CHARLOTTE, N.C. (BP) — In the last seven years North Carolina has been experiencing a Hispanic church plant boom, with 150 new Hispanic churches. And the growth shows no signs of stopping, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There has been a spiritual awakening that has led to planting of Hispanics churches across the state,” said William Ortega, consultant of Hispanic church planting for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
Julio Arriola, executive director of Hispanic Relations and Mobilization for the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, commends North Carolina as a model for other states.
“We applaud the hard work and vision of William and his team,” Arriola said. “The rapid growth of Hispanic population in North Carolina and over all the United States tells us the need for leaders like him, willing to not only pray like it matters but also act like it matters.”
Following governmental social distancing guidelines, Ortega has canceled all in-person training and moved to online meetings through the online meeting platform Zoom.
“There will be changes, but not when it comes to mobilizing Hispanic church planters,” Ortega said.
Ortega, a native of Costa Rica, was a missionary with the International Mission Board in Mexico City before taking on the role at the North Carolina Convention. As part of his job, Ortega created a six-element Hispanic church planting strategy: working in teams, vision-casting, mobilization, spiritual formation/mentoring, church planter trainings and strategic prayer.
The first element creates teams of leaders at the state, regional and local levels who will coordinate and collaborate with pastors, local churches and associations.
“Working with teams will help us to measure the process we are doing in the area of church planting in each region and zone,” he said.
Through an annual church-planting conference, regional church-planting retreats and one-on-one meetings with pastors (which are now held online), Ortega and other leaders are casting the Hispanic church-planting vision. The responsibility of coaching and mentoring also falls to the state, regional and local leaders.
“[We want to] infuse and share the church-planting vision aggressively to local churches within the state,” he said, “… [to] cast God’s vision in a way that motivates, inspires, and encourages others to accomplish God’s purpose in the state for Hispanic work.”
There are currently 25 Hispanic church-planting centers spread across North Carolina. The courses offered are useful for church planters as well as those who are called to be part of a church plant team.
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Source: Baptist Press