First Steps

We have taken our first official step in church planting. Three incredible families joined me at the Life-on-Life Discipleship Clinic in ATL to dream with me what it would look like to start with several discipleship groups. Let me put it this way: If you would have told me while I was in Atlanta that I would return with these people, I would not have believed you. You know God is at work by the quality of people with whom He surrounds you. In the future newsletters, I plan to introduce you to each one of these amazing families.

Jeff Dunbar was another huge highlight of our Discipleship Clinic (see picture below). Jeff is my Gospel Coach and we have done life for the past two years. God worked it out where he was also the coach for our group at the discipleship clinic. I had been telling my Miami people how Jeff is like a gospel ninja – an anointed pastor who can get to your heart in 3 minutes flat (all those who know Jeff, know that I’m not exaggerating). Jeff is someone you have to experience to understand, and everyone from Miami agreed. What a blessing for my two worlds to collide!

First Steps

Several have asked me when I am launching my church. And I’ve answered by saying that I want to start with the right people and the right focus. My desire is to weave multiplication into the fabric of our new church at every level: disciples who make disciples, leaders who equip leaders, community groups that send out community groups, and church that plant churches. Best practices have shown that if you start multiplying at the church level without having first multiplied at the smaller levels (disciples, leaders, and ministries), then you simply plant another worship service. That is why this first step of forming a gospel-centered discipleship culture is so crucial. It will take a little longer to launch a worship service but it will have a more solid foundation.

My hope is to form several discipleship groups by this Fall that will informally gather in one as a larger group at my house. After that, we’ll begin to plan for our worship launch, hopefully in 2019. Slower is faster! Going deeper now will enable us to go farther in the future.

Family Front

Here are some Smith family highlights and happenings…

Sandi & I had the treat of seeing Gary Campbell in Miami; a longtime family friend and president of the PCA’s Retirement & Benefits, Inc.

Eva and Mary have joined me on my travels back to the South as I visited supporting churches. On both trips, they have had the privilege of spend one-on-one time with their grandparents on their farm. They have been having a blast fishing, sowing, shooting, painting, riding in “the mule” and many other fun activities.

Recently, God gifted Adeline with a free trip to Washington D.C. with her 8th-grade class. Before she went, she asked me, “Dad, how can I glorify God with this gift? Should I preach the gospel?” To which I replied, “If God gives you an open door to share the good news, then of course! Preaching the gospel is not the only way you can glorify Him. I think by simply enjoying your trip will also glorify Him. He loves you dearly!” That was a tear-jerking conversation!

Prayer Points

  1. Please pray that God would form a solid, leadership team as we take steps together in starting an Ignition Group – a catalytic group to form more discipleship groups.
  2. Please pray for me to have opportunities to share the gospel and make disciples here in Miami.
  3. Finally, please continue to pray that God would lead me to a target area in Miami. Please pray is that God would give me clarity. The way I’m seeking clarity is through the receptivity of the lost and future leaders who willing to follow me as I follow Christ.

May God bless you richly as you trust Him for your future and wait on him in the present to supply you with the riches of his grace in Jesus Christ.

Allen Smith & Family

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Mountain Climbing

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Prayer is the number-one factor for success in church planting” (Craig Ott& Gene Wilson).

Over these past few months, I have attained exceptional clarity on what it is going to take to plant a church in Miami. By no means do I claim to be an expert on Miami or on church planting per se. However, I do claim to know what needs to been done in the next few years.

For my right-brain friends, let me put it this way: God has brought me up to the base of a very tall Mountain. I can see all the details very well from this angle – all the cracks and crannies and caves, the peaks and valleys – all is laid before my eyes. God then says, “All right, climb up.” The problem with this Mountain is that it is a straight up wall with no trails or graduated slopes. It looks more like a 5-mile high cliff than a mountain. It is literally impossible to climb!

