeks wise input to navigate difficult situations.
I appreciate Converge's final assessment report because its impartial, exhaustive, and predictive of future performance. Converge offered us a generous matching grant and continues to coach, pray, and cheer us on. I even invited two of our assessors to serve on Life's Board of Directors.
Moving forward, I am a sold-out fan of Converge.
You can't plant alone, and Converge ensures you are equipped and cared for.
I'm excited to contribute toward the movement in the years ahead and pray for God's Hand to continue guiding Converge's explosive growth.
We'd love to have you join us - It All Begins Sep 16th!