Church Growth

You are currently browsing articles tagged Church Growth.

In our fall newsletter, we spoke of testimonies of breakthrough in the Yucatan. This article is the second in that series—the story of Isaí González and his wife Tifany, pastors of the new church, Casa del Rey, in Mérida, Yucatán in the developing neighborhood of Los Héroes.

Los Héroes is a young suburb on the eastern periphery of the city of Mérida, but the colorful facades of its new houses and the bustling activity of its thriving businesses do little to alleviate the loneliness and anxiety that plague its residents. Many of its current occupants have upended their lives elsewhere in the country to look for new opportunities that the relative safety of the capital city of Yucatan affords. It was to meet the needs of these young families that Isaí and Tifany decided to plant Casa del Rey in 2016.

We first met Isaí in Instituto Biblico Bethel, where he was a member of Dave’s first church planting class in 2012. Recalling that formative time, Isaí stated that he’d learned from Dave that the success of the implementation of a project is in its planning: visiting the area, collecting information, and asking for the Lord’s direction. This is the same methodology he’s now applying to the benefit of the residents of Los Heroes.

Emphasizing a vision of multiplication, they’ve fostered steady numerical growth and have facilitated significant personal transformation in the lives of the residents of Los Héroes. The Ruiz family* is one example of the change that has occurred. Attempting to start over after economic disaster nearly destroyed their marriage, Lalo* and Luisa* arrived in Los Héroes broken and hurting, but, through the invitation of a church member, they attended service at Casa del Rey and were touched by the presence of God. Since that first service, they’ve given their lives to the Lord, experienced restoration, and are actively participating in the church’s ministry.

Whereas the rapid growth has brought with it its share of complications, such as the need to undertake an eight-month building project to expand their facilities, Isaí and Tifany continue to strive to fulfill their vision, turning now to cell groups to increase their impact and meet needs in Los Heroes.

We’re grateful for the privilege to work with people like Isaí and Tiffany, people achieving breakthroughs in their area of ministry. And, as we enter this season of Thanksgiving, we want to take this time to thank you for your prayers and support, which grant us this opportunity.

*Name changed

Tags: , , , ,

Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 4.14.17 PM

I know that a picture of me working on a laptop may not seem like a big deal. What would you say, however, if that time behind the screen is being utilized to help see 1 million people come to Christ!

Just last month, Network211, the Internet ministry with which we’ve partnered since August of last year, reached its one millionth evangelism response. That means that 1,000,000 people have viewed an online gospel presentation via sites like JourneyAnswers.com (RespuestasdelaVida.com in Spanish) and have responded to it with either a question, a prayer request, a salvation decision, or a rededication. You can read the article on PE News.

Closer to home, our team has had the privilege of interacting with over 1,000 evangelism responses since our partnership began. Those are people, throughout Spanish-speaking Latin America, but principally in Mexico, who have been touched by the message that they’ve experienced online.

Still, this is just the tip of the iceberg. While Network211 has set a goal of making 100 million unique gospel presentations, we have set our sights on physically connecting into faith communities those who are responding in the virtual space.

We’re confident that, as we’re able to train more partners to promote these evangelism presentations, we’ll see increasing response in our region. This will enable us to either direct seekers to existing churches or start new works where none currently exist, helping to turn decisions into disciples. This is just one more way that we’re working to see our vision of the Yucatan full of churches, diverse in class, status, education, and language but united in their love for the Lord and one another become a reality!

Tags: , , , ,

IMG_0392

How do you inspire someone to see the need? It requires exposure; it demands engagement, and that’s exactly what we’ve been fostering as we continue pressing ahead to see our vision of the Yucatan full of churches become a reality.

It began with a conversation, a suggestion that pastor Felipe Sabido utilize the Alpha course to encourage outreach in his congregation “La Mies” in northern Merida. You can imagine my pleasure, then, when last month, I was invited to preach the kickoff of “Start”, their 12 week course based on Alpha. Their plan: to host groups throughout the city, inviting friends and neighbors to explore the truths of Christianity in a non-threatening environment. We’re looking forward to track with them as they open their homes to those seeking after Christ.

