Discernment and Mapping Pt 3 w/ Heber Ticas

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In this episode, our host Cara Garrity and Heber Ticas, GCI Superintendent of Latin America, discuss how to support discernment and strategic planning for movement toward Healthy Church.


“Know that you, as a pastor and as a leader, have gifts that God has given you. And you’ve got to step into those gifts, and you’ve got to seek the Lord. Lord, where do I want to go? Where are you taking me? Where are you taking us as a group? Who have you surrounded me with to help me go there? God has been gracious in truly giving the pastors and their leaders eyes to be able to see others who can step into ministry. They just were not given an opportunity in the past.” — Heber Ticas


Main Points:

  • In your role as superintendent, how do you equip pastors to lead their teams in discerning a strategic MAP? 02:18
  • What do you look for as indicators that a local team is becoming strategic in their ministry planning? 08:00
  • The last two episodes we heard from Bogota about their practices of discernment, strategic planning, and mapping. What impact have you seen this strategic ministry planning have on healthy church growth? 11:15
  • What words of advice do you have for our local leaders who are moving towards a more discerning and strategic participation in Jesus’ ministry – more focused Healthy Church vision? 20:18


  • Discernment and the Examen – a Church Hack that outlines how to use the practice of the examen for discernment and strategic decisions.
  • Ministry Action Plans – an Equipper article with templates and practical input for developing your ministry action plan (MAP).
  • Team Based – Pastor Led – the GCI ministry framework reference by Heber and Cara during the episode.

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Program Transcript

Discernment and Mapping Pt 3 w/ Heber Ticas

Welcome to the GC Podcast, a podcast to help you develop into the healthiest ministry leader you can be by sharing practical ministry experience.

Cara: Hello, friends, and welcome to this episode of GC Podcast. This podcast is devoted to exploring best ministry practices in the context of Grace Communion International churches.

I am your host Cara Garrity, and now in this first quarter of 2024, we are switching things up a little bit. We are bringing you mini episodes that are focused on the processes and practices of discernment, strategic planning, and ministry action plans.

In our last two episodes, we heard from Pastor Hector and Juanca Barrero in GCI Bogotá. They shared about their experiences with their strategic processes and communication, their use of ministry action plans. And so, today we have Latin American Superintendent, Heber Ticas, with us to share, from his perspective as superintendent, what it means and what it looks like to support and develop this discernment, strategic planning, perspective on healthy church growth and vision throughout the region, particularly, from the perspective of Bogotá since that is who we heard from the past two episodes specifically.

And so, Heber, thank you much for being here and sharing with us. We appreciate your time.

Heber: Hey Cara, thank you for having me. It has been quite a while since I have been on the podcast.

I was wondering, did I do something wrong last time?

[00:01:44] Cara Garrity: We got to share the wealth, but this will be your next test, so do not mess it up.

[00:01:51] Heber Ticas: Yeah, I better get praying right now.

[00:01:53] Cara Garrity: No, I really enjoy having you on the podcast, Heber. I hope that our listeners took as much out of the past two episodes as I did.

I love hearing what God is doing in Bogotá and the way that the leaders and members are just saying yes and amen to participating in what they are discerning he is doing. And so, I am wondering in your role as superintendent, what are some of the ways that you equip pastors like Hector to lead their teams in discerning a strategic ministry action plan for each year?

[00:02:32] Heber Ticas: Cara, that is a good question. In my role as superintendent, and for all of us who are superintendents and regional directors or regional pastors, we’ve got to take up this mantle and put on this hat of consulting. Me, I am not too much of a coach. I do not have the patience for coaching but yes, in my role as superintendent, I’ve got to do a little bit of consulting.

When I engaged this congregation, especially the pastors and a few of their immediate leaders there, they had a good dynamic, and with some consulting, they could truly become a healthier expression of the church. With this congregation or this pastor, it is not too different than with other pastors that I have consulted with, in my role as superintendent. Our Team Based—Pastor Led structure really provides us an ability to have a greater understanding of what it is to lead from a good structure. That is key.

So just as with anything, when you are talking about equipping, it must be two sides, right? If I am consulting, you must have a side that is willing to listen and willing to embrace. And Hector and Paulina, particularly in their leadership, they embraced Team Based—Pastor Led from the beginning. With them doing that, then I can move on and talk about clarity of leadership roles and understanding what that means, a greater understanding of healthy ministry practices, and most importantly, a clarity of a preferred future—where it is that they want to go as a congregation, as a team.

I would start in those areas but also particularly in pastoral leadership as well. And I can get into that a little bit if you want.

[00:04:40] Cara Garrity: Yes, please.

[00:04:42] Heber Ticas: Team Based—Pastor Led gives us this really good structure, right? And we do not want to be pastor centric, like you said earlier, we want to share the wealth. We want to share practice. We want to be team-based and participate with Jesus and really understand that others have gifts as well.

