Small Groups

Two years ago we began to implement a culture of disciple-making in our personal lives and in the church in Pilar. Since that process began, we have seen growth in the Word and growth in numbers. It’s now time for the ministry to take the next step to add another dimension to our evangelism and discipleship.

In order to reach those who are not yet in a one-on-one mentoring relationship, we are launching four new small groups. Each group has a leader who we have been training as well as an apprentice who, Lord willing, will begin and lead his own small group in 12 months. One of the groups is strategically located in the home of a faithful deacon who lives about 20 minutes away, with the hopes that a church plant would grow out of that Bible study one day. We are excited about how God will work through this next phase of ministry!

There are a myriad of definitions of small groups as well as the way they are structured and implemented in a church, but here is what we are doing in Pilar.

SMALL GROUPS copy.jpgThe purpose of small groups is to Glorify God.

The mission:

  • Evangelize unbelievers – inviting new people to the group to study the Bible
  • Disciple the saved – studying the Bible with believers, encouraging them to greater commitment to the Lord
  • Train leaders – equipping them to be leaders of their own future group

→ This is NOT a substitute for one-on-one discipleship; It is another layer in the process of discipleship.

Objectives:

  • Establish small groups that increase spiritual growth in the following activities:
    • study of the Word
    • biblical fellowship
    • prayer
  • Train believers to be leaders of their own small group while ministering to unbelievers and/or other believers.

Healthy small groups combine all the elements necessary to grow healthy and reproduce disciples. They offer food and spiritual support, development of skills for ministry, responsibility, training to reach others, long-term relationships, and worship. They develop the skills for leadership and they are the best instrument the church has to bring people together. (Bill Hull, The Complete Book of Discipleship)

Small Group Principles:

  • Be intentional in maintaining your own commitment and surrender to the sanctification process of deepening your relationship with Christ
  • Provide structure in attending, participating and being punctual
  • Promote intimacy by establishing relationships and bonds with others, showing love and support that provides the strongest form of mutual responsibility
  • Insist on growth (open groups) by having a mission outside of oneself (evangelizing)
  • Make a commitment to multiply each year (train leaders to start their own groups)

Requirements for leaders: Each leader must

  • Be an example in their character (1 Cor 11: 1, Mark 3: 13-14, Acts 6: 1-7, 1 Tim 3: 1-16, Titus 1)
  • be faithful in his service (1 Cor 4: 2; 2 Tim 2: 2)
  • be an active member of the Independent Baptist Church of Pilar
  • follow a more mature believer in the faith (each one follow one)
  • guide a newer believer in the faith (each one lead one)
  • take a Bible Institute class or inductive study per year (each one take one)
  • go through a previous training time with the Pastor to share the philosophy and purpose of the small groups and be able to continue growing during the time of their leadership
  • Be fit to lead
  • Be available to devote the necessary time to the project

If you want to be the kind of leader that others follow, you must pass the simple spiritual test of being teachable, humble and always progressing.

Materials to study: We follow the church’s established “Recommended Resources” list. Each member of the group must obtain a copy of the study book in order to read and meditate on it during the month, before arriving at the small group meeting. Not only is it more profitable for learning, but it also protects the group from the risk of shared ignorance and false teachings.

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Encouraging Like-Minded Pastors

Arch Ministries Pastors’ Fellowship

When we left the States late October, we thought we would not be back until our next furlough. However, the Lord graciously provided for us to attend the 2019 Arch Ministries Pastors’ Fellowship in Bradenton, Florida. It was an exceptional time of instruction from God’s Word, reconnecting with long-time friends, and forging new friendships. Although we were able to help out a little, it was nothing in comparison to all the blessings we received!

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Encouraging Like-Minded Pastors and Churches

Just as our minds were instructed and our hearts were encouraged at the pastors’ fellowship in Florida, we desire to continue to encourage and equip other missionaries and national pastors in disciple-making in South America. This year, we will offer another pastors’ seminar, with a focus on personal evangelism. Pastor Jeff Musgrave will be here to teach the Exchange Bible study.

In order to make this conference accessible to national pastors all over Argentina, we are offering assistance with transportation, lodging, and meals. An individual has already given half of the $5,000 we need to raise for this need. If you would like to contribute toward this project, you may do so by mail or online by simply noting “Greenwood 2019 Conference.” Any additional funds given beyond the $5,000 needed for the 2019 conference will be designated toward the 2020 Disciple-Making Conference.

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Stateside Ministry

10-bwmIt is often difficult to share the effectiveness of one’s ministry when your time with a supporting church or church where you are presenting for new support is very brief. We thank the Lord that our visits have been met with overwhelming encouragement and support for what the Lord is doing in and through His church in Pilar, Argentina. Many leaders and lay people alike expressed a desire that their local church would have a renewed focus on evangelism and discipleship. Our prayer is that this desire be accompanied by a work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of individuals as they begin to look beyond themselves to the opportunity to minister to “one another” in ways that will result in reaching our generation for Christ and His glory.

We were privileged to attend Baptist World Mission’s annual meeting at our sending church this year. About every six years, we have the opportunity to catch up with missionary friends and meet with members of the mission board to report on ministry progress. The reports from the missionaries were encouraging and the opportunity to see new missionaries appointed to the board filled our hearts with joy as we see fellow laborers prepare to enter the harvest fields of the world.

Church Anniversary

Just as a mother never tires of bragging on her child or reminiscing on her child’s formative years, so we never tire of doing the same with our now eight-year-old church plant. We marvel at how God has worked in, through and all around us since even before we moved to Pilar. What began as a Bible study in 2008, developed into a church in 2010, and is now a maturing body of believers. The Lord continues to work to grow His people in His Word to transform them (us!) into disciple-making disciples of Christ.

