Building a Social Capital of Relationships

     by Byron Pellecer, WDC Associate Conference Minister (Texas-Based)

I am constantly reminded that faith makes impossible things possible and not necessarily easy. Therefore, I expect challenges not only in my life and ministry but specially in church planting.

Among the many challenges that the 21st century Church faces, is to believe that faith has to do with easy. Such thinking can lead us to evade our responsibilities.

My reading of Acts 3, led me to reflect on church planting strategies like prayer, healing, testimony, taking risk, connecting, and building relationships. Furthermore, it prompted me to be vigilant of God’s activity in my community.

On the one hand, in the background of this text, Jesus’ resurrection, the experience of Pentecost and of a life of devotion are present.

On the other hand, the gospel of Jesus Christ on the lips of the disciples has moved the new and unexperienced community of believers to the very heart of national religious life, to the Temple.

Peter and John are on their way to the Temple to pray as usual. Such practice indicates not only a life of devotion, but it also signals a sort of social life tradition. I am sure they met with other individuals who practice this spiritual discipline as well.

One of the many approaches, good practices or strategies in church planting is to depend on prayer and to build a social capital of relationships. To build rapport with your community not only takes time but it also requires opening one’s life to the public. Furthermore, it makes one vulnerable.

Every time that I find an opportunity to witness to Jesus Christ to my neighbors, I am mindful that not everybody will be open to a gospel conversation through a friendly chat and yet, I am also encouraged by Paul words to the Romans “For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes the Jew first and also the Gentile (Romans 1:16 NLT).”

This power of God at work, is a power that causes healing in some, amazement in others and it provokes anger in the vested interests of those who are threatened by this new life transforming power.

We must admit that the history of the church has examples of short-term communities whose definition of church was more of a pleasant and closed place only for the elect, where everybody looked similar. However, we are challenged to correct such short-sighted comprehension by embracing continuous disciple-making. Such practice implies building rapport in our community which requires us to “go out.”

In other words, the Church needs to decide between the “being inside” approach versus the “get out and go” approach. We need to reclaim and embrace our sacred duty, we need to fulfill our mission. Our call is to holistic witness as agents of healing and hope and bearers of the good news.

Let us be alert to God’s activity in our local communities that may signal an emerging group.

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