Bible School
In 2017, I did a three part series on lessons gleaned from a trip to Brazil, including one on small groups and another on church leadership. This post was part two, where I talked about an amazing church I visited, designed from the ground up for ministry. It's a perfect complement to the Unleashed class we're promoting this month...

A center of influence church front

In some ways, evangelism is becoming more difficult. People are gradually becoming more secular, more alienated, more resistant. Traditional ways of reaching people are not working as well. Therefore, new methods must be explored. Or old methods, perhaps.

The classic book, Ministry of Healing, on page 143, contains this well known quote:

Christ's method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Savior mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, "Follow Me."

Several points stand out. First, we must develop ways to interact with the people in our community and build relationships. Barricading our ministry solely within the security of the church is not an option. Second, to unlock hearts, we must identify real problems, and offer real solutions. There's power in genuine service. And third, our witnessing will be most effective, when we share truth with those whose confidence we have already won. Finally, it seems clear that this approach to witnessing is the only method that will give true success.

“Evangelism is becoming more difficult. New methods of reaching people must be explored. Or old methods, perhaps.”

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During my trip to Brazil, I had the chance to see one of the most amazing churches I have ever visited. It's located on a busy road immediately between the city's port and the downtown area ensuring thousands of cars drive by every day. Above you can see a picture of the front of the building.

Rather than looking like a traditional church, it features a center for classes on healthy living on the right side, and on the left a vegetarian restaurant. Farther down there's a small health food store as well. The center entryway opens to a park-like courtyard area that's generally open to the community. Here are a few more pictures.

In addition to this room for cooking classes there are two other classrooms.

The restaurant serves delicious food!

The health food store was converted from an old garage.

Notice the various stations around the courtyard. Each has a small sign promoting one of the eight laws of health.

Also off the courtyard, there is a beautiful sanctuary where the church members meet. There are also additional classrooms for the various children's divisions.

The community classrooms are busy throughout the week, with cooking schools, exercise classes, courses on English, guitar, various crafts, and whatever else members or friends of the church feel qualified to teach. Whenever a new class is offered, registration fills up in hours. This, combined with a steady flow of customers at the health food store and restaurant, ensures the church has ample relationships with people in the community.

These people are then invited to special events and programs in the church. Because the church members have followed the basic steps of rubbing shoulders with them, showing a desire and willingness to help them enjoy a better, more healthful life, serving them in practical ways, and over time won their confidence, these people are often open and receptive to spiritual truth.

Since their launch 18 months ago, the church has nearly tripled in size from about 70 members to more than 200.

While not every church can replicate the exact implementation of Christ's method that this church has, we can all work towards pursuing the basic principles of Christ's method. Hopefully, this brief report will help inspire us to move in that direction!


How can we do more to build bridges with our communities through ministering to people's needs? How important is it that our churches be centers of influence in our communities?

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Posted by Dan Vis on 02/08/23 - Coach
Seeing this certainly inspired me Jenalyn! I know you are doing something similar. All the best in your efforts...
Posted by Jenalyn Garcia on 02/06/23
Really inspiring! Praying for the Holy Spirit to work mightily in UCI Pasig. Christ’s Method.
Posted by Dan Vis on 01/23/23 - Coach
Yes, most of us are going to start smaller for sure Dianne. This was an amazingly ambitious project! But I think it does highlight the possibilities of what our ministries can grow into...
Posted by Dianne Knudson on 01/23/23
We have been praying for ways to meet people in our community. This article is very inspiring, but we’re looking to do something on a much smaller scale 😁
Posted by Dan Vis on 05/24/21 - Coach
Yes, definitely. And you are an awesome testament to that Terri, with all the programs you and the community services team are involved with. Impressive. I think it also takes a clear strategy for how to move people from initial contact in our service ministries along the bridge toward stronger engagement and eventual church membership--like this church in Brazil did exceptionally well.

That's right at the heart of what we'll be covering in our Unleashed course starting June 6 (enrollment closes before that). Hope you consider signing up for that! Nice thing about starting with unleashing just one ministry, is it takes a smaller team. But if successful, it becomes easier to get more of the church involved...
Posted by Terri Krovoza on 05/24/21
I’ve always felt that this is the only way a church can grow is when we are meeting needs in our community and forming relationships. But much prayer is needed to get a whole church on the same page.
Posted by Dan Vis on 05/24/21 - Coach
Yes, I agree Iris, that this could work here in North America also. But it definitely takes some big vision and leadership to bring a big project like this together. Fortunately, there are lot's of ways we can do the same kinds of things on a smaller scale in the various ministries of the church. And that's actually a great place to start this kind of process. Thanks for your post!

