Lay Missioners Lead in Growing and Multiplying Disciples
By Bener Agtarap
The Rev. Martin J. Lee, who serves as the Director of Congregational Development and Redevelopment for the Northern Illinois Conference of The United Methodist Church, shares this powerful story of a new faith community in his area.
Rev. Lee writes, “In ministry, the key is finding the right leader in the right place.” The bishop and the cabinet found this kind of a leader in Brother Jesus Molina and deployed him to lead this new faith community development in his capacity as a lay missioner.
Brother Jesus and his leadership team are leading many people to the love of God. We celebrate the passion and boldness of our brothers and sisters in their task of forming disciples of Christ Jesus by creating new worshiping congregations. We give thanks to God for their clarity and relentless focus on creating new places for new people in the name of Jesus’ love. Undoubtedly, this new faith community serves as a role model for our church leaders to lead in growing and multiplying disciples of Jesus Christ by starting new faith communities and revitalizing existing congregations.
In 2016, we visited our neighbors by placing flyers in their doors and talking with people on the sidewalk as we visited. This is a community with a 45 percent Hispanic/Latino population; most are single homes. We planted a seed, but it did not grow right away.
A new pastor, Jesus Molina, has been appointed to this faith community. The church building now has four distinct worship services (ministry center). Two new faith communities are led by lay missioners under one roof.
There is one non-denominational Hispanic English-speaking congregation, and it has been supporting Franklin Park United Methodist Church (the Anglo host congregation) for the last fourteen years through a space sharing agreement. The non-denominational congregation gets its own worship space and donates $2,200 per month to the host church.
Since Pastor Molina was appointed, he has started two other Hispanic/Latino worship services led by lay missioners.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, church volunteers have begun to renovate the church space, including the roof.
The Anglo congregation typically has around twenty people in worship at the 10:30 am service in the sanctuary. The first new Hispanic New Faith Community meets at 12:30 pm, led by Lay Missioner Kiko. Approximately forty-five to fifty people, mostly from Puerto Rico, attend this service. At 2:30, a second New Faith Community service is led by lay pastors Roberto and Jackelyn Moreno, who own a construction company. Approximately seventy people, most of them from Honduras and Central America, attend this service.
The new worship services are flourishing, and the leaders of the New Faith Community are considering naming themselves "Living Waters."
I pray that they can expand to have twelve sites! This is happening through Licensed Local Pastor Jesus Molina's dedication for recruiting passionate leaders who participated in the Conference Academy for Faith Community Development.
In ministry, the key is finding the right leader in the right place. That is our challenge today. It is not about resources or plans. “God is looking for a person of prayer, mighty prayer,” as E.M. Bounds has said. Jesus Molina is a man of prayer who is dreaming a God-sized dream.
Roberto Moreno invested more than $72,000 for the building renovation, which included the removal of asbestos materials.
The new wind of the New Faith Community movement is blowing across the Northern Illinois Conference.