Encouraged, Challenged and Inspired

I just came back from a three-day, church-planting boot camp for Hispanic leaders in San Diego, CA, coordinated by the EFCA (Evangelical Free Church of America). I was really encouraged to see many Hispanic leaders, seasoned pastors, and future church-planters in one small place (literally) to share ideas, past experiences, and of course, practical tools for planting and developing effective and healthy local churches.

I was really honored to be present among such hard-working, Christ-loving leaders. I had the privilege of meeting (and sharing a place with some) pastors from other states who are doing great things for the glory of God and the well-being of their local congregations.

The highlight for me was that a lot of my desires and passions and dreams of pastoring/planting a church were, in some sense, confirmed and rekindled. My heart was moved and stirred by the necessity of planting new churches for the glory of God and the edification of people.

I been contemplating the idea of church planting ever since I felt called by God to serve in pastoral ministry. You may be asking yourself: “Why plant a church?” Good question! Church planting is, in my opinion, the primary way to reach a community with the gospel, make disciples, provide pastoral care and counseling, development and train leaders, and ultimately, expand the kingdom of God.

One of the few things that fill my heart with an inexpressible joy is when I see and/or hear stories about new churches being planted locally and abroad; how the gospel is being preached and people are being saved; and how the kingdom of God is expanding. I spend hours (no joke) reading blogs about church-planting stories and movements. (Who does that?!?)

Ever since I started serving in ministry, my love for God’s people has grown to the point that I cannot see myself doing anything else than using my God-given gifts to edify and bless others in the context of the local church.

Now, let me be honest: planting a church is one of the most challenging things ever! Don’t believe me? Just ask a church planter and his family how difficult it is to plant a church.

The trials, temptations, shortcomings, unmet expectations, lack of resources, weekly responsibilities, criticism, and discouragement, among other things, makes church planting an unappealing and daunting task.

Why in the world would I want to plant a church (in the near future)? To simply put it: I feel God is calling me to do just that—to plant a church—and I want to be obedient. When? Where? How? I honestly do not know.

In the meantime, I will continue to learn, grow, and serve God passionately and faithfully…and the rest is up to Him. After all, He was the one who changed my life and put those desires in my heart in the first place, so why wouldn’t He guide and direct my steps in order to fulfill that for which He has called me to?

I believe that God is in control and that He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” (Eph. 3:21). Amen!

*Discuss: What is God calling you to do? And, how is He preparing you for that task? Share your comments below.*

Leadership is Essential

Leadership is important. Why? As John C. Maxwell well puts it, “Everything rises or falls on leadership.” I agree. As a leader myself, I am beginning to realize that the success (or failure) of an organization or ministry falls on its leadership.

Leaders are important not because of the positions they hold, or the talent they have, but because of the impact, whether positive or negative, they will have on their followers and the organizations and ministries they represent and work for.

Leaders are called to serve others and not their own personal, selfish agenda. Leaders are called to…well lead, and leading will require great responsibility and effort and, at times, great sacrifice. A leader must be willing to pay the price in order to be effective in whatever he or she does.

Leaders are called to a higher standard of living for they will give an account to God for what they do (or don’t do). It is vital for a leader to live a life of integrity, service, honesty and humility.

The stakes are high and many are watching. People are counting on leaders to display a life worth imitating and following. The responsibility could not be bigger but the potential for long-lasting impact and positive change is endless.

Leaders: pray and strive to serve God and others with a humble and sincere heart.

For His glory,

Jonnathan Menendez

A New Journey

Over the last couple of weeks, I have witness God at work—touching hearts, doing great things in the lives of others, and answering prayers—all to accomplish His will in the local church. The most amazing, and shocking thing in the world is that God uses ordinary people like you and me to carry out His purposes. What an expression of His grace!

Now let me tell you about something that I will have the undeserved privilege to be part of. Soon, I will begin a new journey in my life—entrance into youth ministry. But before I go on to describe how I feel about it (hint: excited), let me briefly share how all of this came about.

I am currently attending Eternity Bible College. This school does a very good job in making sure students get involved in the local church. One of the ways the school encourages ministry involvement is by giving its students monthly updates on current openings, positions and opportunities available in our area.

This is how I first heard that there was a need for a Middle School Coordinator at The Bridge. At first, the thought of working with middle school students was intriguing and appealing; but as time passed, I sort of pushed this opportunity to the side and left it unattended. In the next couple of months, God began to work in a remarkable way in my life—giving me a fresh, new passion and desire to disciple the next generation of students.

As a result, God put on my heart to start a small, discipleship-group for high school students. We have only met for about a month now, and I have seen God do amazing things in their lives.

I love sharing God’s Word with young students. My passion is to make a positive impact in their spiritual growth and formation. And so far, I cannot complain—God has been good!

Now back to this new journey in my life—entrance into middle school ministry. After a couple months had passed since I first heard of the opportunity, I became once again interested; so I began to pray and seek the Lord’s will on it.

I remember a night I was working at my current job (Radio Nueva Vida). During one of the Bible programs, I took a brief moment to pray that God may open the door to get involved at The Bridge. I am already serving at Nueva Vida (the Spanish ministry), but something I strongly desired was to be part of The Bridge.

A couple of days later, I received a call from Rob (the current youth pastor) asking me if I wanted to teach on Sunday, July 1st to the middle school students. I remember saying, “Wow, Lord, that sure was quick! Is this the answer to my prayer?” Little did I know that I was being examined on that Sunday as a potential candidate for the job (or at least that’s what I think).

So after various conversations, meetings, and God’s conviction pressed upon my heart, it became clear that the Lord was leading me to be involved in this area of ministry. I thought, “Wow, I don’t deserve this. I am not fit for the job. What if I fail and mess up?” But then, I was reminded of an amazing truth—that all over the Bible, we see how God used ordinary folks to do extraordinary things for the glory of His name (i.e., Moses, Ruth, the twelve disciples, and many others).

If someone were to ask me, “What would be the most exciting thing about working in middle school ministry?” For me, the most exciting thing would be having the opportunity to invest, disciple, and play an active role in making a long-lasting impact in the lives of the students. Of course this will not be an easy task at all, but that will not stop me to dream big and expect great things.

I am praying that God may be glorified in all things—in my teaching, in my relationships with the students, staff, Rob and others, in leadership, and in all other activities and events—may Jesus be the center, foundation, and the one receiving all honor, praise and adoration!

I think the most challenging part for me will be connecting with the students (since I have very little experience with youth) and keeping an eternity-focused youth ministry; in other words, I want to do youth ministry in light of eternity. I want to be intentional and make the best of every opportunity to make a long-lasting impact instead of just focusing on the now (which many have the tendency to do).

All in all, I am very excited to begin this new chapter in my life. My desire is to see a new generation of students that are committed, devoted and passionate for Jesus. Because if it wasn’t for Him, I wouldn’t have the opportunity in the first place; so everything is and always will be all about Jesus!

Any advice, insight, encouragement, and most importantly—prayer (and lots of it), will be more than welcomed and appreciated. Thanks!

For His glory,

Jonnathan Menendez