Step Three: Finding/Making Contacts

We are continuing with step three in the series: “Ten Practical Steps For Planting New Churches,” written by Rev. Manuel Molina Flores.

When we began the Church of the Nazarene in La Concordia (Mexico), our first action was to visit the families in the neighborhood and introduce ourselves as new neighbors.  We told them we were Christians and that we wanted to serve them.  Some people asked us a few questions about our faith, and others simply rejected us, but in the end, we knew our neighbors.  And we had the list of contacts we wanted.

It is important to determine the most effective methods to identify receptive people.  In this community, we used the Jesus Film, visited door-to-door with the Evangecube, visited people to pray for them, did Maximum Mission projects, and celebrated important days, like Mother’s Day, Children’s Day, etc.

It is important for the church planter to pray daily for the contacts on the list and organize a schedule with the goal of meeting with them again.

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A contact is someone who, in following our plans, we will see again in order to cultivate a friendship and provide Biblical teaching.

Contact cards are our primary tool to continue in communication with a person we are trying to win to Christ. Along with personal information, it should contain information about their needs as well as notes about the results of our visits.  One of the main values of these cards is that they help us to focus in daily, intercessory prayer for those individuals.  We learn to pray for the people who demonstrate interest in the message we have shared.

To optimize this process, we must be disciplined in the use of an appointment book.  At the beginning of each week, using the contact cards in prayer, organize your schedule around the people you want to visit.  Then add your additional activities and responsibilities.  Begin each day praying for the people on the contact cards and preparing yourself for the visits you have on your schedule.

Principle:

Sow lots of seeds in order to receive an abundant harvest.

Successfully planting a church requires sowing abundantly. Abundant sowing will bring to light those who are “good soil” and ready for eternal life.  Through home visits, special events, film projection, etc., a church planter must establish as many personal relationships as possible, and then through those relationships win others to Christ.  We must be persistent.  There will be some people who only make a decision for Christ after many visits.

Emphasize relationships over activities

Our effectiveness in evangelism is directly related to the number of authentic relationships we are able to establish.  We should avoid any activity that does not produce fruitful contacts. If we only interact with the households that began the work, always doing our work near them, we will never advance towards our established goals.

Have a follow-up plan for the contacts

Independent of the method we use, evangelism requires prayer, planning, time and effort.  Church planters should avoid falling into either of two extremes: 1) Wasting time using impersonal methods that do not serve to win people to Christ, or 2) Limiting ourselves to only casual encounters without a plan.

***Learn Step 4 of this church-planting series in the following article.

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Step Two: Planning

Today we continue with Step 2 in the series: Ten Practical Steps For Planting New Churches,” written by Rev. Manuel Molina Flores.

Every project requires planning. Jesus taught us no one begins to build without first calculating the cost.  This does not mean we must wait until we have all resources in hand before planting a church.  We know it is a work of faith and that Jesus taught us we do not need to bring along a cloak or a bag for money, but rather that we should trust the One who has power over all of heaven and earth.  The One with this authority is the one who sends us into the fields.  Planning is better applied to strategy we should follow in our new church planting effort and in learning the characteristics of the community we hope to contact. For instance: Who are they? Where are they? What types of jobs are common? How do they live? What do they believe? What needs to they have? What services do they have? How do they govern themselves? Are they receptive or resistant to the gospel? Etc.

Plan for the church to grow beyond your abilities to lead it.

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If the Ten Steps are faithfully implemented, the inevitable result will be the founder of the church will realize it is impossible to do all the work.  The founder will be forced to transfer some ministry responsibilities to the new believers.

We must learn that this is one of the most important and positive moments in our ministry, and we must be willing to live with the frustrations, tensions and problems that forcibly produce these transitions.  Our true identity will be reflected in the multiplication of our vision and convictions in the lives of the new leaders.  It will not be reflected in rotating the people, programs and activities around us.  Nor is the solution “importing” leaders from other places to attend to the needs in the new church.  It is more probable that these approaches will produce problems.

Principle:

Evangelism must be planned in the life of the church or it will NOT succeed.

***We will continue this series with step three in our next article.

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Step One: Intentional Prayer

This is the first step in the series: “Ten Practical Steps For Planting New Churches,” written by Rev. Manuel Molina Flores.

Prayer begins with the church planter or the mother church when they discover God is guiding them to plant a church in a particular place. Pray for:

  • Local leaders who will participate in the project
  • A strategy
  • The people you hope to win to Christ
  • The material resources you will need
  • Community leaders
  • Permits and approvals you will need

Prayer will become one of the disciplines of growth for the new disciples.  It will become a daily part of their new lives.

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We must persist in prayer with expectant hearts (Col. 4:2-4), expecting God to bring receptive individuals and to guide us in what we will say.  In that way we will be sure it is NOT human strategies that guide our ministry, but rather the Holy Spirit.  This approach establishes a pattern of dependence on the Holy Spirit essential for success in following the steps in our strategy as founders of the new church (Zechariah 4:6).

