Jorge Cotto understands the importance of having a Barnabas in ministry.
When he was called to minister Central Christian Church in Coral Gables, Fla., he said that he didn’t have a coach. “This is something that I did not experience, but is it extremely relevant to the person who is trying to plant a church for the first time,” said Cotto. “Every day the pastor has a different challenge. When you have a person to talk to about those challenges you face every day, it makes a lot of difference,” he said.
A Barnabas typically is an experienced new church planter who works within New Church Ministry’s coaching program. He or she walks alongside a new church planter, bringing love, compassion, support and understanding to the planter during the early stages of their ministry.
While Cotto was not a new church planter, he was fresh out of seminary and lacking experience when he was called to be a church pastor. “When Central called me, they said that the church wasn’t doing well and they were thinking about closing their doors,” said Cotto. “But they wanted to revive the church and give it another try,” he said. According to Cotto, Central was an established church that was founded 80 years ago, and as the demographics in the neighborhood changed, it had become an Anglo congregation surrounded by a Hispanic community. The congregation had heard that Cotto had previous experience as a youth minister at a Hispanic church. “I knew the Hispanic culture in South Florida and I was bilingual,” he said. So they called him and shared the vision with him. He willingly accepted the challenge. The church is now thriving with two worship services – one in English and one in Spanish. However, Cotto admits as a first time pastor he did make a few mistakes along the way.
Cotto now shares with other ministers his wealth of experience as a pastor in his role as a Barnabas. For about seven months, he has walked alongside three Disciples new church planters. And, because of his experience without a Barnabas, he knows the importance of having a coach, a mentor or someone who is there for you. He said, “It is a blessing to do that for other ministers. What I am doing is trying to respond to their needs.”
As a Barnabas, Cotto talks to the ministers he is assigned to two or three times a month. He even makes it a point to visit them, so that he can get a better understanding of their ministry. “I have visited two of the ministers and spent time with them, their church leaders and families,” he said. “I have plans to visit the third planter soon.”
“I walk with them, listen to them and their needs,” Cotto continued. “I make recommendations to them, and I pray with them. We cover many areas including preaching, conflicts in the church and how to handle them. The main idea is to respond to needs of each minister. That is one of the great blessings of the Barnabas, that we can help provide the necessary tools to those ministers who are in the first stage of new church planting.”
Source: New Church Ministry