We came to Argentina with the goal of planting independent, self-supporting, self-reproducing national Baptist churches. Praise the Lord, we are getting closer and closer to this church plant becoming the first one!

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Happy Resurrection Sunday from the Greenwood family!

You can see more pictures of our anniversary/Easter celebration here.

 

Disciple-Making Pastor’s Seminar

In March, James was privileged to travel to Monterrey, Mexico, to participate in a pastor’s seminar on disciple making. He was able to encourage other pastors in Latin America on how to implement a culture of disciple making in their churches. During the same trip, he traveled to Ohio to observe disciple making in action at a large, established church  (Grace Church of Mentor). Both of these destinations were profitable in helping us to grow as church-planting missionaries.

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2017 Ministry Report

The Need

We began 2017 in the States, at the end of our six-month furlough. As soon as we returned to the field in February, we eagerly commenced teaching, by word and example, how to implement a culture of disciple-making in our church. We saw the need to do this because there was little evangelistic vision and urgency in our life and ministry, our members were not being properly equipped as godly disciple-makers and we lacked the skill to plan and grow ministries around disciple-making.

The Plan

For the first time in our Christian walk, we began to sift every aspect of our lives and ministry through the filter of the Great Commission. Our theme for 2017 was, “Each one win one. Each one lead one. Each one follow one. Each one take one.” This simple plan reiterates our church’s purpose statement in a way that every member is challenged to accomplish his part. God’s chosen method for both conversion and growth of the saints is not just the responsibility of the pastor or missionary, but of all God’s people as they are trained and equipped to prayerfully speak God’s Word to others. This is now the central priority of our ministry.

Creating a New Culture

After teaching and preaching these concepts to our leaders and then to our people, many were excited and ready to begin a mentoring relationship with a more mature believer and/or mentor a believer newer in the faith. The shift in mindset toward each one shepherding the soul of another is phenomenal!  By God’s grace, there are currently 23 men and 39 women actively being discipled one-on-one.

After “preparing the nursery,” or equipping each willing disciple to be a disciple-maker, we began to encourage each one to intentionally evangelize at least one unsaved contact. Several folks are befriending their coworkers and neighbors for the purpose of evangelism and a few have begun reading the Bible together!

Both attendance and offerings have increased substantially this year, which is an indication of the growth of the Word taking place in each heart, mind and life.

Resounding Example

As the believers in Pilar became examples (1 Thessalonians 1:7), other pastors wanted to know how they could implement a similar disciple-making culture in their own church. The Lord enabled us to offer a Disciple-Making Conference in September, and we continue to provide ongoing support and teaching to those pastors. Other missionaries and national pastors are gradually embracing this Bible-centered, disciple-making vision, and expressing their commitment in both their personal lives and ministries. Our prayer is that we may be able to help plant new churches and to revitalize and grow existing churches through these efforts.

Vision for 2018

To God be the glory for all that He has done in 2017! Much has been accomplished, yet there is still much to be done. Although our church is bigger than most independent Baptist churches in this country, it still only represents .04% of the population of Pilar. This city needs at least five more churches planted (one church for every 50,000 inhabitants), and Argentina even more (740 churches)!

We long to continue to see the fruit of the Great Commission in our personal life, home and ministry. We desire to see our church folks intentionally and lovingly reach their neighbors and coworkers with  urgency, for the purpose of making disciples and then teaching them to obey all that Christ has commanded.

This is our vision because we believe it is God’s vision.

Missions Trip

2017 Viaje Misionero - Santiago del Estero

2017 Viaje Misionero – Santiago del Estero

Reaching beyond our Jerusalem and into our Judea and Samaria, 14 men from our church, along with a significant offering, went to Santiago del Estero, a province 12 hours away, to help with the construction for two church plants. God gave them safety, the Lord was glorified in every aspect of the project and worked in and through the men.

Last May, James was at a local pastors’ fellowship and met Pastor José Luis who told the other pastors at this meeting how he is ministering in an extremely poor area of the province of Santiago del Estero, how their building has a dirt floor with only three walls and some tin held down with blocks for a roof, but how his family loves this city and her people. After a strong wind storm, they have had to go gather the tin that blew away. However, James was so impressed with this man’s servant’s heart, that he assured him that our church in Pilar would come and help in some way. Unbeknownst to us, José Luis was dubious of this promise because Santiago del Estero hardly ever gets outside help and, according to its residents, “No one ever wants to come visit here!

Shortly thereafter, the Lord gifted one of our church men with a large reticulated metal structure. A company paid him to tear down a virtually new building and they said he could do whatever he wanted with the materials! We all knew right away that the Lord wanted to give us this building so that our church could be a channel of blessing to Pastor José Luis!

The Lord provided free transportation to take the materials up to the church as well as over $5,000 for other supplies. In just four days, 15 men were able to install a new roof, backfill and pour the floor, pour a second-story floor, stucco the inside of the building, install lighting and build a second bathroom.  See more pictures here.

With some of the surplus materials from the demolished metal structure, we were able to help a second church plant (about 50 miles from the first church) get the initial structure going for their new building. An 82-year-old church member had prayed that God would allow her to live to see their church have a building on their property. Her pastor teased her that she might get to see Jesus before the end of this year!

Praise God that we were able to give back part of all that we have been given and that our people were able to get a glimpse of missions in other areas of the country.