Black and white photo of church with a square drawn around the church in ink.

A Practical Theology of Assessment

Theology of Assessment

A Practical Theology of Assessment
By Don Wiggins and John Bradley
Christian & Missionary Alliance: 2015

In this book, Dr. John Bradley, Western Seminary graduate, has teamed with Dr. Don Wiggins to chronicle the development and growth of the IDAK assessment tools developed by Bradley and implemented by Wiggins in the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA) movement for the past 25 years. Wiggins asserts that the use of these assessment tools has allowed them to effectively improve “pastor placements and significantly increased the success of church plants (p. v.)”

Bradley named his company IDAK to represent a person’s unique identity: “ID = identity plus AK = the Hebrew equivalent of uniqueness (p. 5)”. The IDAK assessment has two primary components: temperament and natural talents. Primary temperament traits measured by IDAK are tested character, appropriate self-esteem, self-discipline, optimism, and team player ability. Twenty seven secondary temperament traits are also part of the assessment.

The unique contribution that IDAK makes to the vocational discovery field is the matching of these talents to 90,000 different actual jobs.

IDAK identifies fifty-four natural talents which are divided into three categories: Communicational, Relational, and Functional (task-oriented traits). Fifteen traits make up the communicational division and include items such as giving speeches, writing, art, and acting. Relational traits are divided into three ways that trust bonds are formed with others: multi-relational, familiar group relational, and singular relational. Thirty-six traits are considered functional talents and include classifying, calculating numbers, creating, managing established groups, and promoting.

The unique contribution that IDAK makes to the vocational discovery field is the matching of these talents to 90,000 different actual jobs. The outcome of the extensive personal assessment, a written report, and a personal meeting with a trained advisor is the description of organizations and job titles that match the talents of the person being assessed.

Bradley’s biblical support for his strategy is based on his study of the Hebrew word chokmah used in the Old Testament which is used for both the idea of “wisdom” and the idea of “skill.”   He asserts that to pursue wisdom is to pursue one’s God-given skill. He also supports his position with passages such as Psalm 139:13-16 and Ephesians 2:10, as well as other passages.

After describing the assessment approach in the IDAK strategy, Wiggins and Bradley proceed to discuss the ups and downs of using assessment tools and developing a placement strategy in the Christian and Missionary Alliance movement. They describe meetings with candidates about placement. Descriptions of meetings with denominational district leaders provide interesting insights into the challenges of implementing assessment strategies among pastoral leadership.

I’m writing this review as one who has taken the training to be an IDAK career match advisor and thus, am already convinced that this is a high quality strategy. I found that my own assessment was reliable and the career match process has been helpful in my work with others.

I believe Bradley has provided a valuable resource for use in vocational guidance. I do think the analysis of a person’s spiritual gifts should be part of the process, but others have produced assessments that can be used for this. My take on “calling” to ministry differs to some degree with Wiggins and Bradley, but I do like their emphasis on the need for community confirmation and the importance of suitable God-given talents for pastoral ministry. I am also impressed with the hard work done to improve the process of pastoral placement in the Christian and Missionary Alliance movement. I think this book will be especially valuable for organizations who are assessing people for vocational ministry.

About Ron Marrs

Ron Marrs is presently a Professor of Youth and Pastoral Ministry and Chairman of the Center for Ministry and Leadership at Western Seminary, Portland, OR. Ron is the leader of the Portland Youth Workers Network. He served at Westwood Baptist Church, a Converge church, for 24.5 years primarily as the youth pastor and then as executive/worship pastor. He has been married to Becky for 35 years, has three children and three grandsons. He is an elder at Hinson Baptist Church. He recently completed doctoral research in which he interviewed 26 people about their rookie youth pastor experiences along with 24 of their supervisors.