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.

Real Life Church in Quito, Ecuador

Some of our friends and colleagues in ministry have planted a new church in the heart of Quito, Ecuador. A few weeks ago they described their initial months and their strategies and philosophy in an article published by Ardeo Global. What do you notice about their approach? Can you see this working in your city?

Greetings from Quito, Ecuador! Our team has recently begun our church planting work here with our first church service in September, 2018. The name of our church, Iglesia Real Life, reflects our mission to show how the message of the gospel and the love of Jesus Christ provide real life solutions to real life problems. I think that is the goal of every church, but our focus can get clouded with church logistics and we can begin to focus on the upkeep of a physical church building and its programs. Our team is looking at church planting from a different philosophy. We’ve studied Jesus’ ministry and found that most of His time was spent ministering to non-religious people outside of religious buildings. Our goal is to break free from non-biblical traditions in order to focus on what really matters: loving on people as Jesus did.

So what does that look like? Most noticeably, we don’t meet in a church building. We want our area of influence to be unrestricted by the geographical location of our church, we want to be free of distraction from the work and resources required to maintain a church building, and we want to be welcoming to people who would never feel comfortable entering a church. Our goal is to eventually have various teaching points throughout the whole city so that every new person we meet can attend a worship service and Bible study near where they live.

Currently, we’re meeting at a really neat place near the commercial center of Quito. It’s a food court with a central area for concerts and other events. It also has a playground and separate area where the kids can meet, and the owner is letting us hold our events there for free! So far we’ve had one church service there, and we did our best to make it really feel like a celebration. We had upbeat music and balloons and confetti poppers. At the end of the service, Pastor Josué closed with a prayer but didn’t close his eyes, so people were a little surprised when they realized he was praying. But why not talk to God as though He were standing in the room with us, since we know He is? In the big things and the small things, we want moments like that in our church. We want to get to the root of why we do things and challenge people’s ideas of what the church is. We simply want to be the hands and feet of Christ, loving and serving the people of Quito unconditionally.

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How exactly are we going to serve and meet the needs of the people here? Well, first we have to learn what their needs are, and to do that we have to start by just getting to know them.  Quito is the capital of Ecuador and in many ways is very modern. There is a large downtown area filled with businesses and people living a metropolitan lifestyle. So far we’ve found that many of the issues of people here are pretty similar to those of people in the US: marriages need help, teens need guidance on what to do with their lives, and it’s difficult for families to spend quality time together amidst the many demands of everyday life. However, Ecuador is also a country with a developing economy where many people face underemployment and struggle to simply provide for their families. Problems with drugs and teenage pregnancies are increasing, crime makes it dangerous to be outside after dark, and Venezuelan refugees here face blatant racism every day.

When we first started planning our outreach strategies, we expected that we would be reaching the people in the modern, business-focused, post-Christian part of Quito, and based on the location of our first teaching point we definitely will have opportunities to minister to them. However, in our day-to-day interactions we’ve met people from all walks of life with various needs, both spiritual and physical.

The need for hope and love is universal and does not discriminate across socioeconomic differences, and neither will we in our efforts to reach anyone who is ready to hear of the immense love that God has for them, whether that looks like hosting a marriage seminar or paying for someone to see a medical specialist that they couldn’t afford on their own. Our daily challenge is to stay flexible and open to where and to whom God is leading us.

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This article was originally published at Ardeo Global.

Project Paul Changing the Border

In the Global Mission Regional Office, we recently received the annual report from the “Border Initiative” ministry in Mexico, and we are praising the Lord for the results! We’d love to share some highlights of that report, written by the coordinator, Rev. Manuel Molina.

The northern border of Mexico has a population of 24,800,000 people in 8 states, where there are 148 churches and missions made up of 6,600 Nazarenes. In light of that reality, the Border Initiative seeks to plant new churches in the cities and towns with no Nazarene presence, along with reactivating the churches that have closed and equipping the local leadership of the existent church.

