MIAMI–Approximately 50 Florida Baptist pastors and church leaders gathered recently at the Southeast Regional Center for a one-day event that focused on inspiring and guiding local churches to be proactive in planting congregations in Hispanic contexts.
The day began with a message from Pastor Jose Abella of Providence Road Church in Miami. Using an anecdote about a clear river that had later turned murky, Abella asked, “How is the river of evangelism flowing through our churches and private lives?” He warned that churches risk losing sight of the gospel when they become too entangled in church programs and calendars.
The gospel is our security and must remain at the forefront of all we do. Let's aim to be a family of churches in Miami that guards the clarity of the gospel.
Abella said, “The gospel is our security and must remain at the forefront of all we do. Let’s aim to be a family of churches in Miami that guards the clarity of the gospel.”
Before attendees dispersed for breakout sessions, Winston Williams, church planting catalyst at the North American Mission Board and pastor at Iglesia Biblica Vida Real in Pembroke Pines, built on Abella’s message, encouraging pastors to evaluate how the gospel—or the “gospel river”—flows within their congregations.
The event featured three breakout sessions:
– Julio Crespo, pastor of Iglesia Central in Oklahoma City, led “Discipulado en la Iglesia Local.”
– Abella discussed becoming a multiplying church in his session “Ser Una Iglesia Multiplicadora.”
– Author Wendy Bello led a special session dedicated to women attendees.
At midday, Williams moderated a panel discussion featuring Crespo, Abella and Alberto Ocaña, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Northside in Hialeah. The conversation provided insights into the importance of church multiplication in Hispanic contexts. Ocaña pointed out that Hispanic churches often perceive church planting as an act of fragmentation, essentially people leaving the church. He countered this notion, saying, “Hispanic churches should begin to look at church planting as the next natural step in the life of the church; otherwise, churches will die.”
The day continued with a worship service and message from Crespo, who reminded attendees that “the church grows through evangelism; there is no plan B.” He asked, “If you’re not evangelizing, what are you doing?” Crespo emphasized Miami’s unique role as a strategic city for gospel-sharing, urging pastors to go where the people are. Emanuel Roque, Hispanic ministries catalyst for the Florida Baptist Convention, closed the one-day event with a prayer session.