Ha! My point above exactly Valerie, about the need for vision and leadership to bring something like this into reality. I really enjoyed meeting the pastor behind this church plant. A very godly man, with a strong vision for this, who had studied this model in extensive detail, and had pressed through countless obstacles to make it happen. It's easy to see it's potential once it is completed, but another thing entirely to conceive something like this just in the quietness of prayer and study. And then step by step, see it come into existence! I really enjoyed visiting with him...
Posted by Valerie Wise Burrell on 05/24/21 - Coach
This is an ideal example of ministry. It shows how God will bless us when there is a clear vision. As I read about this ministry in Brazil, I realized that when there is faith, a vision, and willingness to obey the Holy Spirit's leading, there are no barriers to what can be accomplished.
Posted by Iris Errar on 05/24/21
The idea of centers of influence seems very attractive and interesting. It really emphasizes the Master’s method. Winning souls by compelling them through friendship and meeting their basic needs. God be praised. I am sure that we could begin to utilize this method right here in North America. Blessings to you.
Posted by Dan Vis on 10/02/19 - Coach
That's exciting Ruth! I pray God gives you special wisdom to find ways to reach your community, and just as important, to involve your church family. For more ideas, be sure to take the Unleashed class. That gives a whole framework for building out these kinds of ministries. Keep us posted!

Oh, and if you have Lab access, post a prayer request in the Prayer Chapel. This is the kind of ministry-focused request I love to see our members praying for!
Posted by Ruth Mea Paun on 10/01/19
Reading this story gives me some idea on what to do to start a center of influence in my community.
I am very excited.
Iam a gratuate of LIGHT (Lay Institute for Global Health Training) as a Medical Missionary and also participated in NEWSTART training by Weimar Institute of Lifestyle Center.
I am currently the Health Ministries Leader in my local church.
My church has run two Health Expo for the church members and the community last year and this year. We also fed and clothed kids on the street twice last year and this year.
Reading your story on this Center of Influence in Brazil has really motivated me to seriously work with my church leaders to make our church a model for a Center of Influence.
I am also planing to start a ministry to run this center of Influence in the same arrangement as this Brazil model if my church does not support the Idea.
I need the prayers of the FAST families.

Posted by Dan Vis on 09/25/19 - Coach
Sounds exciting Cathy! If you can, take our Unleashed class. It will give you even more ideas. If you can find ways to build stronger relationships with these individuals you will be able to do far more for them than just provide a meal. It's a difficult group to connect with in some ways, but seeing a life rescued from such a situation would be so very rewarding!
Posted by Cathy Albert on 09/25/19
Our church is planning to do something for the community and we decided to open it up to feed homeless people Starting once or twice a month...reading the article gave me some ideas...please pray for our church as we’re planning to embark this service in our community.
Posted by Dan Vis on 09/24/19 - Coach
Gotta love that autocorrect on our phone sometimes! :)

Yes Emmanuel, this memo can be viewed at anytime. Lab members have an index of all the articles, and can search by content, but as long as you have the link you can read it. :)

As for the Discipleship Pack, it is available in our Online Store, but shipping might make that cost prohibitive to Africa. The other option is to see if you church might be interested in becoming a training team, which would give every member access to the Lab.

In the past we've also had sponsorships, but I don't have any available right at the moment. If one comes up I'll make a note to get in touch with you...
Posted by Emmanuel Ajiroghene on 09/24/19
So sorry, my phone gave a different message from the one I typed.

This is amazing. If only we commit our time and energy is doing the right things, we will get things right. I hope I can assess this memo anytime?

Please sir, is there any way I can purchase your Discipleship Training packs without going through the online monthly subscription which at the moment I can't sustain? My inability to lay hands on them and the copy right on the one I have has affected me a lot. I have not been able to Kickstart the process.
Posted by Dan Vis on 09/23/19 - Coach
It was pretty amazing to see Emmanuel, and the testimony of how it all came together when there wasn't really a lot of money, is pretty amazing too! I didn't quite get your question at the end. :)

Absolutely, Clara. Our children are precious, and we need to make sure we have ministries in place for them as well. Actually, in my last church our Adventurers club was a super effective way of reaching out to our community, so sometimes we can do both at the same time!

Yep! You're right Carole. If we want to reach people we have to think more about what interests them. :)
Posted by Carole Bliss on 09/23/19
Offering classes on topics that interest most people, such as How to handle stress, How to live longer, by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and positive attitudes.
Gear things to fit the type of community
Posted by Clara Koen on 09/23/19
I am pleased to know that while there is an abundance of outreach, you mentioned that there were places specifically set for “children’s division “.   It’s not about replacing SS structures and just having “outreach “. We need to feed our families too and to make sure that they are challenged to choose to take up the “banner” too. Thank you for your report on this God’s blessings to all.
Posted by Emmanuel Ajiroghene on 09/23/19
This is amazing. If only we commit time and energy is doing the right things, we will get things right. I hope I can assess this memo anything?
Posted by Dan Vis on 09/19/18 - Coach
You are right Barbara, that the more important key is having the right focus! But a great facility can help. Perhaps some kind of small community outreach center in town that could double as a location for a church plant. See what happens, and things may just grow!

