Facing its final sunday as a church, a small Pentecostal congregation e-mailed Norberto Saracco on a Wednesday in 2007 asking for prayer. They would lose their Buenos Aires property unless the church paid an impossible US$25,000—nearly a year's worth of offerings—to resolve a long-standing property lawsuit.

Saracco, co-leader of the Council of Pastors in Argentina's capital, sent up a prayer—and sent out an e-mail saying, "We cannot afford for $25,000 to let a church close in Buenos Aires." Two days later, pastors from an array of denominations had donated the money.

"When we say there is only one church in Buenos Aires, these are the consequences," explains Saracco. "If we want a strong church in Buenos Aires, every local church has to be strong."

This is just one of the fruits of perhaps the most remarkable experiment in citywide church unity today.

A Simple Idea

Argentina's unity movement is based on a simple biblical concept.

"Each time the New Testament speaks of the church in a city such as Ephesus, it is always singular, never plural," says Carlos Mraida, pastor of Del Centro First Baptist Church. "Yet when the New Testament speaks of leadership in a city, it is always plural. The church is singular, but leadership is plural."

"When we go to the U.S., we cannot understand the division of the church," says Saracco, pastor of Good News Church. "You can have one pastor on one [street] corner and another on another corner, and they don't know each other. Here we are friends."

More than friendship is at stake. Mraida estimates that while 90 percent of Buenos Aires churches have grown during his 24 years as a pastor, the city outside the church walls is significantly worse off by almost every spiritual and secular ...

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June 2010

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