A Passion for Church Planting
A Q&A with Raymond Castro
As senior pastor of Iglesia La Mision Assembly of God in Nyack, New York, Raymond Castro has a lot of passion and plenty of experience in church planting. He leads the Hispanic Church Planting Task Force for the Spanish Eastern District, and his own congregation has answered the challenge as well.
INFLUENCE: You’ve seen some great multiplication among Hispanic churches on the East Coast. Tell us about that.
CASTRO: The Spanish Eastern District covers 17 states from New York in the north to North Carolina in the south. We have a wealth of backgrounds represented as well. Puerto Rican, Dominican, Cuban and more make up our demographic.
I’ve been pastoring for 12 years but have also spearheaded the church planting task force since 2009. During that time, we’ve planted 20 churches a year, on average, in our district.
We’ve mostly followed the parent affiliated church model, where a church plants a church that then plants another church or more. But the goal is for each church to become nationally affiliated as soon as it can.
What are some specific challenges and advantages you see as a Hispanic church planter?
Church planting is at the heart of ministry for Hispanic leaders. Before becoming a pastor, I was a missionary to Ecuador, where we planted several churches. It’s just normal in our culture to multiply one congregation into several other bodies.
“It’s just normal in our culture to multiply one congregation into several other bodies.” — Raymond Castro
The family structure is so strong among Hispanics, and it translates into the church life well. I can invite one person to an event, but I know that they may show up with their wife and kids and uncle and aunt and cousins!
However, it can be a challenge as well. It can be difficult to find locations and raise finances for Hispanic church planters. We try to send out teams of ministers to plant a new congregation, but not all pastors have the ability to replace key staff members. But we start with whomever we can and whatever resources we have.
In fact, our second church started in an auto garage. Today, it has a thriving ministry in its own facility and has planted two other daughter churches on its own.
How are you encouraging your church planters to be multipliers?
We meet every 15 days to go over planning and discipleship. Once a year, we have a rally to bring leaders together to share and encourage each other. We talk about it constantly among our church teams. It becomes a natural part of who we are.
What can Anglo churches do to help Hispanic church planters?
One easy step is to just open their facilities for us. There is a huge opportunity to partner with Hispanic churches. We may work differently, but the results are the same. We’re building the same Kingdom.
We have so much to learn from Anglo churches when it comes to systems and planning. But we have a lot to offer as well. We have a spirit of church planting, a real passion that is part of our culture. We need both of those things working together to make this work.
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2018 edition of Influence magazine.