General Director Tom Gibbons writes about a good problem to have:
For David and Kristi Flinck, diminishing space due to church growth has become an encouraging problem in Antofagasta, northern Chile, where they have served for seven years. Content just to find affordable housing in this prosperous mining city of 400,000, they rented a 10th floor apartment for their family of six in May of 2011. After two months, they began holding Wednesday night Bible studies in their apartment, and then the following month Sunday meetings. Before long, they were praying for a house with more space! Through God’s provision, such a home was able to be purchased thirteen months after their arrival. Today their living room is bursting at the seams. Why? Because the primary focus of their church planting ministry is people.
While compelled by the goal of God’s glory, our primary focus in church planting is never buildings, but people. Buildings become necessary tools for ministry, but when Jesus saw the multitudes (Mt. 9:36), He didn’t worry about where they would meet, dream about the facility he would build some day, or obsess over how he would ever pay for it. He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Missionaries who engage in church planting rarely do so because they’ve been promised the necessary financial resources to buy or build a facility. They do so because they have passion for the lost as Christ has passion for the lost.
The focus of church planting must always be people: their salvation and transformation. When the servants of God sow the Gospel seed, the Spirit of God works, and the Son of God builds His Church. Making disciples (rightly called the planting of the Lord) inevitably results in spiritual growth and numerical multiplication, which creates an encouraging problem: where to physically put the planting of the Lord for three or four hours a week, so they can be kept watered and growing. Having personally witnessed the process of establishing a church from birth to young adulthood over a span of 18 years, we marvel at how God took care of this practical need through every stage of growth, with perfect timing and always debt free.
Missionaries will usually choose a home in their host city with a large enough garage or living room to begin holding meetings. As Christ builds His Church, that space will grow cramped. In the summer it may be hot and stuffy, but the acoustics will make the neighbors think that hundreds are tucked away inside when they sing! What a thrill to “suffer” through this encouraging problem in the miraculous birthing process of a Christ-built church.
Were it not for Christ’s motivating passion for lost people, one might have reasoned that Antofagasta was too far north and way too expensive to make a go of planting a church there. However, we’re not called to “make a go of it” or “give it a whirl.” We’re called to go and make disciples. Christ has promised to build His Church…and in Antofagasta, Chile, His Church is storming the gates of hell.
The Biblical church-planting focus of reaching people for Christ has produced spiritual growth and numerical multiplication to the point where there’s no more room in the Flinck house. That’s a problem that encourages. Join us in praying for a strategic, God-tailored location where this young ministry will have space to keep growing. We know God is able.
If you would like to learn more about the challenge, contact David and Kristi Flinck. Please remember the Flincks, National Pastor Andrés and Cecilia Maluenda, and new missionaries Mark and Bekkah Perry, in their team effort to establish the church in Antofagasta.