Living an Encounter with God in Santiago, Chile
By: Samantha and Guillermo Peralta
Lakonn. This word in the Mapudungun dialect of south-central Chile refers to the voluntary surrender of one’s life for another. In the Mapudungun translation of the New Testament, lakonn is used to describe Christ’s sacrifice, and the disciples’ surrender of their lives for Christ.
For Lakonn Church in Santiago, Chile, the word by which they receive their name defines the heart of their mission.
“Sacrifice your life voluntarily in service to others,” said Esteban Pacheco, pastor of Lakkon Church. “Love to the point of giving your life.”
Lakonn Church began when Esteban partnered with his conference and eight other Adventists to start a church community that would be characterized by living in community, discipleship, and contextualized evangelism. The group developed a vision to “Be a community that shows, through its life experiences, the love of God, reaching secular and postmodern people through meaningful experiences that allow them to encounter God.”
Today, this vision shapes each activity of Lakonn Church. From the Sabbath events, which include morning worship services, Sabbath schools, meals and afternoon evangelistic programs, to weekday activities such as cycling, soccer games and hiking—every program is geared to offer secular and postmodern people an opportunity to encounter and develop a relationship with God through the Lakonn community.
However, the most important activity for Lakonn Church is "Lakonn at Home," the church’s small group program. "Lakonn at Home" was formed as a response to the church’s need to return to the vision of living lakonn in community. For two months, the church divided into five groups and met in home-based worship services, rather than gathering in a church building on Sabbaths.
“When we returned to meeting at church for services, there were more of us than before we had done 'Lakkon at Home,'” said Esteban. “It showed that, for us, the experience of discipleship is living in community. We can’t be disciples on our own; we need each other. 'Lakonn at Home' helps people become a community in a comfortable atmosphere, where people can stay, eat lunch after they worship, continue their conversations afterward, and sometimes even share dinner together.”
Now, Lakonn Church meets corporately three Sabbaths a month, and on the remaining Sabbath they enjoy "Lakonn at Home," inviting people to become disciples of Christ in close community with one another.
“The programs just provide opportunities to form relationships,” Esteban said. “But the most important thing is for each member to influence their friends and communities, and disciple one another.”
To other ministry practitioners who are seeking to reach secular and postmodern-minded people with the gospel, Esteban gives two suggestions:
“First, maintain the vision,” he said. “Without it, the church will lose focus and, though it may accomplish many things, it will not meet its objective. You will encounter many criticisms, even from within the Adventist church, including your own colleagues who may disagree with what you’re doing. But maintain the vision and communicate it clearly to the church.”
“The other is to never forget that what you’re doing has to do with the salvation of people, and the experience of those in your community," he said. "Don’t develop activities just so people can join and be baptized; develop a church so healthy that they love in such a way that others can join it too.”
Photos and video courtesy of Lakonn Church.