By Rolando Castro, BCM/D Missionary for Church Planting/Evangelism/Language Churches/Hispanic Church Development
From my earliest days as a church planter, the concept of multiplication has been a natural part of who I am and what I do. Some scholars call this component our “DNA.” This DNA has not always been present in my life. It needed to be cultivated and rehearsed, in order to become a reality. And for the very same reason, it’s one of the most fragile elements in the development of a leader within the body of Christ.
We have many reasons for not seeking the multiplication factor in our ministries: jealousy, fear, a self-centered vision, tradition…you name it. We struggle reading the Bible and comparing Jesus’ commandments with the practices of our own churches. We know there’s a “disconnect.” We know something is not working, and we know we are the cause.
The Kingdom of God is all about multiplication. The agricultural parables of Jesus point our attention to the reality of small beginnings that result in exponential growth. The stories of the book of Acts are filled with the supernatural action of the Holy Spirit, multiplying the church and expanding its impact through the whole Roman Empire. In fact, the history of the church is a story of multiplication through the ages and the nations…but it is an unfinished story.
What can we do to contribute to this ongoing story? How can we write our own page in the history of His Kingdom’s advance? What kind of legacy are we leaving for the following generations? The answers to these questions are crucial; they are found in the definition of how we minister and in the way the Kingdom of God is evident within our context.
Three years ago, in a meeting with some other Hispanic SBC leaders from across the country, I was introduced by the North American Mission Board to the “Church Planting Center” idea. This was a revolutionary idea to me. It answered the question of how churches can start accomplishing their task of planting new congregations, allowing denominational agencies and networks to serve as partners with them in the process, which is by the way, their legitimate role.
Today, I am planting a new church. Iglesia ConeXiones is being planted with the intention of becoming a multiplying church, a “church planting center.” Our vision is to multiply disciples, groups, leaders and churches. But we are not alone.
Iglesia de Rockville (Rockville Church, with pastor Luis Serrano) and Primera Iglesia Bautista Hispana de Cambridge (First Hispanic Baptist Church of Cambridge, with pastor Jose Nater) share the same vision and call. These churches and their pastors are also leading the way as Kingdom multipliers.
Pastor Serrano is leading his congregation to plant Iglesia de Lusby (Lusby Church) in southern Maryland, and is planning to start a new Hispanic church in Frederick in the near future. Pastor Nater previously planted Primera Iglesia Bautista Hispana de Easton (First Hispanic Baptist Church of Easton) and is now headed to Seaford, Delaware, to plant his third church in six years. Together, these “mother churches” and their “daughter churches” represent almost seventeen percent of the total Hispanic Baptist churches in Maryland/Delaware.
The challenge before us is creating environments within our churches, where multiple disciples are intentionally cultivated, selected, developed, and supported, who in turn will make disciples, resulting in new churches. What these new churches look like depends on each church’s culture and context, yet the above principle remains the same in all cases.
Part of our desire is to develop a comprehensive Maryland/Delaware strategy, which facilitates the next generation of Hispanic Church Planting Centers to launch naturally. We believe a multiplication movement is on the horizon.
There are many things we still need to learn. The journey has only just begun and the excitement is building. We are waiting to see Jesus take our loaves of bread and small fish, and watch Him multiply them beyond our understanding.
We invite you to join us, as we join God in His Kingdom work throughout this region, and even around the world.
Rolando Castro serves as the Missionary for Hispanic Church Planting, Evangelism and Church Development with the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware. He can be reached by phone or text at (443) 285-2012 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.