It’s become common for many churches – to offer the same church experience in many sites – even partnering with declining congregations of the same tradition to instill new life through new ministry. That’s the creative idea lead pastor Jorge Acevedo is putting into action with Grace Church in South Florida, a United Methodist congregation.
Jorge has won many accolades for his 15 year turn around of a declining church of 350 that now welcomes more than 2,500 people into its 4 campus fellowships each weekend. Jorge says it’s been a team effort that recognizes the gifts of lay people just as much as the clergy. You’ll be inspired by Jorge’s straight talk and deep passion for the Gospel.
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Developing healthy, holy systems is what Jorge Acevedo credits with the rapid expansion of his South Florida church. His congregation’s DNA expects and plans for expansion. Jorge says his biggest challenge is turning converts into disciples, but he’s got plans there as well. Here are my notes from the interview:
Get a Clear Look at Your Decline
Jorge says that most North American churches are like drug addicts; they live in denial and are literally unable to see how grave their situations are. He suggests an outside voice, a truth-teller, as a starting point, who will avoid blame and give a clear picture.
Shared Preaching at Different Sites
Unlike many multi-site ventures, Grace Church has 4 campuses with 4 pastors, all of whom work from the same sermon outline each week (Jorge puts this together) but develop different sermons using the same texts. Before they preach, the 4 share their notes which, Jorge says, is a unique but incredibly inspiring.
Preachers Must Be Mature
Jorge quotes a study that says 72% of North American ministers only read the Bible for sermon preparation and 26% admit they don’t have the spiritual life they need to convey the truth. Maturity starts at the top, and Jorge says, this is sorely missing in too many churches.
About Jorge Acevedo
Jorge Acevedo is the Lead Pastor at Grace Church, a multi-site, United Methodist congregation in Southwest Florida (Cape Coral, Fort Myers Shores and North Fort Myers). This church has grown in its weekend attendance from 400 to over 2600 in the past thirteen years. Grace Church is recognized as having one of the largest and most effective recovery ministries in America with over 800 people involved in weekly recovery ministries.
Jorge is a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary. He was ordained as a Deacon in the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church in May, 1986, and an Elder in May 1990. He was the 2001 recipient of the Denman Evangelism Award from the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church given to a pastor for excellence in evangelism. Jorge co-authored The Heart of Youth Ministry with Hule Goddard, which was published by Bristol Books in January of 1989. Jorge was married in November, 1981, to Cheryl.
Books Jorge Recommends
A Work of Heart – Reggie McNeal
The Ragamuffin Gospel – Brennan Manning
The Pastor – Eugene Peterson
Sponsors I Mentioned
Church Post – If you are looking to improve your church’s communications you’ve got to check out this great email platform. I’ve found it easy-to-use, reliable, and John, Debra and Kim are great to work with.
Wistia- If you’re still hosting your videos at YouTube or another ‘free’ video sharing site you know the drawbacks. Wistia helps me put out great looking videos and see who’s watching for how long. The Wistia staff is easy to work with and very professional.
The Grow My Church Store – Everything from mugs to pens to fridge magnets, this is a promotional products store aimed at helping churches become closer communities, more hospitable, and welcoming. I started this store and shop there often because I couldn’t find anywhere else to go for these products.