Through prayer, the Holy Spirit will come to be our guide when we allow him to direct our methods and most effective tools.  Sometimes we do not have access to sufficient funds to purchase materials, but the Holy Spirit’s help will be fundamental in giving creative ideas to the church planter or cell group leader.

For example, we use a map to pray for the city. We put our hands on it and ask God to direct us to the place ready to receive the Word. Later, we pray while we walk the streets of some hidden place.  Many times, the response of a family that will open their home to the church has come first in the streets where we begin to pray.

Principle:

Prayer must be modeled by the church planter, not only taught.

***In the next article we will continue with Step 2. 

 

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Ten Practical Steps For Planting New Churches

In the next few weeks we will be sharing “Ten Practical Steps For Planting New Churches,” written by Rev. Manuel Molina, who has served as a pastor, missionary and church planter in Mexico.

When the gospel came to our land, it traveled with itinerant preachers who planted the seed of the Word without waiting for it to bear fruit.  The goal was for people to hear the Good News.  They even sang, “I will plant the precious seed of the glorious gospel of love…and I will leave the results to the Lord.”  With the passing of time, Christian denominations that came to our country placed an emphasis on forming churches to teach new believers.  Today we know the best way to advance the Kingdom of Heaven is to plant new churches in communities.   When a healthy church is established in a community, it impacts the entire neighborhood with the power of the gospel.  Desperate people find hope, sick people are healed, sinners are forgiven, wicked people are transformed, and the power of evil must retreat in the face of the Word of God.  There is nothing that impacts a community more than establishing a healthy, growing church.  It was God’s greatest invention to organize his disciples to accomplish the Great Commission in this way.

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The Ten Steps are not magic or original keys to planting churches, but church planters actively working in the field have developed them. They can simplify the planning process and give church planters the tools to use so they can focus their energies and resources in the areas that produce the greatest results. If you follow the steps in order, the church will develop in accordance with the principles and goals the planter envisions.  The order is important, but in some cases, it might be possible to change or adapt them.

***Discover step one in the next post.

Youth in Mission and Genesis Collaborate to Impact Queretaro

Youth in Mission and Genesis Collaborate to Impact Queretaro

Lohuther René Gutiérrez Méndez

Two days ago, I wrote about the incredible things God did this summer through Youth in Mission in Mexico. One thing I omitted (on purpose, in order to share it here) is the following.

After several days of training and house-to-house evangelism, we came alongside the missionaries who are serving with the Genesis initiative in Queretaro.  That state is known for its lack of openness to the gospel, and it forms part of an area that has been named the Circle of Silence.Querétaro 2

The four missionaries there are doing a great job of reaching many people through classes or lessons on literacy, computer programming, football, and even psychological consultations.  It was a privilege for us to listen to them and see the deep desire they possess to be part of God’s mission.

The Lord allowed us to work with many children and adults, giving educational talks to the parents, which was a great blessing.  In the afternoons we presented dramas and free-style rap concerts that proved attractive to the kids and teens.  Our purpose was to make relationships and share the gospel with them, and we were able to do so by emphasizing positive lyrics and topics in our music.

What a wonderful time we had in Queretaro: 25 days in all.  We experienced so many beautiful things and witnessed the presence of God at work in the lives of the people in the community as they were being transformed.

The Lord gave us the opportunity to celebrate the first-ever congregational service in that Genesis site, which also included a marvelous time of prayer for healing.  The people present opened their hearts and, with tears in their eyes, were able to give their burdens to the Lord and receive the peace that only he can give.

Querétaro 1We were able to assist an elderly woman in moving from one house to another, and that opened doors for us to lead her to Christ.  After she was baptized a few days later, we all gave glory to God because his Holy Spirit always goes before us, convincing of sin within and guiding us into the light of his salvation.

During our final days on site, we held an activity in a large park.  We presented a sketch and shared the Word of God with all who were present.  Afterwards we formed groups of two or three and prayed prayers of blessing for all who had gathered.  The missionaries told us that this was the first service they had seen where all of their contacts came together; without a doubt, it impacted all of us.

When Sunday arrived, we were anticipating what would take place.  This morning was important: all the months of the missionaries’ hard work was about to bear fruit. Ten Christians were baptized that day and we rejoiced with them, knowing that there had been parties all over heaven because of their decisions!

We knew that God was backing us up at every step.  Our time in Queretaro was full of culture shock and moments when, as a group, we opened up and shared our concerns and conflicts.  God helped us to become united as a team, and our ministry began to benefit from it.  Out of the entire summer of Youth in Mission, our time in Queretaro was what impacted us the most.

*In our next entries we will share some testimonies that came directly from the young men who served as Youth in Mission missionaries this summer.

