Brazil #3: "No doubt it is the work of the Holy Spirit"
by Rev. Rocky Stone, Farmville Presbyterian Church, NC
On our second day in Brazil we met with Pastor Francisco, the senior pastor of Manaus Pres. Church to discuss the church’s missional model and experience. I was a bit surprised that he would make time to meet with our little group of 5 people representing our churches and The Outreach Foundation, but I was more perplexed as to why we were meeting at 11:15 am. I knew that the church had several pastors and shared preaching duties, but why meet on Sunday morning at this time? Well, as it happens they have three Sunday services at their two main locations, but none at 11:00. The most attended service is at 6:15 pm. We later attended this very lively worship service in a large converted warehouse (former car dealership). The sanctuary seated 2,600 people and majored in functionality vs. aesthetics. That, like most things at this church, was very purposeful.
The Presbyterian Church of Manaus has about 10,000 members, adding about 750 new members annually. It has two main sites but also has 36 daughter churches throughout the city. Manaus is a city of over 2 million people, but it is Brazil’s largest city from a land mass perspective. It covers 4,400 square miles. The church has 450 home cell groups and a thorough training process for all home cell leaders. They are fully focused on spreading the Gospel. For me, the most striking feature of MPC is that it is missional to its core. 80% of its budget goes to mission outreach and evangelism, including a huge outreach to the forgotten people along the Amazon River and a committed outreach within the city through various homeless and refugee ministries. Despite all the planning and follow through, both pastor Francisco and D'jard (our host mission pastor) were unequivocal about why the church is experiencing such spiritual and numerical growth. “No doubt it is the work of the Holy Spirit.” Their experience is much like the early church with integrity and growth coming from the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through both individuals and groups.
As I pondered how different my church and ministry setting were from this megachurch in the middle of the Amazon, I was also most struck with how we should be the same. May we all find ways to welcome and not quench the Holy Spirit’s work within our midst.
In Christ’s love,