Dalton preaching centers model openness to giving, receiving the Gospel


Georgia Baptist Mission Board state missionary Moses Valdes leads training for Dalton-area preachers at Iglesia Bautista "Nueva Vida" in Dalton Jan. 13-15. ERNESTO MENDEZ/Special

An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled Pastor Ernesto Mendez's name. 

DALTON — A model for planting multiple churches throughout the Dalton area, spurred by face-to-face witnessing, is bringing results.

An Index story last fall outlined the plan as given by Pastor Ernesto Mendez of Iglesia Bautista “Nueva Vida” in Dalton. In it, small groups he calls “preaching centers” meet in and around the city. Subsequently, they essentially serve as incubators for burgeoning churches.

Preachers leading the centers are typically new to the role and members of Mendez’s church. As such, a vital part of the program comes through their consistent training and mentoring in leading a church. The most recent example of that came Jan. 13-15 under the leadership of Moses Valdes, a Georgia Baptist Mission Board state missionary in Intercultural Church Planting and Missions Ministry.

Real-world training for preachers and attendees

Preaching Center leaders look over their materials during a training session last month. ERNESTO MENDEZ/Special

As preachers continue in their training, so do preaching center attendees in what it means to follow Christ. In particular, they take part in prayer walks as well as door-to-door witnessing.

“After their first local evangelistic mission trip, the Bethel Preaching Center reported 12 people receiving Jesus as their Savior,” testified Mendez. “Maranatha Preaching Center has their local mission trip the last two weekends of February, as they also do walking prayers and door-to-door evangelism. In addition, they will also have a celebration service at Welcome Hill Baptist Church in Dalton, which is very close to where Maranatha meets.”

In the center Ernesto Mendez, wearing a tie, leads a prayer for those attending a training session Jan. 13-15 at Iglesia Bautista "Nueva Vida" in Dalton. Also pictured, in blue shirt, is Moses Valdes, a Georgia Baptist Mission Board state missionary in Intercultural Church Planting and Missions who led the training. ERNESTO MENDEZ/Special

Manuel Ochoa, preacher for the Bethel Preaching Center, reported 12 decisions for Christ after a recent evangelistic effort in Dalton. Preaching Center attendees currently meet in the home of assistant preacher Manuel Villejas. The Villejas family is donating an acre of property for a mobile unit that will soon become the home for the preaching center. ERNESTO MENDEZ/Special

Seven months, seven evangelistic outreaches

Currently, seven preaching centers exist around Dalton – Bethel, Maranatha, Emanuel, Shalom, Betsaida, Betesda, and Peniel. Bethel’s local evangelistic mission trip marked the first for the preaching centers, with the others holding their own each month. Peniel’s, slated for July, marks the final local mission trip of walking prayers and door-to-door witnessing.

The goal, said Mendez, is for 27 to 47 decisions for Christ through the efforts at each preaching center.

“Each preaching center covers three areas [of the city] for evangelism,” he said. “People have responded pretty well.”

Dalton, discipleship, evangelism, preaching, training