Discovering personal uniqueness enables us to understand how God has designed us and what our personal mission should be. Additionally, understanding our uniqueness leads to strengthening our relationships in the home, church, and workplace. Likewise, it is crucial for the local church to discover its uniqueness in fulfilling the biblical mission.

BBM, from its beginning, recognized the uniqueness of pastors (actually all disciples) and the uniqueness of every church. First, our ministry has been built on seeking to encourage and equip pastors based on their own personal profiles. Secondly, a common statement I have made is, “Our ministry is not seeking to make your church what another church is, but helping your church to discover how God has designed your church.”

Recently I have been introduced to two books. (1) Pastor Unique – Becoming a Turnaround Leader by Lavern E Brown, Gordon E Penfod, and Gary J Westra. (2) Church Unique by Will Mancini. The encouraging thing about both of these books is that they are a confirmation of our ministry with BBM.

Both of these books recognize the need for assessments that are similar to our ministries with BBM. For many years, our ministry has offered several assessments:
Church Assessments that include both a questionnaire type survey and personal interactions with focus groups.
An Evaluation Report enabling the church to see the need to “Design a Strategic Impact Plan.” This process identifies potential resistance and strengths on which the church can make an impact.
Pastoral Assessments and individual assessments based on the PLACE Assessment.  PLACE helps in discovering Personality, Spiritual Gifts, Abilities, Passion, and Experience.
Pastor/Church Assessment Alignment seeking to match a pastoral profile with the church profile. Additionally, equipping the church leadership to discover their own uniqueness and aligning with the church assessment increases both the effectiveness of the pastor and church.

Identifying the pastor’s uniqueness and the uniqueness of the church are essential to beginning to build a strategy for accomplishing the biblical mission of the church. Unfortunately, some churches have lost sight of the biblical mission. Therefore, a significant part of this process is teaching the church what the biblical mission is or at least refreshing their understanding.

We have learned that an objective consultant/coach can increase the effectiveness of using assessment tools. Additionally, the consultant working with focus groups in the church can help to confirm the results of assessments. Another advantage of a consultant is they are often able to help people within the church see needs for changes and embrace potential strategies.

The New Testament epistles written to the various churches reveal how each church had unique characteristics. Leadership in these churches needed unique abilities to deal with the cultural, theological, and practical issues of each church. The division of Paul and Barnabus over John Mark reveals the different styles of leadership that God uses to accomplish His goals. It is interesting to study the uniqueness of each of the New Testament churches. (Perhaps at another time this could be series of Equipper articles.)

During a time of pastoral transition, understanding the uniqueness of the church and pastor is critical in making the right decisions. The transition time is also an opportunity to discover the uniqueness of the local church. A personal observation is that many churches in transition are more interested in filling a position than taking time to assess the needs of the church. The results of failing to clearly identify uniqueness often lead to short term and/or ineffective ministries.
The next few issues of the Equipper will expand on key areas of the importance of understanding uniqueness. These areas will include understanding pastoral uniqueness, church uniqueness, and the uniqueness of pastoral transition.