"From his church planting experience, Gudino knows well the importance of bringing the church to people."
If you're searching La Roca Church online, you'll find it under una iglesia diferente -- a different church. Rev. Nestor Gudino and his wife, Keila, planted La Roca in 2011 to bring the church to people in a simple, relevant way. Today, La Roca's congregation is comprised of people from around 15 different nations worshipping together in one of the church's two North Carolina campuses.
“We want people to feel as a family and to help them little by little to know their Savior,” said Gudino.
Gudino serves as the Hispanic multiplication catalyst for the Church Multiplication Collective (CMC), an initiative of The Wesleyan Church (TWC) designed to equip church planters with needed resources. By 2021, Gudino hopes his work collecting, analyzing and contextualizing existing church planting resources will produce a training program that can be used in many different districts.
"From his church planting experience, Gudino knows well the importance of bringing the church to people." He became a Christ-follower after moving to the United States from Argentina, when some friends invited him to church. After giving his life to Christ, he asked God to use him.
“I remember seeing my pastor, Jose Miñoso, as he served with passion and gave himself completely to his congregation,” said Gudino. “So, I ‘followed’ my pastor and accompanied him wherever he went.” Gudino then attended FLAMA, TWC’s non-traditional ministry training program specifically designed for Hispanic leaders.
FLAMA’s model of equipping lay people for ministerial work has been instrumental to the growth of the Hispanic church in the North Carolina West District. According to Rev. Jerry Lumston, district superintendent, “Their thinking is, ‘we’ve raised up this new generation of believers. We’re going to train them.’ And that's been the key to their success.”
According to Lumston, “His [Gudino’s] wife will be ordained this year, and they work together. It’s not uncommon for them to do a couple of services, then go over and do another campus … They’re always looking and saying, ‘where is there a group of people that need the gospel and aren’t being reached?’”
Gudino is working on a discipleship system to help develop mature disciples for Christ at each La Roca campus. “In our church,” he said, “we want to invest … our resources, our money, in people — not just in places or in things but in people. They’re going to make an impact in more people. They have the gifts, and they want to learn more and practice more of those gifts.”
A tireless love for others and a desire to try new things shows up in Gudino’s work with La Roca and CMC. La Roca’s new campus, “The Living Room,” is focused on reaching second- and third-generation Hispanics.
“We have noticed that there comes a point where second-generation Hispanics move away from the Hispanic church because it is no longer relevant to their lives,” said Gudino. “I say we are being innovative, because I have heard of many American churches starting a campus in Spanish but never heard of a Hispanic church starting a campus in English.”
In many ways, the Gudinos’ work in church planting begins with felt needs. When planting La Roca’s second campus in Greensboro, Gudino said, “We started with a small Bible study with families who lived there, until God gave us the opportunity to start having services … God has brought hundreds of people with different needs and has given us the resources to meet them.”
Their mindset is a great example of taking kingdom risks for kingdom growth.
“I think The Wesleyan Church could learn from the hands-on … support that our North Carolina West District gives our Hispanic ministry,” said Miñoso. “And they can also learn from our Hispanic ministry about the importance of unity that is needed to be able to reach the least of the least of the Hispanic community.”
Now, working with the CMC, Gudino is addressing another felt need: providing training materials to the Hispanic population of TWC. Though there are many church planting resources, they need contextualized to the culture of the people that will use them.
“My main advice would be to start now and don’t wait until you have everything solved and all the answers to start multiplying,” Gudino said. “I believe that the church can learn a lot from us Hispanics, that with very few resources we have been able to plant churches that flourish in the midst of difficulties and continue reaching thousands of souls.”