A Vision for Guerrero, Mexico
For three years, Saddleback missionaries Hector and Rebecca Tamez traveled back-and-forth from Orange County to Southern Mexico on PEACE trips. Throughout that time, they recognized the dire need for healthy, Purpose Driven Churches.
In 2014, Saddleback’s PEACE Plan Pastor, Mike Constantz met with Hector at the Lake Forest campus to discuss necessary steps to launch Purpose Driven (PD) strategies and the PEACE Plan in Mexico. Just three weeks after their meeting, Hector and Rebecca held their first PD/PEACE seminar in the state of Guerrero.
Pastors from across the region immediately fell in love with the idea of reproducing healthy, Purpose Driven Churches in their own communities. They embraced the vision and requested that the PD Team return to launch the eight-module Purpose Driven Essentials.
Hector recalls, “Mike and I stayed up until 3:00 AM that morning, discussing the vision and transformation that this could bring to churches across the state. That’s when Mike suggested that Saddleback adopt the state of Guerrero to launch a full scale PD/PEACE movement.”
To help bring the dream to fruition, Hector began strategizing a plan to implement PD/PEACE in Guerrero. Meanwhile, Mike Constantz, Chief of Staff David Chrzan, and the PEACE Team had been praying about the vision on their own. They felt that God was calling Saddleback to not only launch PD/PEACE in Guerrero, but to also bring the principles to five additional states in Mexico.
Within a week, the determined team had developed a program and budget to carry out the task. Shortly thereafter, Hector led the very first PD/PEACE seminar in Guerrero. They expected to connect with the same 60 pastors who had attended the previous vision casting conference in 2014. Instead, over 150 senior pastors and 80 lay leaders gathered for the inaugural meeting.
PD/PEACE Launches in 10 Mexican States
More conferences followed in the five Mexican states, all experiencing the same remarkable turnout. By the end of the first round of Essentials training, over 2,000 pastors representing 1,200 churches had completed Module 1. Word quickly spread of the valuable training, resulting in church leaders from neighboring states requesting that PD/PEACE become available locally.
Today over 100 PD/PEACE events have taken place in Guerrero, Chiapas, Nuevo Leon, Oaxaca, Puebla, Veracruz, Mexico City, Baja California, State of Mexico, and Michoacán.
With 32 states nationwide, this is just the beginning for PD in Mexico. As Hector explains, “We are actively working in 10 states where we know the paradigm is being implemented and where we are training coaches to carry on the work to every corner of their respective states. We know of at least seven other states that have PD Churches, so we are now projecting to begin work in those areas to fuel the movement.”
Despite the momentum, Hector realizes there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done. Yet he is confident that other churches will want to join the movement when they see the benefits of healthy churches around them.
Reaching Unengaged, Unreached People Groups (UUPG’s)
Another benefit of training in Mexico’s southern region is that it is strategically located near several unreached people groups. Considering the high illiteracy rates within the UUPGs, Hector often trains leaders verbally with stories and examples rather than with written materials. Not only has this commitment helped reach UUPGs, but it also helped bring in 30 Global PEACE Churches (GPC’s) during that first year of training.
Additionally, these GPC’s are excited to see their members motivated about the Great Commission and Great Commandment. They are encouraged to be taking the Gospel to their Jerusalem (local community), their Judea (nearby communities), their Samaria (those from different cultures in surrounding cities and villages) and to the Ends of the Earth (UUPG’s). They feel a strong calling to be on mission and to use all their training they gained in CLASSES 101–401.
With this sort of multiplication model, it’s no wonder PD and PEACE are growing exponentially across Mexico, as members are engaged and pastors are equipped to train other pastors in their circle of influence. In the process, local churches are thrilled with the transformation and growth they are experiencing after implementing the PD paradigm and the PEACE Plan.
Planting Saddleback Puebla
As the Purpose Driven Team began training coaches who had implemented the PD paradigm, they noticed a need for a local, Latin PD model church. Although there were Purpose Driven churches in Mexico, there were none that were consistently following a model of church health. Despite Hector’s references to Saddleback Church in training, he found the response to often be: “Yes, but that’s in the US, and the culture there is different than ours.”
This caused Hector and the team to rethink their strategy on how to show the PD/PEACE model in a way local pastors could understand. “We decided to start a church in the Latin culture,” says Hector. “A church that would not only be a Purpose Driven Church, but one that would be completely modeled after Saddleback Church.”
By faith, Hector and his wife Rebecca started plans to open the doors to a new Purpose Driven Church. In early 2016, they organized a launch team and trained them in the PD paradigm. By the second quarter, they simulated Saddleback-style worship services, and by the third quarter they made cultural adjustments to appeal to the community. On December 18, 2016, they officially launched Saddleback Puebla in the six-car garage of their Global PEACE Training Center.
Their slogan became, “A Church for the Un-churched”. On that first Sunday, they expected only a handful of people to attend since many people travel during the holidays. Instead, more than 60 people turned up for the first service. Less than one year later, they are averaging 100 people per service, still meeting in the parking garage that has now reached capacity. Next month, they plan to launch a second service to help grow the church family.
Nearly 65 people have completed CLASSES 101–401, with members driving from four states and six cities every Sunday just to be in the service.
“We have launched the PEACE Plan in our church and surrounding community,” says Hector. “—and we have outreaches within each of the P.E.A.C.E. letters. We have a team currently going through the Celebrate Recovery program that we are preparing to launch for the community in September of this year.”
In just six months, they trained 75 local pastors and 8 volunteer members in the PEACE UUPG Church Planting Movement. This will equip them to begin church plants in nearby UUPG’s in the coming months. Additionally, Saddleback Puebla is laying the foundation to plant six model churches in strategic locations throughout Mexico, so that other PD churches can see the PD/PEACE model in action.
The Next Phase
Today, Hector serves as Lead Pastor of Saddleback Puebla and continues to train leaders in Purpose Driven strategies. He has also shared his experiences with pastors in South Sudan on ways to reach UUPGs.
“We envision a movement that will grow exponentially throughout Mexico,” says Hector, “and that will leak into the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. In the coming years, we expect to see existing churches becoming Global Peace Churches, and new churches being planted across all regions in Latin America.”