Great timing then, Carlota! Hope it sparks some thoughts...

My pleasure, Carla! It really was a pretty impressive place conceptually. Great pastor leading there as well--very godly, and determined to follow the counsels...

You are very welcome David! Glad you found this inspiring. :) And thanks for sharing about Unleashed. Be sure to point them to the website! :)

Sounds exciting Tyler. If you ever need a guest speaker I could probably be persuaded to come visit you in Hawaii! :) It's already getting cold here in ND. Expecting a freeze over the next couple days. And then it just gets colder from there...
Posted by Tyler Crouch on 09/19/18
My wife, Tracey and I would like to open a center of influence like this in Honolulu, HI and also an Outpost for a reconditioning center, school of the prophets, agriculture also with tiny homes to offer for the homeless population.
Posted by David J Grabe on 09/18/18 - Coach
Greetings all my Fast Friends in our Lovely Saviour's Name!

Wow, Pastor Dan! What an INNOVATIVE-yet Unassuming church plant that is literally thriving by attracting people from all walks of life by-as you have said, "providing intersections of needs & solutions" for many groups of people! I have shared the initial article "Valentines" from the "Unleashed" Series just begun this month, at our church last Sabbath, and will follow up this week with "Mousetrap" segment.

The pictures are such a big help in seeing how a church can become what the Lord our God seeks us all to become in the world:
"...a word in season to him that is weary" Isaiah 50:4The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.
" house of prayer for all people." Isaiah 56:7Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.
"...all things to all men, that (we)might by all means save some." I Corinthians 9:22To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
"...will very gladly spend and be spent for the (souls of men);even though the more abundantly we love, the less we are loved." II Corinthians 12:15And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.
"withholding not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of our hand to do it." Proverbs 3:27Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.

And most of all, following our Lovely Saviour's example:
"How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost, and with power, Who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil, for God was with Him." Acts 10:38How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
And I believe He will be with each one of us-with His church, "which is His body, the fulness of Him that fills all in all." Ephesians 1:22,23And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, . . . Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

Thank you again, Pastor Dan & everyone, for your insightful thoughts!
You have given me MUCH to think about, SHARE, & Plan for!

I Thessalonians 2:19,20For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? . . . For ye are our glory and joy.

Posted by Carla Phillips on 09/18/18
A lovely church, very smart ideas with the restaurant and cooking and exercise classes. The pictures were great , thank you for sharing .
Posted by Carlota Belmo on 09/18/18
I love this idea, especially since we’re in the building stage of our church, it’s in the right location and community. I will share this with my group.
Posted by Carole Bliss on 09/17/18
Our church is surrounded by our Hospital and down the street, is one of our academies.
Seeing what this church in Brazil is doing, makes me want to explore how our church can open up our doors for more activities to interest people in the community.
Thank-you for this message and photos.

Posted by Barbara Davis on 09/17/18
This has really gotten the ideas flowing. Our church does infrequent one-time activities. I am looking forward to sharing the things we are learning with the church and see what changes. Exciting possibilities! Our church is on the outskirts of town. But having the right focus is probably the greater need. Some have been talking about looking for a new location, or a new church plant. This might be the answer.

Especially appreciate your observation Laurie. The things that really work seem to be patterned after the sanctuary.
Posted by Dan Vis on 09/17/18 - Coach
Actually, that thought crossed my mind too, Laurie. Outer court, holy place, most holy place. :)
Posted by Laurie Wissink on 09/17/18 - Coach
Yes. This 'model' is a great example to use with the 'unleashed' class and even reminds me a little of the "Moral Machinery" book.
Posted by Dan Vis on 09/17/18 - Coach
That was exactly my impression Laurie. Even the whole design of the facility resembled a bridge: the outer facing ministries/services (restaurant, healthfood store, education center), then the courtyard where people can relax, rub shoulders, and mingle together, and then finally the innermost sanctuary, where people can join in the worship service. Each section, a step toward God!

I think that should be the idea behind all our ministries--leading people one step at a time toward God...
Posted by Laurie Wissink on 09/17/18 - Coach
What an inspiring group of people, all united on ministry, using their individual talents, to unitedly reach out to their community and its needs!
Posted by Colleen Morrison on 09/17/18
Wow, i love this idea!
Posted by Bontle on 09/17/18
Very inspiring
Posted by Arlene Webb on 09/16/17
I was very impressed with the church arrangement for outreach. We built our new church out of town and it has drastically reduced the number of people who come to our Dorcas for clothing. We wish that had been taken into consideration before choosing a new site.
Posted by Dan Vis on 08/24/17 - Coach
It was quite an inspiration to me also Blessing. All the best as you look for ways to implement ideas from this church in yours!
Posted by Blessing on 08/23/17
Quite innovative and inspiring. Wish we can have such within my local area for effective ministry.I pray God will help us discover such practical ways within my locality to reach out with the truth. Well done Dan.

