When Naya and Jose began an outreach group in their home, Pastor Casto encouraged them and coached them in how to best maximize their connections to their neighbors. Many people came to Christ, and the small group in their home became a healthy Christian congregation that has since multiplied many other outreach groups. Out of this initial movement of disciples, believers from the network have moved to other cities to intentionally begin new house churches and other congregations.
A strong commitment to this kind of aggressive and healthy church planting recently led the Latin American Mission District leaders to adopt a proven strategy to fuel and sustain a biblical movement of church planting. National leaders met in Tampa, Florida, and Medellín, Colombia, to begin learning this process.
Key principles illustrated in the narrative of Jesus’ sending of the 72 throughout Israel (Luke 10) inform the Community Church Planting (CCP) strategy. A few of these principles follow:
Participating with the prevenient grace of God. Jesus sent the disciples two by two, dependent on the hospitality of others, to encounter those already prepared by the Holy Spirit to receive the gospel. These unbelieving “persons of peace” willingly open their homes as a venue for the proclamation of the gospel. Some will receive the gospel message and begin an intentional Christian mentoring relationship that teaches them how to be a Christian leader.
A strong emphasis on disciple-making. New groups and churches arise from new believers who learn early on that discipleship includes sharing the message of the gospel with those within their sphere of influence. They receive focused, applicable, on-the-job training so that as they lead a new group of believers in their homes, and as they share the good news with others, they themselves are equipped with the tools they need to answer questions and live a life of deepening relationship with God in Christ.
Keeping first things first. People gathered in Jesus’ name make a church. Church planting results from intensive disciple-making, and supplemental leadership development seamlessly integrates into the disciple-making process to help refine the gifts of emerging leaders. New leaders repeat the process of reaching new persons of peace, and groups and churches reproduce and multiply. Thus, a movement gains momentum. Buildings and organizational charts appear later to support sustained growth.
Naya and Jose’s experience of church multiplication using CCP methodology has been duplicated many times over in Latin America already.
Almost every country in Latin America includes leaders trained in CCP. Additional and ongoing training is planned this year to continue deepening leaders’ understandings of the model and to establish a church culture rich in disciple-making possibility.
Visit fmchr.ch/latinfmwm to support church planting, leadership development and other holistic ministries fueling and sustaining an apostolic movement to reach Latin Americans for Christ.
Glenn Lorenz and his wife, Wendy, are ordained Free Methodist elders living in Costa Rica and facilitating the pastoral formation process for Latin America. Visit fmchr.ch/gwlorenz to contribute to the Lorenzes and fmchr.ch/fmcostarica to contribute to the annual $25,000 support budget of Costa Rica, which is less than 35 percent committed.1