The church where I formerly pastored, Wyatt Baptist Church of El Dorado, Arkansas, is one of the most mission-minded churches I know of. Every year they send a large percentage of church members around the world in partnership with various missionaries. One of the missionary families they partner with is Oscar and Tamy Gaitan of Centro De Vida Church in Catarina, Masaya, Nicaragua.
Centro De Vida naturally became Wyatt’s sister church. In fact, over the years, several of the members of Wyatt have moved to Catarina for periods of time and likewise, several members of Centro De Vida have moved to El Dorado for periods of time. We even had a Wyatt girl and a Centro De Vida boy get married!
But Centro De Vida became more than a sister church to Wyatt while I was there. Centro De Vida became a mentor to Wyatt.
Did you know it is possible for churches to disciple other churches? While the Bible doesn’t explicitly use that terminology, it is evident that churches have the privilege of influencing and edifying one another for kingdom work.
One great example is in I Thessalonians 2:14 where Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica: “For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea.”
Did you get that? The church in Thessalonica had been influenced by the churches in Judea to the degree that Paul called them “imitators!” By the way, the word Paul uses is the same word he uses in I Corinthians 11:1 where he urges the Corinthians to “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”
Whether they realize it or not, Oscar Gaitan and Centro De Vida church set the example for how our church would structure small group Bible studies and strategize our outreach. Even the spirit of discipleship and mission we enjoyed at Wyatt Baptist Church was due in part to Centro De Vida. Hopefully, our church was able to edify Centro De Vida in the same way they influenced us.
Personally, I believe that every church –no matter the size, location, age, or legacy- has something to offer. Has your church found a way to disciple other churches?
- Is there a struggling church nearby that your church could encourage through a shared event or by sharing resources? What about joint fellowship gatherings for encouragement?
- Does your church regularly pray for other churches? It’s a great way to focus your church on building God’s kingdom rather than your own kingdom.
- Is your church willing to recommend other churches to visitors who don’t feel that your church is a good match for their family?
- In kingdom work, it is much better to get along than to get ahead! Ask God to open your eyes to opportunities for blessing other churches. And, while you’re at it, stop and take the time to acknowledge, show appreciation for, and pray for those churches who have influenced your own congregation.
May Christ receive all the glory from His body, the church!