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.
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.
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.