Pastor Emilio Abreu says that Family Worship Center, the growing Assemblies of God church he leads in Asuncion, Paraguay, is committed to more than its own expansion.
"We are birthing new churches and building two more churches besides our own project," Abreu says. Along with a planned sanctuary expected to seat 20,000, Abreu's congregation is underwriting church buildings in the city of Nemby and a barrio in Asuncion that will hold 700 and 1,000 people respectively.
This brings to 11 the number of churches planted during Family Worship Center's history.
Abreu cites the use of home cell groups as a key to growth. Within his church, an expanding network of home groups accounts for many new attendees at the church in recent years. Abreu leads a group of a dozen men; his wife Bethany teaches 12 women. These group members, in turn, lead other home outreaches. There are also specialized groups for adolescents, university students and single adults.
When a neighborhood home group grows, it sometimes leads to the formation of a new congregation.
"Right now two groups are drawing a lot of people," Abreu says. "Eventually, they will become churches. That's the way to start churches, to recognize where God is at work and then plant the church."