At the same time “La Mies” was planning their outreach, 27 students from “Instituto Bíblico Bethel” were hitting the streets. My evangelism classes took to the public spaces of Merida to discover the impact that Christianity was having on the everyday lives of those they encountered there.

While they found some encouraging signs, they also encountered areas of concern. For example, although 21% of those surveyed identified with an evangelical church, even they had difficulty explaining what it meant to be born again, and although a whopping 84% agreed that the Bible was the word of God, only 9% reported reading it on a regular basis. Clearly, there is work to be done.

What encouraged me, however, was to hear of the opportunities that the students were having, not only to discover the needs, but to meet them as well. 66% of those surveyed reported an openness to receiving follow up studies, while dozens received prayer and words of encouragement in the city streets and parks. One of my students summed up the sentiment the best. “We wouldn’t have known had we not gone.”

Pray with us that these experiences continue to bear much fruit!

Tags: , , , ,

What if…

questionSM

When it comes to progress in evangelism, I like to celebrate as much as any other believer. I’m not one to criticize any effort especially when, looking at current trends, so little is being done. Still, I’m not content to simply celebrate, I want to evaluate as well. I want to ask the questions of myself and my students that will help us maximize our effectiveness as we share God’s story, the gospel, with our families, friends, and neighbors.

A case in point is what happened just yesterday. One of my students, who hasn’t been able to visit his home church for a while due to distance, was happy to see that five new families had started attending the church since his last visit. One of them had been attracted to the service by the sermons that they could hear broadcast through the loud speakers attached to the church building. We celebrated with him, but afterwards I asked, “What if we knew our neighbors and had assessed their spiritual needs so that the messages that they heard were not only touching but truly touched them?”

I feel there is a tendency to assume certain conditions are present as we address nonbelievers, but although those conditions may be felt generally throughout the society, each individual’s needs may be radically different. That’s why, when we share God’s story with individuals, it’s so much better to know where they are coming from before we try to direct them in the way that they should go.

That same class, I had the pleasure of directing my students to the Engel Scale of Receptivity. This tool will enable them to quickly assess the spiritual need and accommodate their message so that this who receive it can understand and take positive steps toward discipleship. I hope you find it useful as well.

Its my prayer that these steps of evaluation, combined with useful tools, will encourage all of us to continue to share the gospel in an increasingly effective manner.

How about you?

  • Have you taken time to evaluate your involvement in the work of evangelism? What have you found?
  • Are there any tool that you have found to be helpful in sharing your faith? Let us know where to find them!

Tags: , ,

Evangelistic Campaign in Oxcum, 2011

Evangelistic Campaign in Oxcum, 2011

I love a great adventure. As a youth, I remember traveling off to distant lands with the aid of the latest edition of National Geographic. As a missionary, I’ve been blessed to visit some of those places that I had once only read about. I’ve marveled at the volcanoes of Costa Rica, and navigated through the waters of the “Cañon del Sumidero” in the Mexican State of Chiapas. I’ve entered the ruins of the ancient Maya civilization and slept in the thatched homes of their descendants. Still, to tell the truth, although travel remains a highlight of what we do, I gain much more satisfaction from being able to identify with a group of people, establish credibility with them, and enable them to reach their God-given vision.

We have been privileged to have these types of relationships in the town of Muna, where we worked for three years in our previous term, in the town of Ochil, where we have been able to track with the people from the very beginning of their fellowship, and, next week, we get an opportunity to continue another long-standing relationship in the town of Oxcum.

Pastor Ruben (right) prays along with Dr. Andrés Perez

Pastor Ruben (right) prays along with Dr. Andrés Perez

Oxcum, a forgotten little town just a half hour outside of Merida, is a place that was supposedly established as a haven for the unsavory types that transported smuggled goods over the back-roads of Yucatan. Even today, the signs of its difficult beginnings show through: low levels of education, elevated unemployment, the prevalence of single parent families, wide-spread alcoholism and rising levels of drug abuse. It’s a place so down on its luck that it has prompted some to ask the question reminiscent of Nathanael’s in John 1:46, “Oxcum! Can anything good come from there?”

