How did I become a church planter? I was born in Brazil and raised by a Christian family. In 1992 I publicly expressed my faith in Christ and was baptised at First Baptist Church in Goiania, Brazil. When I completed my secondary school education, in 1999, I start up a company and studied for a degree in Business. During my studies I met Aluanna at university and we got married. In 2003, after selling my business, I moved with my wife moved to London to study English as a second language. Our plan was to stay in London for maximum six months, but we end up here for six years. The reason why we spent such a long time in London was due to a church planting that I started by accident. Let me explain.
My first church planting experience began as soon as I moved to London, my wife and I attended an English-speaking church but understood little. So, I decided to study the Bible with her in Portuguese at home. Soon our friends heard about it and wanted to join us. By 2005 a group of 15 friends decided to plant a Portuguese speaking evangelical church in London. As the gospel was faithfully preached, people were converted. Many of these were migrant workers and students who then went back to their home countries, including my family when we moved in 2009 to Brazil.
My second church planting began in 2010. I was invited, by my mother church, to help my uncle, a pastor, to revitalise a twenty years old church planting they had. This church once had 200 members but because of a scandal, involving the church planter, it ended up with a group of ten people. That was one of the hardest church restart I have heard of. Just to give you an example of that, the remaining church members thought they did not have to give regularly because they believed that by selling second hand clothes in the temple during the week were the best way to contribute financially. When they were asked to stop this project and begin to contribute, 2/3 of the members left. However, by God’s grace, in 2015 I left this church planting with a congregation of more than forty members and a big children’s ministry.
I am now in my third church planting project, but I would not call myself a specialist. Instead, I’d call myself a learner. Let me explain why. In 2015, I moved back to London with my family to plant Mosaic Multicultural Church in partnership with Co-Mission. I was very confident that I already knew how to plan a church. However, after three years planting MMC in London, I realised that I have a lot to learn. I have made a lot of mistakes! Painful mistakes that I want to share so that you may avoid getting hurt in the future by learning from my mistakes.
Mistake #1: I thought that a good intention, a good plan, was all I needed to plant a church in London. Reality? I need God’s intention to see it happen.
When I ask people to look at Mosaic Church Planting Proposal (a document in which we describe our vision, mission, values and strategy) to tell us what could be improved in order to see Mosaic becoming an established church, the answer is often, “Don’t change anything”. The reason for that is simple, almost everything that is proposed in our plan is biblical and some have worked well. So why to change it? Let me give you an example.
In order to get engage with people, especially internationals, we began a project called, “English for Everybody”, teaching English as a second language. Through this initiative, I personally met more than 200 people from 13 different countries. But that is not all. The project became the feeder of our evangelistic course, Christianity Explored. From 2015 to 2017, more than 40 people heard the gospel for the first time with a core team of four people. However, although we had the numbers, nobody ever got saved through our initiatives. To cut a long story short, in 2018 we decided to stop running “English for Everybody”.
When I am asked why our plan did not work, concerning the fact that we did not have any evident conversation, I have only one answer to give, “It was not God’s time, I suppose”. Another reason that I can think of is that I believe God was protecting me from myself. If all the 44 people who heard the gospel through us had put their trust in Jesus, we would have had a growth of 1000%. Right now, I would not be talking about my mistake but selling book on how to grow a church from nothing in London.
So, I thought that a good intention, a good plan, was all I needed to plant a church in London. Reality? I need God’s intention to see it happen.
Mistake #2: I thought that to plant a diverse church in London I only needed to be intentional in reaching out people from different backgrounds. Reality? My intentionality had the growth of my local church as the main motivation instead of the growth of heaven, a multicultural paradise (Revelation 7:9), as my high priority.
When I decided to start up a church, I wanted to see people from different backgrounds being saved and having fellowship together despite our cultural preferences. I had the passion for different cultures and compassion for the lost. However, my intent. Let me give you two examples.
One day, I was on the street handling flyers and talk to people when I heard a young man talking on the phone about the difficulties he was facing in life. My pastoral instincts soon asked me to talk to that man, but my church planting intentionality said, “Ignore him because he is not planning to live in London, so why bother with him if he is not going to grow your church.” However, five minutes later, I was hit by the Holy Spirit who rebuked my conscious by saying, “You are not here to grow your church but to grow my church. After that, I introduced myself and we talked for more than an hour about God.
Another example, took place when I was praying for those I had shared the gospel since I moved in 2015. I asked God to save them. However, when I finished the Holy Spirit rebuked me by saying, “Why do you want all these people to get saved? Is it because you want to see your local church growing or because you want to see my universal church growing?” Deep inside, my main motivation was the growth of my church planting. Since that day I have been ask God to give me compassion for the lost so that I can pray for them in an unselfish manner.
So, I thought that to plant a diverse church in London I only needed to be intentional in reaching out people from different backgrounds. Reality? My intentionality had the growth of my local church as the main motivation instead of the growth of heaven, a multicultural paradise (Revelation 7:9), as my high priority.
Mistake #3: I thought that I needed to become an expert regarding each religion represented in London in order to plant a church. Reality? Before becoming a religious studies professor, I need to become an expert in the Bible.
Mistake #5: I thought that by planting a church in London God would use me to change people’s lives. Reality? God is constantly using people to change my life.
think they can do a better job than other churches. At least that is what I had in mind. I thought I was a kind of saviour who came to London to lead people to God. To help the English churches to experience another revival. Yes, I have the Messiah complex. But I am getting headed of it with the help of some people who never thought they could lead me closer to God.
Mistake #6: I thought that I had to call the trained to form the leadership team of our church planting. Reality? We are forming our leadership team by training the called. I’m immensely proud of them.
Mistake #7: I thought, many times, about giving up on planting a church in London. Reality? Every single time I decided to quit, God did something remarkable in our church as if He was saying, “You are not the one in control, I AM”.