Brazil: Hospitality, Folklore, Pop Songs and Bearing Fruit
by Tim Lee, for the team
I have only been in Brazil for a short time, but there are so many things that have amazed me about this county. For starters, I could easily rave about the warm hospitality that I’ve received, the delicious food I have eaten, and the number of extra pounds I have put on. Or in visiting a number of churches, I could share of a long-standing Presbyterian church that has adapted old traditions to fit contemporary culture. I was mesmerized by the use of modern art and stained glass to communicate its eight values, its multiple choirs for the adults, youth, and children, and a converted prayer chapel with the soft blue glow in the outline of the cross, rich with tradition, silence, and symbolism yet fitting a chic, calming ambiance.
I could share about a church plant that has couches and round tables along the perimeter of the worship center, opening the service with a top 40s pop song, and the pastor preaching on Brazilian folklore in training the church to better understand today’s culture and values, where they come from, and how Scripture speaks into that.
I could even share about the communal aspect of the Brazilian church that is not limited to programs and schedules. My Brazilian sisters and brothers in Christ host weekly Bible studies that meet for four hours (8:00 p.m. – 12 midnight!) to enjoy Scripture and life together as well as all types of other gatherings where not a single person was looking at their watch simply because they were enjoying each other’s company. I believe there is much that the church in the U.S. can learn from the church in Brazil.
But what I do want to share is this: in my short time with the Brazilian church, I see their passion and desire to see more and more Christ communities planted so that many more people will experience Jesus.
One leader at this three-year church plant shared, “My dream is to see another church planted from this one.” This church plant hasn’t even been chartered by its denomination. Yet this man’s goal is to see this church not only bearing fruit in terms of people, but in terms of communities!
Among the Brazilian leaders, elders, and pastors I have met with, they seem to hold this bigger vision beyond themselves and their churches. I see these established churches send, support, and commission their planting leaders in their endeavors to reach new pockets of the community. This is especially evident in the large number of missionaries that Brazil sends to other parts of the world.
In my experience in the United States, I have encountered many planters and church plants with a number of them becoming successful. However, I do notice it is almost always the planters themselves that hold the value of planting a new community rather than the churches. So I wonder, what could it look like if our churches embraced the value of sending out their own to plant new worshipping communities?
All this in my first days in the country. I look forward to what God has in store for us the rest of the week.
Placentia Presbyterian Church, Placentia, CA