Still in the middle of this hopelessness, a light is beginning to shine. Since 2010, Pastor Ruben Sanguino has been ministering from his mission in Oxcum. We’ve worked with him, first coordinating an outreach in 2011, and later giving a conference on the Holy Spirit. We’ve tracked with him as his congregation has grown, carving out a place and an identity in that town. And while he has seen his share of difficult times, his perseverance is bearing fruit.

Ministry in Oxcum, 2012

Ministry in Oxcum, 2012

This October 18th, we have the opportunity to work with him again, this time in coordination with the students from my evangelism class at “Instituto Bíblico Bethel.” On that Friday afternoon, we will coordinate with his mission to speak of the God who sees their situation. We’ll be coming near through social outreach to children and adults alike, providing spiritual counseling throughout the event and a message from God’s Word in the closing rally. Our desire for this event is to raise awareness within the village of who the God of the Bible really is, and highlight the mission in Oxcum as a resource for establishing a relationship with Him.

Would you pray for us as the event draws near?

  • Pray for a favorable response from the authorities who would grant us the public space for the event.
  • Pray for all of the details that go into the organization of such an event, from the supplies, personal, and equipment, to the message that will be delivered in word and in deed.
  • Pray for favorable weather so that all may be able to hear the message that we are sharing.
  • Pray for an enthusiastic coordination between the local mission members and the students of “Instituto Bíblico Bethel” as they work for the common goal of sharing God’s love with the people of Oxcum.

Blessings on you as you continue to stand with us in the work here in the Yucatan, and beyond!

Tags: , , ,

Want to learn about the Yucateco Rhythm and why it needs to pick up the pace? Hit the link here or click on the picture to find out! While you’re there, don’t miss the rest of our latest quarterly update from the field!

Our online newsletter is viewable as a PDF document. If you do not have the Adobe Acrobat Reader software installed, you may download it here.


Tags: , , , ,

In a previous post, I had spoken about how Abimael Borbolla, District Superintendent of the Mexican state of Oaxaca, woke up the pastors and executive committees of the District of Yucatan when he alerted us that the our rate of growth, what he called the “Yucatecan Rhythm”, has been limited to 2.7 churches per year.

Granted, any growth is progress, but we need to take several things into consideration when we analyze this growth. First of all, records show that there are 188 Assemblies of God churches in the Yucatan. It is generally believed that the average church hovers at a attendance of between 75 and 100, which means that there are 18,800 people entering our churches during any given week. Adding 2.7 churches to this figure yearly, we can see that the Assemblies is adding 270 people per year in a best-case scenario, a growth rate of roughly 1.5%.

When we compare this growth with population figures we see the stark reality. As of the the 2010 census the state of Yucatán boasted 1,955,577 inhabitants(1). At 18,800 congregants, that means that the Assemblies is currently reaching less than 1% of the people of this state. Furthermore, knowing that the population is growing at a rate of 1.6% annually(2), our growth rate of 1.5% means that we are actually losing ground.

So the logical conclusion is that, if we plan to see the Great Commission fulfilled in the state of the Yucatán, we need to get busy planting churches. Nevertheless, increased activity alone will not insure the success of this endeavor. Our vision must be to plant churches that do more than survive, they must thrive, starting a cycle of reproduction that will effectively disciple the population. The dissemination of that vision is the goal of the current series of Church Planting Training Seminars during the months of April through June.

Together with Abel Can, and Fernando Diaz, District Missions Director and Secretary-Treasurer of the Missions Committee respectively, along with missionaries Lidia Pompeyo, and Norma Uitzil, we’re attempting to introduce pastors to effective methods of church planting. The 5-hour conference covers such subjects as the role of intercession, the responsibilities of the mothering church, the necessity of understanding the community, strategies to use to gain entrance into that community, and the elaboration of a chronological plan which ties all of the elements together. Our desire is to stimulate the district on toward the goal of planting 100 new churches in the next two years.

