Two years ago, a western North Carolina church and a growing home Bible study began a partnership that led to the recent launch of a Hispanic church plant, Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church en Español.
“I am excited to know that I can do the will of our Lord,” Carlos Perez, the new church’s pastor, said about the launch. “Knowing that it is God’s work and that He is in control even though things seem difficult, that He has promised to be with me.”
In January 2020, Phil Goble, senior pastor of Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church (MPBC), received a call from Truett Associational Mission Strategist (AMS) Al Hood.
Hood told him about Perez, who was part of another church in Peachtree, N.C., and had started a Bible study in his house in Hayesville. Hood asked Goble if Mt. Pleasant would be interested in hosting the group as a Hispanic mission gathering.
Mt. Pleasant had a youth room that wasn’t used on Sunday mornings and an available Sunday School room, where the group began to meet. They provided Perez with an office and made him part of the church staff, as director of the Hispanic ministry.
Last November, Goble introduced Perez to Steve Harris, who serves as the mission catalyst for their region, to begin a process of launching MPBC en Español as a church plant. Goble was connected to William Ortega, the Hispanic church planting strategist.
Ortega, who had already been working with Perez, called Perez “the answer of Luke 10:2” – a man with excitement and passion for reaching the lost and going into the harvest.
Perez will join more than 40 other Hispanic church planters and leaders for a church planting training that begins this month. Another leader from Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church en Español will also participate with the intention of church planting in the future.
Goble expressed similar excitement, remembering the vision he heard from Todd Unzicker, the state convention’s executive director-treasurer, about “wanting to be a convention of churches that plant churches.”
Partners on mission together
MPBC en Español’s early days leading up to its launch saw unique challenges. Soon after starting to meet in the Hayesville facility, restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic forced them back into homes for several months.
But the house church format helped Perez build relationships with those in the community, Ortega said. Now they’re extending outreach by connecting with families through soccer games.
Perez credited the partnership with Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church, borne out of a shared heart for church planting, for facilitating a smooth transition to a church plant.
“The love of Jesus dwells in their hearts as a church,” Perez said. “They have shown us a lot of love and support. Pastor Phil [Goble] has helped me a lot … he has been patient because our language is not the same, but he has always been with me and his support for the work of the Lord is great.”
Goble also pointed to an established relationship with Truett Baptist Association as a source of support. He encourages other pastors to communicate any interest in church planting with their AMS.
“When that opportunity came, he [Hood] knew. I think that’s why he called us,” Goble said.
“It was not a big, extensive project. The state convention was ready to help. Don’t let it overwhelm you.”
Goble encouraged churches to be “open and attentive to your community and your surroundings” and to pray about becoming “a church that plants churches.”
“(God is) going to open the doors,” he said.
Regional networks of church planters also provide additional support between pastors, especially among Hispanic church planters, Ortega added. They make it possible for planters to share stories with each other, to learn from each other and to find inspiration for a shared vision.
It’s this common vision that Perez is grateful for, and that he says more churches need from each other.
“They need to have a clear vision of what God has called us to do and fulfill the mission. When we have understood the importance of working as a team and when our hearts are transformed by Jesus, then we can see the needs of others, and in that way we can help each other.”
To learn more about Hispanic church planting, contact William Ortega at [email protected].
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Liz Tablazon writes for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s communications team.)