Training urban pastors and planters in context (part 3): Assessment – a proposal

I’ve written a few times on about the need to think again about how we train pastors and planters for urban ministry.[1] As you know I have been arguing that we should be aiming to train people in context who for all sorts of reasons may not be able to access seminary based training. However, we also want to ensure that those trainee pastors benefit from the same quality of training. 

In past articles, we’ve talked about the goals of training and the sort of curriculum we might want to see. I want to talk now about possible assessment and accreditation.

Here’s the proposal.

  1. Some form of certification accredited by the key organisations including theological colleges, Acts 29, FIEC, Church Planting Initiative. The message we want to get across is that this is genuine, good quality training. We are not offering something dumbed down.


  1. The Certificate would build up a bit like a record of achievement to show those areas where the particular trainee had developed gifting and ability.


  1. Assessment would include


  1. Observation
  2. Oral Interview
  3. Written Assessment


  1. Assessment criteria would be less about getting a grade and more about giving the following feedback about the following

–          Did the trainee understand the subject matter?

–          Was the trainee able to communicate the subject matter effectively? This includes both tone and content.

–          Was the trainee able to interact effectively with alternative approaches to the subject. This includes where they able to identify strengths and weaknesses in other views, modify their own view, distinguish truth from error?

  1. For each of those questions I would answer in terms of the following options:

–          Yes, the trainee was able to do this satisfactorily

–          Yes, the trainee was able to do this to a certain extent but with some significant gaps (identify)

–          No, the trainee was not able to do this.

  1. Next, I want to know whether they are able to do this consistently so the final assessment record needs to look at repeatability
  2. A few people have noted that people may be able to use their gifts effectively in their own specific context. So, my next question is about whether or not they are able to communicate across contexts.
  3. There will be particular areas where the individual is particularly gifted and has a specific contribution to make. The Certificate could highlight these.
  4. Assessment could happen in context, so a local pastor could make the assessment. I think this is where the Union and Oak Hill MTH programmes come in as a means for identifying suitable mentors/trainers. I suggest that this is supported by partner assessment, so an independent assessor would come in to give a second opinion. The Theological colleges would also moderate work.
  5. At the end, the person is not just getting a piece of paper but the certificate and record of achievement will help them to be aware of their gifts and where there are gaps. Similarly a receiving church or mission organisation would have something helpful both in terms of initial assessment and ongoing support. The certificate would double up as a reference and include comment on character, temperament, experience etc.


So, there’s the proposal. If anyone’s interested in helping to make it happen get in touch.

[1] See and