We’ve held one conference in the series already, which was well attended and received. Pray for as we travel and teach the series this weekend and throughout the next two months. Pray also that it will result in being the shot in the arm that the “Yucatecan Rhythm” needs. Click here for more photos of the event.

(1)“Mexico en Cifras”. INEGI. Retrieved May 8, 2011.
(2)“Mexico en Cifras”. INEGI. Retrieved May 8, 2011.

Tags: ,

Restoring Power

In this previous article, I spoke of the inconvenience of power outages. I related the frustrations that I felt because I could not trust that I would have the energy that I needed to power the modern devices that I’ve come to depend upon in order to complete my projects.

More recently, however, I’ve grown aware of an even more alarming power outage, evidenced by the diminishing number of believers being baptized in the Holy Spirit. At a recent meeting, certain pastors lamented that only 20% of their congregations had experienced the Baptism, while a census submitted by the regional presbyter in the southern portion of the district reported that perhaps only tithe of the church members polled had received the infilling of the Holy Spirirt.

Acts 1:8 states, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Could it be that the reason for the stagnated growth of the Assemblies of God in Yucatán has been because we’ve lacked the power that such growth requires?

One church, Eben-Ezer, has recognized their need for the power that only the Holy Spirit can bring, and has asked that I speak in a two day event titled, “Reconciling Ourselves with the Holy Spirit” on February 4th and 5th. In this event, it is my desire to show the congregation the biblical foundation the Baptism of the Holy Spirit so that they might be open to receive it and learn to cooperate with the third person of the Trinity to make an impact in their daily life.

Would you pray with us for these services?

  • Pray for a genuine recognition of the need among the congregation.
  • Pray that many will be open to learn about and receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
  • Pray that the experience would lead to a renewed witness to the community of the love of Jesus Christ.
  • Pray that the effects of this event would motivate other churches in the Yucatán to emphasize the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Picture courtesy of ali_pk (Opens a new window.)

Tags: , ,

The Symphony Orchestra of Yucatan

There is just something about harmony that makes things special. In music, it fills the spaces; it adds depth and color. What might be impressive as a solo piece becomes something positively majestic when instruments and voices blend together in perfect harmony.

In ministry, it is just the same. We celebrate the accomplishments of the individual, but we strive to see the all the members of the Church working together in unity. While God can do much through the efforts of one surrendered heart, what can be accomplished when an entire community of believers makes itself available to be used by Him can be truly staggering.

This is the type of harmony that I believe we can achieve here in the Yucatan in the area of church planting. We’ve spoken already of the ministry of church planting that we are undertaking in coordination with the Jesus Film in the Maya language, a ministry designed to plant new, indigenous works in unreached areas. Now, we are seeing others join the vision of expanding the influence of the Kingdom of God as the District of Yucatán promotes the planting of reproducible churches.

Durning the month of January, district officials have invited Abimael Borbolla, the district superintendent of The Mexican state of Oaxaca to tour through the state of Yucatan and to challenge church leaders to look beyond their four walls, to reach out into unreached areas, and to plant new works, new works designed to grow and plant others.

The picture he painted was challenging. Since 1943, the birth of the Assemblies of God in Yucatán, 188 churches have been founded and sustained. When we compare these numbers to the 3,363 cities, towns, and villages that exist in our state, we find that only 6.5% of its inhabitants have access to the message that we preach. (Actually, the actual percentage would be lower as certain cities have more than one A/G church.) What is more sobering is that, at our current growth rate of 2.7 churches per year, we would not be able to finish the task of establishing a congregation in each location until the year 3258.

Nevertheless, I left the conference full of hope, not from the view of the enormity of the task, but from the comprehension of what we could achieve if we work together. As he challenged those of us assembled to plant new works, Abimael showed us that, if each church would commit itself to planting just one new, reproducible church every 5 years, the task could be accomplished in only 25 years.

The work is difficult but not impossible. As we see a vision cast and a church respond, we are beginning to see harmony take shape, a harmony that will enable us fulfill the calling to make disciples here in the Yucatán and beyond. As I reflect on the possibilities, I’m more excited than ever to be a part of what God is doing among us.

Tags: ,