OHIO VALLEY — The Ohio Valley region, which includes the states of Michigan, Indiana and Ohio, previously lacked Hispanic church development resources, but now Send Network church planters are working with local churches to turn that around.
“[The Ohio Valley] is a fertile field. There is a lot of potential for planting Hispanic churches but the tools necessary to make it happen are lacking. We are meeting that need through leadership workshops,” said Jorge Altieri, Send Network Español (SNE) Regional Champion Catalyst for the Ohio Valley Region.
Leadership workshops guide Hispanic pastors through practical evangelism and discipleship strategies and discuss the theology of local church leadership. The workshops have been well-attended with an average of 30 church planters, pastors and leaders at each.
“Few Hispanic pastors are thinking about how they can be a sending church,” said Altieri. “Through these workshops, we are giving them the tools and skills necessary to teach their churches about the importance of church planting. A church where there is no evangelism, discipleship, and leadership training is not a church that is going to be planting churches. There must be a culture of those three things.”
Oscar Luna, a church planter in Detroit who attended a workshop learned, “Church planting is not an option; we are called to do it. Sometimes Hispanic pastors will say ‘oh we’re not ready to plant right now, maybe later on’ because they think they don’t have the resources to do it, but if you have people, then you have resources.”
At these workshops, Hispanic pastors are learning that their church doesn’t need have a large budget to be a sending church. They can take their first steps to help plant churches by hosting residencies to train church planters or sending people from their congregation to support the work of a church planter.
Luna and his family are members at Miles City Church in Detroit, Mich. Their church is now sending him to plant a Spanish-speaking church to reach the Hispanic community in their city. Leveraging the resources and ministries of Miles City, Luna has started English classes to encourage the Hispanic community to form relationships with the church. He is always looking for ways to make connections between the Hispanic community and his church by providing translation of Sunday morning sermons and inviting them to food banks hosted by the church.
Luna’s church will be the first Hispanic church in 20 years to be planted in Michigan, according to Altieri. But even before his church’s launch, Luna is already thinking about training the next church-planting family. “There are only six Hispanic SBC churches in all of Michigan. We want to be able to send to two other areas with large Hispanic populations and grow into places where there are no churches.”
In March, Luna hosted a leadership workshop at Miles City Church. While the workshop focused mostly on pastoral care, it also included a church planting component which Luna hopes led pastors to think about involving their churches in planting other churches.
Published June 20, 2023