For more than 100 years the country of Ecuador has been a center of evangelistic and missionary activity. The number of evangelical believers has grown substantially in recent years. However, the percentage of evangelical Christians remains a small minority and most evangelical churches are situated among those with extremely limited financial and educational resources. As a result, many churches remain dependent on outside assistance and even those that are self-sustaining lack the capacity to reproduce themselves effectively in terms of new congregations and new outreaches.
CMI seeks to be a catalyst to the development of a network of strong, dynamic churches in Quito, Ecuador that will be the foundation for expanded evangelism, discipleship and church multiplication throughout the nation. To this end, CMI launched The Quito Initiative – a vision to plant and complete ten churches, each with a capacity for 1,000 people, by the year 2015 and to see these ten churches reproduce ten more churches, each with a capacity for 500 people, by 2023 without further outside assistance.
CMI believes that to realize nationwide impact, it is vitally important that evangelical churches develop the types of churches and leaders equipped to sustain and expand a national church planting movement. A key to this is the development of large, strategically located congregations well-positioned to communicate the gospel effectively to all levels of society. This includes the professional social classes that possess resources, education and leadership crucial to future development. For most of the history of missions work in Ecuador, this influential social segment has been neglected. The capital city is the ideal location to begin our work. It is the center of national influence. While hundreds of people move to the capital each day, change and influence radiate out.
CMI serves as a catalyst to urban churches in cities like Quito. We help them formulate vision and develop a dynamic evangelism and discipleship plan. A crucial role is assistance in the development of church facilities. While the professional classes possess the resources to sustain and advance their local churches, economic conditions in Latin America make it virtually impossible for them to fund the facilities for the initial network of churches without some help. In exchange for help from CMI, the benefiting churches commit to set aside 20% of their income for the development of future churches. As a result, as the churches multiply, they eventually reach a critical mass that will enable them to continue the mobilization and multiplication process without dependence on outside assistance.
Expand the Proclamation of the Gospel: As more Encounter churches are established, the reach of the gospel will expand. New churches will be planted in new sections of Quito. With each new church, the number of ministries and evangelistic outreaches will rise. Likewise, as momentum builds, opportunities for evangelism will increase.
Establish a Nationwide Church Planting Movement: In forming the initial core network of Encounter churches we will be providing the foundation for a nationwide church planting movement equipped and sustained entirely with indigenous resources. CMI projects that when ten churches with a capacity for 1,000 people are established, there will be enough resources produced by these churches to accomplish the reproduction of an additional ten churches with a capacity for 500 people, by 2023. Together these 20 churches will have the leadership and financial resources to provide for a sustainable nationwide church planting movement.
Equip Encounter Churches to Reproduce: Equipping the Encounter churches in this formative stage will enable these churches to reach the critical mass necessary to sustain further reproduction completely from their own resources. As new churches are completed, each will give a minimum of 20% of their gross income toward a rotating fund that will be used to plant new churches.
Provide an Inspirational Model for Other Encounter Churches: The uncommon unity and cooperative effort exhibited in Quito provide an inspirational model for the larger Encounter with God Movement. The broad-based partnership envisioned by the Quito Initiative holds potential for multiplied effectiveness. Demonstrating a proven model for such cooperation will stimulate and motivate other Encounter projects toward increased cooperation in the planning and implementation of their own nationwide church planting efforts.
Transform Mission Paradigms: As significant as the above accomplishments would be, successful completion of these objectives holds the potential for far greater impact. CMI envisions the Quito Initiative as an important first step towards impacting the broader work of world missions. In many ways, CMI’s initial effort with Lima to an Encounter with God provided a revolution in missions more than 30 years ago by proving that it was possible for a dynamic church planting effort to be established among the urban professionals of a major Latin American city. Lima to an Encounter with God continues to serve as a missions model virtually unmatched. Today, the initial Encounter church has multiplied into more than 70 churches in Lima alone and additional churches have been planted in 12 secondary cities of Peru. In Quito, we believe that we have the opportunity to reproduce and even exceed the results achieved in Lima, Peru. If this vision can be attained and a proven model be reproduced in another context, it could lead to a revolutionary change in missions thinking and strategies. Other mission agencies would likely be quick to follow the model, resulting in a multiplication of resources for similar projects worldwide.