Brazil (BNc)- The following article was written to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of a neighboring church’s bulletin and was translated from the Portuguese for BNc.
The Brazilian Church in the Last 20 Years: Mistakes, Successes and Challenges
by J. Randal Matheny
In honor of the twentieth anniversary of the Guarulhos church bulletin, “Amo Jesus” (I Love Jesus), I was given the assignment to write about the church in Brazil during this period.
The celebration is an especially happy one for our congregation in São José dos Campos, since we will also celebrate, in October, 20 years of work in the Paraiba Valley.
We give thanks to God for every good work and confess our need to grow more and more in the grace and wisdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of space restrictions, we will speak in general terms.
ERRORS. The greatest error, in a strategic sense, that was committed in the church’s work in the last 20 years was to evangelize through an institutional approach, instead of investing in personal evangelism. We depended on the School of the Bible to convert people.
In the short term, such efforts gave good results, but they didn’t teach converts how to teach others.
Long term, evangelism becomes chained to a model impossible to imitate and to an infra-structure difficult to underwrite.
Another effect of this approach is the tendency, already present in society, to professionalize evangelism. It wound up reinforcing, both for those without as well as for the brotherhood, the idea that the mission of God should be fulfilled by trained men, qualified above the average person.
Another error is thinking that financial resources are what is most lacking in the church.
SUCCESSES. Since the beginning, we have been aware of belonging to a national and international brotherhood. We understand that we are part of a family that is larger than the local congregation. Through lectureships, conferences and camps, we have developed a spirit of fraternal love among brethren from other states and regions.
Perhaps because of this, we have developed hospitality and generosity among us and a healthy concern for the well-being of the brethren and for the growth of the church in every place.
CHALLENGES. Our greatest challenge, which we already face, is to preserve sound doctrine in the church. False teachers want to redefine the church as a denomination, turn grace into licentiousness and open the doors to anyone who claims Jesus as Savior. We need brethren willing to speak up in behalf of the truth.
Another challenge is to intensify even more our evangelistic efforts and the preaching of the gospel in more and more places where the Biblical truth has yet to be proclaimed.
RESULT. We have the treasure of the gospel in earthen jars. God uses our imperfect efforts to bring complete salvation to the obedient. Glory to the Lord for this!
For background to this article, see Randal’s blog post.
Randal and his wife Vicki have lived and worked in Brazil since Nov. 1984. They have three children, two daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren. He likes to read novels in his back-porch hammock. http://randal.us