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The main strategy that is being implemented in order to achieve these goals is Project Paul, a program that has been used in the south of Mexico for 10 years.  During a period of three weeks, Project Paul focuses on planting new congregations by using evangelism and discipleship tools. This strategy is now being implemented in the north of the country, producing excellent results in 2017:

  • Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. May 27-June 18 – 439 new believers
  • Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. July 15-August 6 – 438 new believers
  • Monclova y Ciudad Frontera, Coahuila. October 4-22 – 56 new believers
  • Zona Carbonifera, Coahuila. October 10-31 – 227 new believers
  • Comarca Lagunera. November 25-December 17 – 372 new believers

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Statistics of the five projects:

  • Missionaries involved: 120
  • Churches involved: 30
  • New missions started: 23
  • Churches “restarted”: 4
  • Church planters and leaders equipped: 23
  • New believers: 1,534

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God is definitely doing something BIG on the border! May God continue to bless this initiative and the Project Paul strategy. Remember that you can be a part of this too, by praying for the new believers, the new missions and the reactivated churches!

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Also, may God continue to call more and more people to engage in this church planting movement! If you are interested or would like to participate in Project Paul this year, visit the Facebook page of Border Initiative or contact Freivy Lopez (freivy.lopez@gmail.com).  They have a Project Paul scheduled for each month in 2018 – so there are plenty of opportunities for you to be involved!

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My Answer is Still Yes

My name is Freivy Lopez, I’m a member of the 2nd Church of the Nazarene in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, Mexico. For two years I served as a Genesis volunteer missionary in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. During that time, I developed many skills for God’s service. But, the best part was to learn to rely on God for everything.

Each day God taught me to rely on Him even in the hardest times, such as the day I had a gun pointed toward me for the first time. I recall hearing so much terrible news day by day, yet in my mind there was only one phrase “God is with you.” When the person left after pointing the gun at me, I cried like never before, and then thanked God because He protected me from what could have been something much worst.

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There weren’t just bad experiences however, as the days passed in San Pedro Sula I fell more in love with the simple smile of a child, and with each transformation that the Holy Spirit worked in the lives of so many people.

I can describe my two years in San Pedro Sula with the words: “Incredible and Blessed.”

January 13th, 2017, I returned home. I was happy to see my family and friends, but deep inside I had a feeling that something was missing.  As days passed by that feeling grew stronger.

People asked me if I was going to be a missionary again, my answer was, “Yes.”

On September 2017, I moved to the city of Monclova, Coahuila in Mexico. The project “Border Initiative” called me to serve as a volunteer missionary with the specific goal of planting new churches over the next 10 years.

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I want to encourage you also to say “yes” to the challenge God is putting in front of you. Don’t worry about anything else. God will make great things happen for you, if you will just trust Him.

And you know what? When you’re doing what God calls you to do, you’ll be a happy person. I can tell you, I am a happy person.

 

Nuevo Laredo, Mexico Impacted With The Message Of The Gospel

Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico has been impacted greatly with the message of the gospel through the missional program of Project Paul.  From July 15 through August 6, 2017 this ministry was implemented as part of the Border Initiative, coordinated by the Molina Gutiérrez family.

Last April, after visiting the seven Nazarene congregations in the city, the pastors received church planting training, and as a result agreed to utilize Project Paul as a key strategy in the starting of new congregations in their city.

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The response was enthusiastic.  Thirty members from the seven local churches participated during the 21 days of the project.  The goal would be to open five new missions and another five preaching points through personal evangelism and utilizing tools such as the EvangeCube, the “Book without Words,” the EvangeBall, and Vacation Bible Schools for children.

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Each volunteer missionary who participated in this project testified to a renewed commitment to the Lord and an enthusiastic desire to continue to serve in and evangelize their city.

Those who attended the closing service at the end of Project Paul were overjoyed to see many new converts as well as the new churches and missions that were started through great consecration and passionate service.  May all glory be to our Lord Jesus Christ, who is edifying his Church!

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–This information has been provided by Rev. Manuel Molina.