A SIMPLE SHIFT IN PERSPECTIVE lifted an entire congregation out of a 20-year rut.
José was only in his twenties when the pastor of his small church fell ill and had to step down. The church knew they needed to find a new leader but didn’t realize they would be getting a new vision for the future as well. A bakery owner by trade, José agreed to step up and pastor Fe & Gracía Church. For decades, the tiny church was concerned primarily with its own matters. Focusing mainly on the people inside its four walls, they were missing out on those just beyond them. God began to move.
He called José to raise the eyes of the church and direct them to look up and out. This was a major shift for the congregation. As they began opening their homes to people outside the church and inviting them to attend services and get involved, their small congregation quickly doubled in size—from 30 to more than 60. But God’s plan was only beginning to unfold.
ENLACE, an organization that equips local churches to engage their communities in meaningful and helpful ways, encouraged Fe & Gracía Church to bring hope to their town by purposefully and effectively serving the broader community. Some in the congregation felt it was outside the church’s role to help meet tangible needs of people in the community—that it wasn’t spiritual. But as they began to work with their neighbors—meeting needs, repairing streets and buildings, starting economic development initiatives, and helping develop home gardens—they discovered that serving their neighbors might be the most spiritual thing they could do. The church congregation began to take genuine interest in the well-being of their village and all those who live within it. Interest turned into concern, which turned into love.
As they came to love their neighbors, doors opened and favor fell upon them. The church, now 150 strong, decided to stop waiting for their community to come to them to find hope. Instead, they risked going out and becoming the hope their community needed.