Why Plant More Churches?

Why plant another church?

One Monday, I got a message from my cousin Hillary. She asked about our online Bible study group that I started last year during the pandemic. I was happy she wanted to get involved, even though we were miles apart. The technology we have today has helped us to make disciples regardless of geographical limitations.

However, as disciples of Jesus we need a local community of individuals that can help us put our faith into practice. We need people around us, who pray with us, who help us and walk by our side in life. So I asked my cousin if there was a Christian church near her home for her to attend. She told me no. For many this would not be a problem, but when you are a single mother of a two-year-old child and you do not have your own vehicle to get around in Santo Domingo, the situation is more complicated. Just like Hillary there are other people, who would like to be part of a local church and do not have the means to do so.

In 2018, a newspaper published an article stating that in the Dominican Republic there are more than 18,000 evangelical churches.  Someone could argue that 18,000 churches is enough, right? I don't think so, because none of those churches are close enough to my cousin's house. In addition, the article mentions that only 30% of the Dominican population is evangelical Christians. Do you think we need to plant more churches? Let me give you two more reasons.

1. Strategic field

When Katie and I served as campus missionaries at the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, we encountered students, who did not have access to a healthy local church. Some were backsliding in their faith until they met us. There were others, who became new Christians but were not established in a Christian community yet.

Our church building was far from the university campus. We invited some students to visit but it wasn’t sustainable. So, we wondered if the solution was being closer to the campus and that is when we felt called to plant a new church near the university. The problem was that we had no idea or experience of how to do it. We only had a vision to reach, train and send the present and future leaders of our country. To achieve that we needed to connect these young people to a vibrant, multigenerational spiritual family.

Still wondering why to plant a church with a vision to reach college students? Because every student is a doorway to a family. When we reach a student, we reach a family. Also, the Lord sends workers to work his field and gives each worker a special grace. Some have been called to work in a city and others have been called to work in a village. The apostle Paul is a good example of that. The Lord Jesus Christ called Paul to preach to the Gentiles. Paul wrote in his letter to Galatians 2:9:

“…and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.”

Paul did his ministry in a strategic way, preaching in the main cities of his time: Rome, Athens, Thessalonica, Galatia, Ephesus, Corinth, Colosse, etc. Today, many consider that six of the seven churches that are mentioned in the Book of Revelation were planted by the church of Ephesus, which was the first church to be born out of seven and was started by the apostle Paul. So, Paul, under the direction of God, strategically planted a church in the city considered the main communication route of the time, since three of the great routes passed through Ephesus.

Most Christians decide to follow Jesus before the age of 25, while in college or earlier. I also know young people who were Christians before they went to college and then were led astray. Many preachers and pastors started doing ministry as students. What if the future missionaries to reach the Caribbean and Central America are waiting for us in the universities? Without a doubt, this is a strategic and potential field.

For that reason, we talked to our leaders and were then sent to the Every Nation Assessment Center for Church Planters. Our goal was to discern if this was the right time to plant a church in the Dominican Republic. After a week, we received a recommendation that we needed more training before we go.

That’s how we got here, to HighPoint Church in Orlando. Thank God for bringing us to the right place!

2. Making disciples produces churches

Although planting a church near universities is a good strategy, the Lord Jesus did not ask his apostles to go all over the world and plant churches. Jesus sent the apostles to preach the gospel and make disciples. This is the main reason why we want to plant another church, because God called me to preach his gospel and make disciples.

The natural outflow of making disciples of Christ is the formation of his church. Every time we preach the gospel and make disciples of Christ, the Lord uses those disciples to build his local church, and sometimes to form new churches. Isn't that wonderful?

3. Iglesia HighPoint Locally

Here in Orlando there are many churches too, thank God. But the Latino population in this area is growing. Some of my neighbors face difficult challenges, some feel they are isolated, and others have a desire to find the support of a Christian community but do not speak English. That's why we need more Hispanic congregations, because sometimes there are some barriers that intimidate Latin American people, such as language and culture.

One of my friends at HighPoint told me how he came to our church. His daughter was part of ELEVATE, our youth group. He wanted to know the kind of people his daughter was hanging with. Also, our church held an event to help our friends in Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria. My friend is Puerto Rican and in this event there was Puerto Rican food and the church was 5 minutes from his house. Everything made sense, so he came and stayed. The food helped but the preaching of God’s word and the environment in our church, was appealing to him. Today my friend is part of the team, which is starting our Hispanic congregation, Iglesia HighPoint.

That is why we need more churches, because local churches are an instrument God uses to change people's lives. Many wish to find a local church nearby with a healthy community of believers.  But in the end the main reason is the same: because Christ has sent us to make disciples.
Pastor Mario Jiménez

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