Spreading and Growing the Church
Latin America is an ever-changing kaleidoscope of people and cultures. With 80% of its population living in cities, it is one of the most urban regions of the world. Always a migratory region, recent social and political challenges have resulted in a rapid increase of individuals and families crossing national borders in search of safety, employment, and a new life. UNICEF claims that “local capacities and systems in receiving countries are being overstretched in already vulnerable host communities.” Immigrants are flocking to overcrowded cities with poor infrastructure. Many live with violence and poverty. Several countries are experiencing high inflation and social/political upheaval. Traditional religion has lost ground, and secularism and postmodernism are gaining. But in this context, the Free Methodist Church continues to spread and grow.
The church is spreading through the intentional implementation of Community Church Planting (CCP). Building upon various training events, in 2019 the Latin American area hired a full-time CCP Coordinator to help train and coach leaders, support church plants and facilitate the exponential development of the church throughout the region. The expansion is happening in cities with existing churches but is also spreading from one place to another. As well-trained, committed Free Methodist leaders immigrate from one country to another, they plug into Free Methodist churches and ministries in their new country, bringing new life and multiplying groups. Some have been sent intentionally as missionaries and others have fled desperate situations in their home countries. Today, they are pastoring or planting community churches in at least eight Latin American countries. Likewise, as committed Free Methodist leaders migrate to new cities within their own countries for employment or schooling, they are locating people of peace and planting house churches. In fact, in 2018 at least 80 new house churches were started in ten different countries.
The Latin American church is also growing in its spiritual depth as the new Pastoral Formation curriculum is implemented. For the first time ever, the region has a comprehensive, contextualized, flexible curriculum in Spanish to train and ordain pastors. Designed to be delivered through a CCP network or used in a traditional church setting, the curriculum is biblical based, Wesleyan and Free Methodist in nature and, practical and relevant to the context. It has multiplication in its DNA – disciples making disciples, pastors training pastors, and churches planting churches.
Pray these initiatives will continue to grow and spread the kingdom of God in Latin America for many generations.
Dr. Ricardo Gómez, Latin America Area Director