When we set out to plant “Reformed Church of Los Angeles” 3 years ago, we’d always planned to be a church planting church, we didn’t really know how, where, when, or who would plant, just that we’d be planting again. One thing we knew for sure was that we’d plant in Wilmington, CA. it made sense since my brother Pastor Chris Márquez has lived there his whole life. It was something we’d talked about often, but had more questions than answers. I’ve written previously about how our team has shifted drastically since launching, but God in His mercies has drawn some amazing folks to join our church and commit to our mission of planting more healthy, confessionally Reformed churches in the hood by making disciples.
The Lord has graciously brought to our church multiple groups of men who are passionate about the work that has been done in Lynwood and anxious to see the same type of ministry in their neighborhoods. Because we’re adamant about church membership being a biblical imperative (1 Cor. 12:21-26; Acts 20:28; Matthew 18:16-17; 1 Cor. 5:12-13; and Heb. 13:17), we’ve been adamant about training up leaders to help our church planting efforts. We’ve gone from ministering in Lynwood, Compton, and Watts to soft launching in Wilmington in just a couple of weeks, while simultaneously preparing men to plant Reformed Churches in San Bernardino, Santa Ana, and Arizona. How in the world has this happened? Well, I wish I could tell you it’s because we did a, b, and c; but the truth is that God has done it, we’ve just been along for the ride.
Today we baptized one person and received 12 more as new members. Our turn out for Lord’s Day corporate worship service was a little over a 100 people, so how do we plan on planting 4 more churches with just 100 people? Great question! A better one, is how are we planning on planting 4 more churches without any money? An even better question, and the answer is that we just don’t know. What we do know is that God has sovereignly been drawing the right people, with the right giftings, and the right passions to plant. We will do all that we can to prepare and train them up to plant alongside their families. We plan on taking them through a multi-faceted training, help strengthen their marriages, deepen relationships with their children, and start actively fundraising for these plants. I think that’s one of the hardest parts or struggles… the finances! You see, our whole get down is to go into the hoods, the under-resourced communities that most people are trying to get out of, we’re trying to take solid theology to the hoods, because Jesus loves the hood too!
For many folks, they’re more concerned with getting out of the hood than what kind of churches are starting there. And all too often Christian folk are more concerned with visiting the hood, doing day mission trips there, taking some dope selfies, and then going back home. There aren’t too many folks moving into the hood for the purpose of supporting theologically sound churches that would in turn plant more theologically sound churches. There aren’t too many folks that are trying to truly and genuinely engage with their communities, and instead are ok with commuting into a building, having church and then going home. I ain’t hating, but I wonder just how effective that model is.
Just yesterday afternoon I went on a bike ride ALL through the hood. My brotha’ Adrian Bañales and myself took off from my house in Lynwood, crossed over into South Gate, went into the heart of Watts, cruised all through Compton, and then back to Lynwood. While we were getting ready to cross Alameda into Watts off of 92nd Street, I heard someone honk and yell. I looked back at Adrian and then I saw an SUV with a big old dude, mean looking cholo bending over to say something. I got a closer look and realized it was my homeboy Big Pete Cuevas, first thing I yelled was, “When are you gonna join us at church?!” I got a wide eyed grin back from him and I asked him to please send my love and “saludos” to his brother Snake.
At that moment I remembered once again why I need to stay in the community that God has called me to minister in and minister to! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you can’t live outside, but the odds of being more successful, more impacting, and deeper engagement is by living in the community we minister in and to. Whether it’s going to the corner to buy milk and eggs, walking your dog, pumping gas, or riding your bike. The neighborhood sees you all the time, all days, not just an hour or two on Sundays.
By God’s grace, the men we are training up to plant are or will be living in their neighborhoods. Jesus loves the hood, not just upper middle class or affluent neighborhoods. Jesus walked with the hoods of His day. He walked with the marginalized, Jesus walked amongst the people, Jesus knew their needs, and Jesus helped meet those needs. May we do the same as we plant more confessionally Reformed churches in the hoods across Southern California and Arizona, our Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. There are some exciting changes coming up for us this year, can’t speak on it now, but will definitely be doing so hopefully by the end of the Spring. If you’re so inclined to help support our church planting efforts, let me know and I’d be glad to let you know how you can pray for us, or help us. If you’d like to support these efforts financially, we’d be super grateful, or if you’d like to join these efforts here in person with your gifts and talents, hit me up too.
For now, please pray for the following church planting and ministry efforts:
- Reformed Church L.A. Wilmington – Pastor Chris Márquez
- Reformed Church of the Inland Empire – Sam Montes & David Cabrera
- Reformed Church of Orange County – Martin & Victor Velazquez and Justin Corona
- Reformed Church of Arizona – Alex Diaz
- Reformed Church of L.A. Lynwood Español – Merari Herrera
Our small network of Reformed Churches is pulling together and we’re calling it “Guerilla Church Planting” because planting confessionally Reformed churches in the hood is a straight mission, it’s spiritual guerilla warfare. This year has already started out with complications but we know that Christ is on the throne and that gives us hope… as a matter of fact, its our only hope. Psalm 39:7, “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.” We’ll continue to push, we’ll continue to preach Christ crucified, repentance of sin, and trusting in Christ alone.