My good friend Osvaldo Carnival is pastor of Cathedral of Faith church in Buenos Aires. This incredible man of God—along with his wife, Alejandra who is an amazing woman of God—had a vision to start a church in Argentina, which began with a mere ten members. Their passion for evangelism coupled with incredible leadership have now grown this church from ten to tens of thousands, with multiple campuses thanks to their faith and willingness to innovate and extend their ministries.
In addition to pastoring, Osvaldo is on the board of “Argentina Oramos Por Vos” (“We Pray for Argentina”), an organization that includes more than 3,000 pastors from around the country. He has innovated ministry in Argentina through incredible preaching, family and small group ministries, and by using technology such as a TV Show produced by CBN International broadcasting as well as a radio show. Understanding Argentina is key to knowing how we can help resource and grow the Church there. So I’ve invited Osvaldo to share with us about this country and context he has been ministering in.
Me: What are some of the unique ways you have culturally contextualized how you engage Argentinian children and families with the Bible?
Osvaldo: We have a ministry called “Catedral Kids” that helps us engage children and families with the Bible. Our goal is for young people to know God in an experiential way understanding that they are a reflection of God’s love for humankind. We have created a lot of different programs such as Biblical Olympics, plays, professional teacher preparation, Kids Camp, Games Day, dance, choir, Kids Sleepover, Congress for Leaders Teachers and Children.
Argentina is a very relational culture. Any time we can get people in the door, it is a win for us. The most effective method for reaching Argentinians is through face-to-face interactions. People love to gather in social settings, so getting them to come to church or our hosting events and environments where we can preach and teach are some of our most effective evangelical opportunities. Media and technology are very popular, so it is also to our advantage to leverage methods that use the TV, radio and the Internet.
Me: How does your church or ministry disciple new believers?
Osvaldo: We have structured our discipleship model around small groups. Small groups meet once a week to read the Bible and to pray. This allows us to keep the relationship going while training and discipleship happens recurrently. When we began to implement the small group model—that is when we really began to see growth happen.
Me: What do you want Western churches to know or understand about your culture?
Osvaldo: We are very open to Western culture. From the beginning of time we have been influenced by the West. Whatever you do, we do—we are very influenced by the Western culture. That is both good and bad. To the negative, I have seen some churches be influenced by the Westerner’s view of success. Sometimes that reveals itself in moving away from the biblical model and trying to achieve numbers rather than changing lives. We were not called to be successful; we were called to be faithful.
Me: What are the most helpful things Western churches or organizations can do to come alongside and help you or others further the Gospel in your area?
Osvaldo: Our area of greatest need is in our youth programs. We need training and to be supplied with tools to reach young people. In light of our culture and how much we are influenced by the Western way of doing things, I believe the media is going to be the most important tool to help bring them to Jesus.
Most of the Argentina Church is a Church from the first generation. We need strategies in place to transfer the legacy of faith on to the next generation. That’s why we need to work so hard to focus on reaching, raising up and discipling the next generation of children and youth to carry on the Church.