Greetings brothers and sisters in Christ,
I arrived in Guatemala on September 21. Two days later, three ministry partners and I traveled to the mountains of southwestern Guatemala to conduct a training seminar for Mayan pastors and church leaders. Marty Quigly, a resident missionary to the Mayans for 25 years, rode along with us to observe the seminar. We met Pastor Jorge Rodriguez in San Bernardino. He pastors a church in Cantel and teaches Mayan pastors throughout the Solola Department.
We arose before 5:00 Am on the day of the seminar and drove 90 minutes, on an unpaved mountain road that was all but impassable, to the village of Xogola. Upon our arrival at the training site we were greeted by Pastor Manuel Tambriz. Pastor Manuel is the pastor of the Iglesia de Dios la Profecia and President of the Associacion de Iglesias Unidas, Boca Costa.
The participants began arriving shortly before 8:00 AM. It is the rainy season here and most of them had walked great distances in the rain to get to the seminar. As many of them entered the church they went immediately to the altar, kneeled on the cement floor, and prayed.
Following a heartfelt introduction by Pastor Manuel (in Quiche) and a time of group prayer we started the training. As I walked to the front to deliver my message, I was almost overwhelmed by the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit. After my message, my ministry partners conducted sessions on church administration, developing sermon outlines, and pastoral counseling. In addition, Pastor Jorge did a study from the book of Genesis in Quiche.
Sixty pastors and leaders from several different denominations attended the seminar. I was surprised and excited that seven pastors from the Assemblies of God attended. They generally don't attend seminars not held by their denomination.
I am always inspired and humbled by the attentiveness of those who attend our seminars. The church in which we held the seminar was approximately a 20X40 rectangle, with block walls and a tin roof. The weather report on the internet gave the humidity as 100%, and there was not even a whisper of air moving. I am not exaggerating when I say it must have been over 100 degrees in the church. Needless to say, this was not the ideal environment for learning. Yet not one person complained or left early.
As part of my wrap up session I asked the participants, "Do you want us to come back again?" I was not prepared for the response I received from the normally reserved Mayans. It sounded like a group of sports fans cheering after their team scored the winning touchdown at the Super Bowl. It was the first training of this kind they had ever received and they wanted more. I spent the next 30 minutes asking questions to ascertain exactly what their major training needs are. We agreed to conduct another training seminar for them on March 31, 2012
The day after the seminar, Cesar and I traveled back up the mountain to meet with Pastor Ismael Sac to discuss the distribution and monitoring of the audio players loaded with the New Testament in Quiche. He was excited about the program and agreed to monitor their use. We will return to the mountains today (Thursday) to distribute the players.
Part of the criteria for them to receive a player is for them to schedule a "listening session" with their congregation the day we deliver the players to them. We are looking forward to seeing their response when they hear God's word in their own language.
The meeting with Pastor Ismael was in the elementary school he and his wife started for the Quiche children. The school has 206 students in grades 1-4, that come from both Christian and non-Christian homes. During the meeting it suddenly occurred to me that we should give audio players to the school to play the word of God to the students each day. We asked pastor Ismael if that would be possible, and he immediately said yes. Can you imagine the impact hearing God's word every day will have on the children?
On September 27, two of my ministry partners and I, met with Pastor Samol, the President of the Baptist Seminary. The purpose of the meeting was twofold: to restore our relationship with him and to ascertain if our ministry could assist the seminary in better equipping the Baptist pastors and leaders to do God's work.
The results of the meeting were clearly the work of the Lord. Pastor Samol graciously accepted our apology for dropping the ball in 2010 and invited us to sell our commentaries and other study aids at the Baptist National Conference, November 8-10. In addition, he invited us to conduct a two day training seminar for 100 Baptist pastors from Guatemala City on Feb. 24 & 25.
All praise and glory be to God.
All that you have just read!
1. That those attending the training seminar put into practice what they learned at the seminar.
2. That all goes well with our two day evangelism event on Oct. 1 & 2, and that many people accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
3. That the Lord brings us the funds, to pay the expenses associated with the two scheduled training seminars, to replenish supplies needed for conducting training seminars, to print more commentaries, and to purchase more Bibles and audio players. The ministry activities of this trip completely drained our ministry account.
4. That the Lord brings us a ministry partner fluent in Spanish and gifted in teaching to teach leadership skills at our seminars.
Please read and refer friends the current article "Is Sunday School Still a Viable Strategy In the 21st Century Part 2?" by Dr. Bruce Morrison.
The article for October will be written by Dr. Jim Adams, President of SETECA, Guatemala City, Guatemala.
Thank you for supporting SER through your prayers, giving, and words of encouragement.
Your brother in Christ,
In Part 1 (August 2011, SER Newsletter), I defined both Sunday School and small groups, noted the structural differences, and stated that the local church needs both Sunday School classes and small group ministry. The bulk of Part 1 was devoted to understanding Sunday School classes, their advantages, and the role they play in the overall accomplishment of the biblical mandate for the local church to fulfill the Great Commission.
After reading Part 1 you might have concluded that I am a "Sunday School only" kind of guy, but you would be wrong. I firmly believe that you should have both Sunday School and small group ministries in the local church. In this article I will explore the role of small groups in the local church, specifically discipleship groups.
There are several different categories of small groups found in the local church today. Some typical small groups categories are:
Task Groups exist to accomplish a certain project. Church committees and boards are usually task groups.
Fellowship Groups engage in developing a connection with others through activities (i.e. Dinner Clubs, Sports, etc.)
Teaching Groups communicate knowledge and information. The church's discipleship groups and in-depth bible study groups are in this category.
Growth Groups focus on helping people become more aware of felt needs or strained relationships. These groups focus on growth in areas of marriage, family, and work life.
Support Groups focus on specific emotional or relational needs (addiction groups, recovery groups, etc.).
(Rapha's Handbook for Group Leaders by Richard Price and Pat Springle, Rapha Publishing, Houston, TX, Page xvi, 2.)
A working definition of a small group is:
"....an intentional gathering of three to twelve people who commit themselves to work together to become better disciples of Jesus Christ."(The Big Book On Small Groups, Jeffery Arnold, Intervarsity Press, 1992, Page 9)
There are some key words in this definition we need to explore. First, small groups are "intentional gatherings" of people. These "gatherings do not happen by chance. These people are seeking a common goal or outcome for their investment of time and study. The second group of key words is "three to twelve people". This defines the size of an optimum small group. A larger group will diminish the dynamics of group interaction, making it harder to include everyone in the activities of the group. The third set of key words is "commit themselves to work together". The commitment to work together is paramount to effective group interactions. This commitment also strengthens the connection between the participants, adding to the sense of "community". Finally, the ultimate goal of all small groups is to "become better disciples of Jesus Christ".
The activities common in each category of small groups are giving information, encouraging discussion, facilitating process, and planning. The following chart describes the intensity of these activities in the respective groups.
[Read the full article HERE.]
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