Now for my left-brain friends, this is what I mean: My time at Perimeter Church has afforded me time and resources to do in-depth studies on church planting and  and the development of vision, character, calling and skills. I have researched the city of Miami, done demographic and ethnographic studies, developed a ministry plan, a 5-year budget, along with a working philosophy of ministry. Now I know I need to raise an astronomical amount of money, move my family into a community that is 90% international & 85% unreached (no affiliation with any religious organization), and plant a dynamic and sustainable church within 5 years. The task appears daunting!

At the base of this Mountain, God has been teaching me that prayer is my primary ministry. Church planting is an entirely spiritual venture.Only God can take me up this Mountain! A husband and wife cannot have a baby by simply dreaming  about or planning for a baby; they first must exercise their conjugal rights. The same is true for a church planter who cannot birth a church without prayer. Just as Neil Cole has famously said,

The church must be conceived in heaven before it is born on earth.”

I’m convinced now more than ever that a “successful” church plant will only be because our Father in heaven answers our prayers to bring His kingdom to earth. God alone can take me up the unscalable Mountain through your prayers! For that reason we are looking for several prayer warriors who will covenant to pray for us as we prepare to plant in Miami. If you’d like to join us in prayer, subscribe to our prayer newsletter:

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Here are some ways you can pray for us:

  • Prayer Partners. We are looking for 20 committed intercessors who are gifted in prayer and who long to see the gospel transform Miami and all Latin American. I would rather have 10-20 fully engaged  intercessors than 1,000 people subscribe to our prayer newsletter.
  • Financial Partners. We have just begun the fund raising process and have a few donors. City To City and Crossbridge Church has already pledged to match 1/3 of our support. We still need to raise $140K/year for the next five years. What we need the most is reoccurring financial partners (monthly, quarterly or yearly). My prayer is that half of our support would come from churches and the other half would come from individuals. In order for us to move to Miami by June 2017, we need to raise at least 80% of our support.
  • Right Place to Live in Miami. We have a good idea to where we want to move, but we still have some lingering questions. Starting this January I will begin to travel to Miami once a month for networking and training. I will get to visit our potential target area and do some more “spying out the land.” Please pray that God will give us great clarity on where we should move to in Miami.

No church-planting movement will rise above the prayer ministry of those involved with it.” (Ott & Wilson)

Partner with us in prayer!

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A Hurricane that Changed Miami Forever

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Photo Credit: Craig Rubadoux/Florida Today via AP

Miami used to be a sleepy Southern retirement community. In this tropical paradise, life was peaceful and Anglo churches flourished. Everything changed in the year 1980 when President Jimmy Carter and Fidel Castro had a show down. The US Government gladly
received many professional Cubans who had fled Cuba to escape the corruptions of communism. Carter puffed up his chest and said, “See how much better America is than Cuba!” Castro called Carter’s bluff and retorted, “If you want to receive my people, let me give you some more.” So, on April 15, 1980, Castro emptied his prisons and insane asylums, put 125,000 Cubans on boats and shipped them to Miami.
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Miami suddenly awoke from her slumber with hungry Latinos looking for work. Most found honest jobs while others found their way into shady business of drug trafficking. At that time cocaine was king and Miami was the pathway into North America. Colombians and Cubans began to fight for control of the drug market and Miami was their battleground. Almost overnight, Miami became the most violent city in the United States – not the ideal place to raise a family. Meanwhile a new Miami was raised up from the laundering of drug money in skyscrapers and high-rises.

Tensions continued to rise until the tempest clouds could be seen from Biscayne Bay. This was no a metaphorical storm; this was the infamous Hurricane Andrew of 1992 that decimated much of Miami. The Anglos that lost their homes had had enough with all the Español and violence. So thousands packed their bags and moved North, telling the last American to bring the flag with him on the way out. And again the city changed overnight.

Since Hurricane Andrew, Miami has become the Capitol of Latin America. It is the only city in North America that is controlled from top to bottom by Latinos. It is a young city with an undetermined future. There is no question that it is the most strategic city for reaching the future generations of Latinos in all the Americas. And this young city is ripe for the gospel of Jesus Christ!

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