Latino ministers anticipate planting more than two dozen Assemblies of God churches this year in Texas and Louisiana.
During a church planting summit last September, ministers in the Texas-Louisiana Hispanic District (TLHD) committed to launching 27 churches in 2020. This is by far the most ambitious church planting effort in the district’s 10-year history. The strategy will include regional prayer meetings, a reproducible model that fits district needs, and steps to ensure that the new church plants are healthy.
The initiative is modeled on a plan that has worked well in Latin America. Raul Galviz, a pastor from Bogotá, Colombia, conducted the training under the ministry of CEPI — Comisión Estratégica de Plantación de Iglesias (Church Planting Strategic Commission).
“It’s God’s plan, so there is no plan B,” says David Segovia, pastor of El Salvador Assembly of God in San Antonio.
CEPI has trained more than 5,000 church planters who have launched hundreds of churches in 15 Latin American countries, Segovia notes. Additionally, more than 100,000 new converts are being discipled and the plan has spread to five countries in Europe.
“CEPI might be a strategy, but this is totally God’s plan,” says Segovia, 62. “We have great support from our TLHD leadership.”
TLHD District Superintendent J.R. Rodriguez believes churches will be planted where neither English nor Spanish congregations currently exist.
Those engaged in the district’s church planting process undergo a yearlong training. They are assigned a coach and encouraged to start a small group in their home. When at least two people receive Christ as Savior, the group becomes a new church plant, Rodriguez notes.
“Meetings and training with their coaches are scheduled throughout this process,” says Rodriguez, who pastors Templo Aposento Alto in Houston. “We want churches to see this as a joint effort and share their resources. Once they see the results of a healthy church, they will want to do it again.”
Segovia, a district executive presbyter who serves as TLHD’s church planter director, has been involved in eight church plants.
“A building is not a priority, but people are,” Segovia says. “It’s high impact, but low cost.”
There are 12 training modules for the planter, and a church initially might meet at a location such as a house or a coffeehouse.
“There is built-in accountability, mentorship, and measuring of effectiveness,” Segovia says. “Every plant has to have a mother church and a discipleship plan.”
Segovia sees the initiative as an Acts 13 biblical model.
“It’s the local church planting churches,” he says. “It’s reproducible because it’s low cost and flexible.”