The Nehemiah Center, through the Church Strengthening program (FE), is sharing biblical principles in order to develop healthier churches. Recently, after a year of studies, a total of 13 churches from the Estelí and Ocotal regions, completed a set of workshops on the 8 indicators of a healthy church.
Miguel Castillo, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Estelí, summarizes his experience with the following words:
“From the start, when we were presented with the topics covered by FE, I said, ‘This is for us.’ Sometimes, as a pastor or leader, for lack of resources one doesn’t have access to training of this quality, but the church took advantage of the Nehemiah Center bringing us resources and it has been fulfilling for us.”
“I, as part of the leadership of my denomination in the northern zone, I want to bring these skills all the way to Wiwili. I am sure that the pastors of that whole area will welcome it with open arms. If the Nehemiah Center wants to send staff there, I will accompany them, or if they want to send me, I will go to share these workshops.”
What changes have you observed in your leadership team upon participating in these trainings?
Pastor Miguel: We were numb in the area of service. The leaders felt comfortable with doing work only inside the church and there was little work done outside of the four walls, which should be the main range of action in the church. It was difficult to mobilize the church. I received a lot of excuses, but now we are seeing an awakening in the people – this has awakened many that were inactive before.
(Picture: Left, Pastor Miguel Castillo. Right, Pastor Henry Cruz -Program Facilitator)
How did that awakening happen?
Pastor Miguel: At the beginning, when we made our diagnosis as a church, we realized that we had been wrong. We agreed that we had a lot of problems, that we had paper-thin leadership, and that we had to make structural changes, including changes in our liturgy. We felt discouraged.
The 13 leaders that participated in the workshop along with me listened to our brother in Christ, Henry Cruz (facilitator) explain that it was necessary to
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work as a team, that it was time to do something. This helped me a lot because I felt that the congregation was leaving me to carry the burden on my shoulders, and I felt frustrated. The leadership began to understand that they too should be doing, should be working. The study of the 8 indicators has awakened an interest in the life of the church.
What actions have you taken in this vision of developing a healthier church?
Pastor Miguel: We have a leadership school every Thursday and now we are holding the workshops we have received. We already have a written plan with goals, objectives, and activities that we are going to develop: restructuring the evangelism commission, searching for a music teacher to improve the area of liturgy, we are giving classes on homilitics and hermeneutics to strengthen the area of biblical exposition. There is now a team doing follow-up with new converts, with visitors to the church, and with those who are being reconciled with the church. We also want to have an area of counseling. One of our objectives is to involve 90% of the membership in the work of the church according to the gifts the Lord has placed in them.
*Wiwilí, a town of Nueva Segovia department that borders Honduras, over 270 kilometers northeast of Managua.