The term Dr. Charles Ridley uses for this essential church planter competency is “contextualizing.” A planter who is responsive to the community, “discerns the culture of the local context and implements redemptive ministries that meet the needs of people.”

“Responsiveness of the community” includes behaviors like these below—and getting a behavioral church planter assessment can measure a planter candidate’s level of effectiveness in this area.

  • Finds the unique pulse and character of local communities
  • Adapts philosophy of ministry to fit the character of the community
  • Mobilizes the church to meet specific needs in a community
  • Utilizes community outreach to build the church
  • Prioritizes ministry opportunities based on resources and potential impact

The two parts of being responsive to the community…

One interesting aspect of being responsive to the community is its two-fold nature. To be effective in this competency, a planter must both read the community needs and seek to respond to those needs in a way that helps create true ministry, not just a social service. The ministry must have a redemptive purpose: an opportunity for people to cross the bridge into the spiritual realm if they so desire. That’s finding the uniqueness of the community and figuring out how to best connect with it.

Bridging community needs and spiritual needs…

A church planter once spent a lot of time driving around her community and hanging out to observe the needs. She saw a lot of senior citizens, especially senior women. She also saw a lot of young families with children. So this planter decided to start a mom’s day out program and staffed it with senior women. The arrangement seems to bring together a lot of different needs. The young mothers got a break, the senior women got more connection, and the children got excellent care. The senior women who served together once a week also got together one other day of the week for a fun social activity for just them. Cross-generational relationships were established. Over time, enough trust was developed to begin having spiritual conversations. This lead to several of the people—from all three generations— attending the church. This is a great example of a holistic ministry that helps create a bridge between meeting temporal needs and meeting spiritual needs.

More resources…

The Church Planting Journey- This newly released book is a comprehensive guide for the church planter. It is the culmination of experience that includes being a church planter myself, and coaching and consulting church planters for more than 40 years. Within the pages of The Church Planting Journey, you will find wisdom, systems, and processes that can help you launch well and sustain your unique vision and call.

The Church Planter Assessment- Whether you are thinking about church planting or are already in the process, the Church Planter Behavioral Assessment is a valuable tool. To learn more about how you can be assessed email us at

The Missional Journey- This book brings together many ideas surrounding the topic of what it is to be missional. Insights and solid biblical content describe the work of the church clearly no matter what model or definition the reader has of the church. Its all about the Kingdom of God… are we doing the work that Jesus entrusted to us as his disciples?