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Youth in Mission – Mexico 2019

JEM Grupo

Youth in Mission – Mexico 2019

Lohuther René Gutiérrez Méndez

At last the day we had prayed for arrived, and with much excitement we waited in the Mexico City airport for the Youth in Mission (YIM) volunteer missionaries. Mario Josué López Alvarado and Pablo Isaí Parra Jiménez, both from different parts of Mexico, arrived first, followed by Christopher Barreto Maldonado and Gian Carlos Rodríguez Quiñones all the way from Puerto Rico.

We began our summer as a group with focused devotional times, and we participated as leaders and workshop presenters during the Cross-Cultural Orientation in Texcoco.  Our role was mostly to guide those interested in missions in the dynamics and teach concepts of culture and missions.  Above all, the four missionaries shared their testimonies with participants and encouraged them to listen to God’s call on their lives.

COMWe dedicated a big part of our summer to assisting the four missionaries that are planting churches in Queretaro through the Genesis initiative.  It was a powerful time.  In our next entry I will share more about that specific experience.

After being in Queretaro, we traveled to Mezcala, Jalisco, where we shared the Word of God and our testimonies with a Catholic group. Although we didn’t know how they would receive us, it was interesting to see that they were happy to have us there. They loaned us their Catholic Bibles so that we could read the passage they had read, and they asked us to share what we thought.  Upon finishing, we closed by leading circles of prayer. Before we left, we announced that we would be visiting houses in the area to pray for families and read the Bible.  Immediately three families present signed up and enthusiastically received us later that week as we blessed their homes and shared the Word with them.  God was opening doors.Viajando JEM

We had the privilege to teach evangelism strategies and techniques with the local Nazarene church in Mezcala, and we shared with them how the Holy Spirit could use their testimonies to help a friend or co-worker to draw closer to Christ.

We walked nearly all of the streets of Mezcala in order to hand out invitations for the Vacation Bible School: the theme this year was “Summer Harvest Camp.”  We also took time to pray in the streets and parks, and we spoke with many people about the importance of children being brought up with Biblical values and principles as their foundation.

That Sunday we were invited to give our testimony of what God had done that week in order to motivate the Nazarene congregation to participate in missions.

We left Mezcala and traveled to JUNAMEX, which is Mexico’s national youth congress.  We served there as part of the staff and led several activities.  Our primary goal that week was to get to know the highest number of youth possible and share with them about God’s calling on our lives and what He had allowed us to experience.  Every meal we shared with someone different, and during the break times as well.  We were also personally refreshed by the times of corporate worship with 1,000 teens, and we responded to God’s call at the altar along with many of them.Orando JEM

Saying goodbye was very difficult; we had shared everything together for six weeks, and we had become a family! But the moment had arrived, and we thanked God for his protection, his strength, and his love for us.  We praised him in gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of such a special group of youth who proved courageous and passionate for Christ in every moment.

All glory and honor be to Him forever.  Amen.

Lohuther René Gutiérrez Méndez

Youth in Mission Coordinator, Mexico 2019

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Paraguay Missionary Sacrifices Dream to Follow God

The following article was originally published at: Nazarene.org.

Yoan and Astrid Camacaro recently accepted the call to be missionaries for the Church of the Nazarene in Paraguay after serving as pastors in Ecuador for more than five years.

Both Yohan and Astrid are humble and willing to follow God’s lead wherever it might take them; however, their call to missions didn’t happen overnight. 

Yoan grew up in Venezuela in the underprivileged community of Andres Bellos. He started attending the Church of the Nazarene in his early teens and became very involved in church activities.

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Ever since he was a child, Yoan’s dream was to be a professional baseball player and rescue his family from poverty. His grandmother gave him a baseball glove as a gift when he was young, and his family quickly realized he was very talented. 

As he got older, he got better and was noticed by professional scouts. One day, he received a telephone call from the Atlanta Braves, who offered him a contract to go to America to play baseball. That same day, he received a call from his local district superintendent who believed Yoan had a gift for ministry and suggested that Yoan attend the Nazarene Seminary in Quito, Ecuador. 

Lost, Yoan went to his Bible and found the verse in Matthew 6:33: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

At that moment, Yoan knew what he had to do. He declined the offer to play professional baseball, and he went to the seminary. 

During his time at seminary, Yoan met his wife, Astrid, who was born into a Christian home in Ecuador and felt called to ministry at 15 years old. 

Growing up, Astrid served as a youth leader and Sunday School teacher. She has always a strong passion for discipling, mentoring and involving young people in ministry and missions.

After graduating from seminary, the two were married in 2011. They lived in Venezuela for a while where their son, Yared, was born. Yoan is currently pursuing a master’s degree in cross-cultural missions with Nazarene Seminary of the Americas in Costa Rica.

In 2013, the Camacaros planted a church in Ibarra, Ecuador, where they have pastored until their recent call to missions. 

“We are excited to start this new adventure and serve God with love and passion,” the Camacaros said. “We know that great things are coming for the country of Paraguay, and we are ready to develop strategies for growth.”

Now, Yoan hopes that God will use his son to carry out his dream of becoming a professional baseball player.