From Blessing
Posted by Dan Vis on 08/22/17 - Coach
Wow, what a great bunch of comments. So glad so many found this post helpful.

I've thought the same thing many times, Jason, that we build beautiful buildings that lay empty and unused most of the time. This model seems much more efficient. And note, the revenue from the restaurant and (low cost) classes covers the extra expense. It's a lot of work for the church members--but they are definitely seeing fruit!

Carole, exciting to hear you will be sharing this. I hope it is an encouragement to those you talk to!!!

Great quote Diane!

I pray this simple report will be a help to you and the leaders in your church Angie!

Great observation Clarris about colors. Many churches are lovely, but in a "museum" kind of way. This place is definitely inviting. I can see myself easily stopping in to get out of the rush of the city enjoy the quiet in the courtyard area for a short lunch break. Everything was so inviting...

To all the rest I didn't reply to directly, so happy this post was a blessing. It was definitely a great encouragement to me personally...
Posted by Kathy Rosenberger on 08/22/17 - Coach
Thanks Dan. Once again you have helped give a clearer view. I see that instead of teaching health at the local drop in center, I need to start by doing the cooking for them. Ministering to needs opens the door of oportunity to share and teach.
Posted by Clarris Magadza on 08/21/17
Wow, this is such a beautiful centre of influence. I love the bright colours. It just occurred to me that most of our churches are very plain on the outside and have nothing that would lead a passerby to say "hey, I must check out this place"
Posted by Nora on 08/21/17
Thanx Dan for sharing this wonderful stories and pictures. This is God's
Blue Print that we should follow to hasten Christ coming.
Posted by Angie Leimena on 08/21/17
Thank you Dan. A very good idea to witness in Jesus way. I am hoping to send your report to my church pastor and church members. In a small suburb in Sydney at the moment we are trying to do church planting by providing health & family issues seminars once a month, started in May will stop in September. Attendance not as hope for. But your report sounds wonderful, providing ideas. Thank you again. May GOD help all of us to be HIS tool.
Posted by Greg Carey on 08/21/17
A wonderful and encouraging example for us all.
Let us press on.
Posted by Qing Ling on 08/21/17 - Coach
Amen! Great to see a church impacting their LOCAL community. Definitely an inspiration. May God multiply centres of influence like this one.
Posted by Diane Castanon on 08/21/17 - Coach
This is wonderful! Thank you for sharing photos to hit this home! The health of individuals are failing, and they don't know how to change. "Visit the sick and suffering, and show a kindly interest in them. If possible, do something to make them more comfortable. Through this means you can reach their hearts, and speak a word for Christ." (9T pg 36). What is happening in Brazil is following Christ's model.
Posted by Armani Tavares on 08/21/17
Amazing! Thanks for sharing these! I have lately become aware of a dire need of transformation in what I'm seeing in the church's around me and my area and it's prompted me to search for what God's Church should really be. This right here is simply it.
Posted by Carole Bliss on 08/21/17
I have taken notes, and will share this with our church. What a wonderful way to share. Starting with the first step, and progressing on to the next.
Someone had to have prayed much, and Jesus showed them the way.
Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jason Diehl on 08/21/17
Sounds like an amazing church. Too many times I visit beautiful churches in America that are closed 6 days a week. They have class rooms but they are only used for Sabbath morning Sabbath School. I've even seen one church build a new church, and they ended up farther from town with a nice church that is still closed most of the time. I'd love to see more churches like this, built as centers of influence or community centers first and foremost. A church where you can walk in and see it's focus is built around reaching out to the community 6 days a week, and while the sanctuary shouldn't be an after thought, it's also only used half a day once a week.
Posted by Sarita Mayhawk on 08/21/17
What a wonderful model of CHRIST 'S methods for ministry!!!
Posted by Valerie Wise Burrell on 08/21/17 - Coach
This is very encouraging. As God directs us, my small worship group will be talking our direction, purpose and mission this Sabbath. Please pray for us as it is my vision to be a light in my neighborhood and beyond!
Posted by Jacqueline on 08/21/17
It seems wonderful to have it in one location. A learning and teaching a practical place where people are the difference in the way we eat and ministering to the needs of the community.
Posted by Dan Vis on 08/21/17 - Coach
Danetta, there are several people trying to build churches like this. The pastor who started this is Marcello Coelho and he's done a great job researching out the basic principles and testing what works best. I don't know if he worked with Jesse Zwiker or not.
Posted by Danetta on 08/21/17
I think I heard of these through Jesse Zwiker who helps set up these centres of influence :) Praise God for the encouraging happenings in South America!

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