Charts and graphs are typically not all that exciting. But they are when they reveal God at work! Such is the case at the República Church in Quito, Ecuador.
This week CMI received some interesting statistical information from República. The information is significant because it reflects the results since we fulfilled our role in helping the church complete its facilities with a 1,400-seat worship center and a 5-story Christian Education building.
Here is a short summary:
Three Year Outcomes of the República Church
|Avg. Attendance||1,155||1,224||1,358||1,742||Not Applicable|
Statistics can’t tell the individual stories, but behind each one of these numbers is a person whose life is being transformed by Jesus Christ.
Moreover, República is committed to giving 20% of its future income to planting new churches beginning with their first daughter church that, with the Lord’s help, will launch later this year or in early 2012.
Imagine the impact when we fulfill our Quito Initiative vision of 20 churches like República throughout the city! Five churches are already birthed – two are completed, three are in various stages of development and the aforementioned daughter church of República is in development.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support. As this one church reflects, God is doing great things through our partnership together. Thousands are being impacted with the gospel and together we are laying a foundation for discipling nations for Jesus Christ!
CMI’s new evangelistic initiative in Quito, Ecuador reignites a time tested model for spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ.
One by one they came. At first two, then four, then a dozen. By the end, nearly 100 people gathered at the front of the República Church in response to the gospel invitation of guest evangelist Ricardo Diaz—CMI’s Latin America Regional Director. Of those that came forward, 20 publicly proclaimed their faith in Christ for the first time.
Among them was a woman at the point of crisis. As she began to pour out her story to her counselors, she confessed a terrible secret—a secret of unimaginable sin spanning 10 years. If it were ever revealed it could destroy her marriage and family. For years she tried to end it, but another person threatened to expose her if she ever did. Trapped by guilt and hopeless of redemption, she was contemplating suicide before being invited by a friend to the first night of a new evangelistic outreach being held at the República Church.
Through Ricardo’s message that night she heard the Good News of God’s grace and forgiveness and for the first time felt a spark of hope. She gave her life to Christ and shared that she was ready to confess her secret to her family, trusting Jesus with the outcome.
The outreach at República was just one part of a new three year evangelistic initiative led by CMI and the Encounter with God Churches of Quito. Launched November 19-22, 2009, the new initiative began with simultaneous evangelistic events in all four Quito Encounter churches led by an international team of evangelists including Diaz, Javier Cortazar (Peru), Eduardo Mercon (Venezuela) and Manuel Zarate (Colombia/USA).
Similar outreaches were held in the Quito churches this past February and March. Many more are scheduled in the coming months. Thus far, more than 250 have placed their faith in Christ through these events. Many more have recommitted their lives to Him.
The vision for the evangelistic initiative sprang from the desire to refresh in Quito the evangelistic fervor that birthed the Encounter with God Movement in Lima, Peru years ago.
To do so, Ricardo Diaz recruited an international “Dream Team” of Latin American evangelists noted for their commitment to God’s Word, richness in teaching and passion for the gospel. With CMI providing for travel expenses and the local Encounter churches providing lodging, meals and honorarium, the international evangelists are scheduled to preach in each Encounter church a minimum of four times a year for three years.
“There is something powerful in the public proclamation of God’s Word,” says Diaz. “It is difficult to describe, but there is a unique holiness when a large number of people hear the gospel message together.”
“The ‘revival’ style outreach may seem to some people to be a bit antiquated,” adds CMI’s Associate Executive Director Craig Murray, “perhaps it is because we have seen many instances where it is driven more by ‘program’ than led by the Holy Spirit. But the public preaching of the gospel is modeled over and over again in Scripture. Jesus described his primary ministry as preaching the Good News—often to thousands at a time. Peter preached the first Pentecost sermon before the people in Jerusalem and three thousand were added to the church in a single day. Paul’s ministry was characterized by going first to preach in the synagogue of each city he visited. What we see in Quito is the first seeds of a similar harvest. More people come to know Christ with each successive event.”
Beyond just those that come forward, there is an added impact on those that are already believers. As they see people respond to Christ’s call on their lives, believers in the churches become excited and more passionate to proclaim the gospel themselves. There is a spirit of festival and celebration to be part of what God is doing to transform lives. It becomes infectious.
The result is momentum evangelism where each outreach builds on the last creating a multiplying effect. People who trust in Christ at one event begin to bring friends and family to the next. Church members that see God at work, likewise begin to invite their friends and family. The result is exponential growth.
This is already evident in Quito. Lord willing, an even greater harvest is yet to come!
Christian apologists often say that their purpose is not to reason a person to faith, but simply to help clear the forest of some questions so that people can get a clear view of Jesus.
The fourth principle of Encounter with God—Construct Inviting Facilities—does much the same thing.
It is true that the church is formed of people not buildings. Likewise there are certainly cases where the focus on church buildings becomes more about increasing the comforts of the saints than equipping them for ministry. Nevertheless, facilities can be vital tools to enhance evangelism, corporate worship, training and discipleship.
This is definitely true in Latin America where the physical presence of the traditional church is a central theme in Latin culture. Visit any plaza in Latin America and you will find the traditional church at the center of town. Deep in the psyche of most Latin Americans, even among the nominally religious, a physical building is an important indicator of legitimacy.
This is especially true in the urban professional levels of society where evangelicalism is often regarded as the religion of the poor and ignorant. For much of its history the physical presence of the evangelical church contributed to this misperception.
Most evangelical churches were located in poorer communities with extremely humble facilities. Praise God for these churches. Yet, the almost exclusive focus on this segment of society to the neglect of others helped foster this stereotype. Moreover, though the churches in lower income areas often contained fervent and faithful believers, they had a difficult time reaching demographic segments beyond their own.
The Encounter with God approach of developing simple, but nice centers for worship and discipleship helps break down such stereotypes and bridge barriers between social classes.
The presence of an inviting facility forces reevaluations of long held misperceptions. Many times the building enhances curiosity and openness to the gospel message.
Moreover, the right facility can help foster a greater mix of social classes. Encounter churches seek balance between providing a place inviting to urban professionals, but not so ornate as to intimidate others. Encounter churches are unique in their diversity. Lower, middle and even upper income people worship together in many churches.
In a world prone to stringent social and economic stratification, this can be a tremendous testimony to the unity in Christ.
The Church is not a building, but a building can help a church better be the church– uniting people of every social level to bear witness to the power of the gospel to change lives and transform nations.
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