Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age. MATTHEW 28:19–20.
- Chile is physically cut off from the rest of the world by the tremendous Andes Mountains on the east, and the Pacific Ocean on the west.
- Chile’s unusual shape stretches from the world’s most arid desert (in the north), to Antarctica (in the south). Which gives the country a great length of 2,653 miles, while only averaging 110 miles wide.
- Total population = 17.6 million.
- Population of Santiago (Capital of Chile—where our ministry happens): 7.1 million. This is 40% of the entire population.
- Less than 40% of the urban population participates in any religion.
- Less than 8% of the urban population participate in a Protestant church.
- Most of these—including Restoration Movement Churches—are heavily influenced by mystic and charismatic religions (primarily Pentecostalism).
Restoration Movement (R.M.) Churches:
- Bertrand Smith first brought the Restoration Movement (Christian Church) to Chile in 1948, and the number of missionaries, to Chile, peaked around the 90’s. Now, there are less than 10 missionary families in Chile. Many churches were planted by the previous missionaries, but things went downhill when most of those missionaries left. Now, many of the Chilean Christian Churches look very similar to the rest of the protestant churches in Chile that belong to Pentecostal and charismatic movements (health and wealth gospels, chaotic church services, etc.). The previous missionaries also started some large-scale projects in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s (i.e.; a Bible institute, a camp), to grow the Chilean Christian Church. But now, these projects do not exist, and millions of U.S. church dollars were lost, because missionaries didn’t take the time to know the Chilean culture before trying to help the people. In some cases these catastrophes simply happened because some Chileans wanted to take advantage of the “rich Gringos”. But, mistakes were made by North Americans and Chileans, and now there are deeply wounded relationships between Chilean pastors, missionaries, and among the Chilean churches in general.
- The battle for power, among R.M. “pastors,” has further divided the church. These divisions choke out any chance of doctrinal consistency in the Chilean Christian Church. As half of the “pastors” fight for power, with other pastors, they lead their congregations out of community with R.M. churches. As a result. Those churches begin to mix their beliefs with our Pentecostal neighbors.
- Most R.M. ministers are actually called “pastors,” because there is no plurality in leadership. Almost all of these pastors have full time jobs, little or no theological training, and hold church activities up to five nights a week. As a result, they don’t have a lot of time for their own devotional time with God, or to put much thought into their sermons. They often end up improvising as they preach. Since these pastors couldn’t be prepared, they end up just trying to preach whatever sounds good, and throw in a lot of unbiblical teachings that lead the Chilean Christian Church further astray.
- Equip pastors—and young leaders—with resources to help with their own spiritual development.
- These resources can be translated lessons, books, or sermons. But, in the long run, we will design these material ourselves, specifically, for the Chilean context and culture. The ability to design these kinds of specific resources will come through studying at Johnson University, and living with the Chilean people through the long-term.
- People can only be poured into if they choose to open, and share, their personal/spiritual lives with us. The more “pastors” and leaders trust us, the more they share their personal/spiritual lives with us. As our friendships strengthen, they become more intimate in they’re sharing, and we better see how to help them walk more steadily with God, so they can better lead their flocks to do the same. This trust is also built by being vulnerable and sharing some of our struggles, with them, as well. It’s really incredible the way our relationships are growing.
- Encourage pastors—and young leaders—to habitually make time for structured Bible-reading and prayer.
- Explain that this consistent personal time with God is essential for our personal growth, and even more so for leading the flock.
- Work with pastors—and young leaders—to develop Bible-interpreting and sermon-organizing skills, that will help them lay out deeper theological concepts for their flocks to meditate on and explore. This general education will naturally push false doctrine out of the Chilean Christian Church, while avoiding unnecessary confrontation.