The Holy Spirit has gifted others as much as the Holy Spirit has gifted the pastor. With that understanding, as pastors, we need to lead. And when I say that we need to lead, I am talking about [how] a pastor needs to understand, needs to know the vision, needs to know where we are going as the church.

A pastor needs to be a visionary pastor. When I talk about a visionary pastor, I am talking about that a leader who is a visionary develops and defines a clear picture of the envisioned future for others. You can articulate it and apply it to future thinking in ways that would engage the rest of the team and motivate others.

That is from a pastoral perspective. So now as the pastor is leading, preaching, and equipping, they are doing it with a future in mind. That’s pastoral leadership, a pastor who leads in this way. We will also understand what it means to lead the congregation as a whole, but also lead your immediate team. In our case, in our structure, making sure that you are leading your Avenue champions, that you are equipping them, and that they are doing the same thing, right?

The Apprentice Square really is a useful tool to be able to lead, in this way. And then also understanding what it means to lead strategically. Okay, if there is no preferred future, then there is no way that you can lead strategically. You’ve got to have these things clear in your mind as pastors and especially as senior pastors.

[00:06:42] Cara Garrity: Yes, and that is so good what you have said here, that the starting point really of strategic planning is, where are you and where you are going? You cannot be strategic if you do not know those things. And we heard that in our conversations with Hector and Juanca, that they really appreciate how you spent that time to really go through the Team Based—Pastor Led model so it could really be understood and embraced, so that there is that foundation for by what method are we moving forward, right? We are moving forward together as a team. But then you also supported them to articulate—I love how you say that “clear vision of that preferred future.” Then you can be strategic about where you are going. There is no strategy to wander around in the forest, right? It is the image that I get.

Yes, that is excellent. That is excellent.

[00:07:44] Heber Ticas: Yes. And you are so right. Where are you and where are you going? If you do not have those two things, if you cannot discern that, then there is no math, there is no strategy. You cannot put any legs to anything.

[00:08:00] Cara Garrity: As you are working with lead pastors across your region and local churches, what do you look for as indicators that a local team is starting to become more strategic in their ministry planning and pastoral leadership?

[00:08:19] Heber Ticas: Without a vision, there is no MAP. Without a strategic MAP, the vision is unattainable, right?

Pastors need to know the landscape. They need to know where they are. Discernment is truly key. Once you have discerned that, then it is important for me as a consultant and working with – whether it be my vision pastors or those who I am dedicating more time to in terms of consulting – then I can truly start looking out for those indicators. Are they really catching what we have been talking about? And then, if they caught it, they could articulate it verbally. Then I want to be able to look for indicators in terms of their ministry practices.

See, that is why I am huge on MAPs because on a MAP, you can put your thoughts and your ideas onto paper. And if you do it collectively, as a team, now you can be accountable to each other. But now because it is on the MAP, you can truly start implementing in what you are doing because it is guiding you and it is leading you. One of the first indicators that I am looking for is, have you been able to move from the idea in your mind into a MAP, into something that is written? Okay. That is one thing.

Then, I would be looking for collective clarity of the preferred future in a clear direction—because a MAP will give you direction. The pastor may have clarity. The pastor may know the preferred future, may know where we are going, but does your team, those around you? Do those really helping you in ministry, participating with you in ministry, do they know where you are going? Is it clear for them? So that is one of the first things that I want to see. I want to see that collectively as a team. Okay.

And then, I want to be able to see incremental steps. Are there incremental steps that have been taken, in implementation of the strategy that you put together, towards your preferred future to get there?

So those are some of the indicators that I would really want to see collectively in a team as they plan.

[00:10:43] Cara Garrity: Yes, that is good. And, as I have mentioned a couple of times in our past two episodes this year, we heard from a couple of the leaders in Bogotá about some of the ways they have grown in this discernment and visioning and their strategic planning and use of their MAP.I was excited and impressed about some of the things that I had heard and the way that they have become collectively clear and very vision led, very strategic.

I am wondering for you, as you have collaborated with them a lot more closely, what impact have you seen this strategic kind of ministry planning have on their healthy church growth?

[00:11:31] Heber Ticas: I started doing consulting with this church, and I understood, Cara, and I think we all understand that this is a process. It does not happen overnight. I have been collaborating with this team for a while now. I feel that I’m part of their congregation. I better myself in such a way that I feel like I am part of the church now. But I have seen the impact that I have first seen it has been in their senior leadership one of the things that that I saw in this congregation that they had.

They had folks there who I felt could lead, but I did not see any spaces for them to be able to lead. As I started doing some consulting with the pastor, with Hector and Paulina—because they are a team; they are a dynamic team. Hector’s the preacher there, and he brings a lot of good assets to ministry. You can hear it in his voice, right?

But Paulina is really a strategic leader there. And she does it in a quiet way, but she is so spirit led. And she has just got this discernment about allowing the spirit to lead.

One of the first things that I started talking about was truly about valuing who God has placed around and creating spaces for them. And I said, do you know what? One of our greatest challenges is really developing other leaders. And the reason that is a challenge for us is because as pastors, we do not even know that we are hogging up all ministry. And in the process, sometimes we just get frustrated, and we get burned.

I started talking about ministry descriptions and how is it that you can engage a leader and make sure that you are clear from a pastoral perspective and that leader is clear on what [they] are being asked to do and really is being empowered, truly going through the 4 Es. Empowering them and creating this space is commissioning them.

Hector had an awakening and he said, “Do you know what? I have never…” Because I started pointing out some names, just throwing out some names of folks that I had engaged in this church from some development that I had done in the first few visits that I did to this church when I took on the role of superintendent. I said, “Hector, we need to truly value development.”

And you know what he said? Something to the effect that, man, I need to repent. Because I have so many leaders here, sometimes they come and go, and I have not really valued them in this way of developing them.

To me, that was impactful. And not only did it impact me individually, but then to Hector I said, look, we were having a vision pastors conference. This was like some three years ago, two years ago, in Mexico City. I invited some vision pastors from Latin America. And I said, Hector, do you think you can do just this little workshop on your journey of valuing development? That man got up there in front of that group, he said, I just repent of not valuing the people around me and creating spaces for them and developing them.

When Hector saw this clearly, I said, this congregation can become an MTC church. This congregation can really become a place where they train, where they recruit, they develop, they launch leaders into some significant ministry. I am starting to see that.

I am starting to see that develop more value of development, creating spaces for others. When I start seeing that, I am like, okay, now this church is now planning, now they are being intentional. And then I see their MAPs, and I see how their team leaders and ministry workers surround it.

Then I say, okay, there are spaces here. In ministry planning, as you plan out your MAPs and as you plan out your year of ministry—the impact that I am seeing in this congregation is that the silos are no longer there, but they are working together as a team, and there are spaces on ramps and even off ramps. Sometimes we need to have off ramps available as well.

Those are some of the things that I have seen, but a humble heart, just humility. That is always so key in leadership.

[00:16:31] Cara Garrity: Yeah, and I think you’ve really pulled out something that’s important for us not to miss in the key leadership: that humble heart, that openness to God’s leading and transformation, not just of what we’re doing as leaders of the church, but of who we are and how we’re stewarding that leadership that God has brought us into for that season.

I just think of that amazing transformation that Hector had. Then, after that, it sounds like from the conversation that we had, a lot of the members of his team and then those who can step into new spaces of ministry, just that transformation they were able to experience has been so key and then being able to live out this strategy towards this preferred vision.

And that is really important because that openness and that humble heart to be changed and transformed shapes how we identify and discern a spirit led preferred vision, right? It is not just the mechanics of being strategic. I can strategically rob a bank tomorrow.

That is not necessarily in line with God’s desires for me, right? But if, as leadership, we can do what this team in Bogotá has done and be open to giving up our own ways that we have clung to, to be repentant, to say, God, what are you doing? Show us what you are doing and show us where you are taking us and your preferred vision.

And then we can be strategic. It builds clarity towards there, and it may not be what we have always done. We might have to give up some things, get uncomfortable, try some new things. But that is something that we should not miss. As I hear from you and from folks every time I talk to leaders in Bogotá, I think their willingness to be shaped by God is so critical in their healthy church growth that has been happening.

[00:18:51] Heber Ticas: Yes. Cara, let me align you back. Okay. We are not robbing any banks. Okay.

[00:19:00] Cara Garrity: We are not. I am not going to rob any bank. I am just saying strategy in and of itself can be used for good or evil.

[00:19:08] Heber Ticas: You know what? You said an especially important phrase: stewarding. Stewarding the leadership that God has given us that is truly a good word because, remember here, we are talking about pastors, and on many occasions, we are talking about pastors who have been leading, who have been in ministry for a long time.

And with anything, change is not easy. Change is difficult. And now when you start sharing your pulpit, when you start sharing ministry, and then you start thinking, are they going to do it right? Or they are too young, or they are too old? Or they are too this, or they are too that, right?

At the end of the day, we need to trust that it is his church, right? The story of leadership, it truly is about engaging, and equipping, and developing, and trusting.  And you can have the best strategies in the world, but if there is not a trust factor, there is not a humility factor, there is not a Holy Spirit factor in your heart, in your thinking, in your processes you are going to have some issues.

[00:20:18] Cara Garrity: Amen. As we are coming up on the end of our time today, Heber, I want to ask you what word of advice would you give for our pastors around the world who are moving towards a more discerning and strategic participation in Jesus’s ministry that is more focused on healthy church vision?

[00:20:45] Heber Ticas: Yeah, I know this podcast goes all over our GCI world, and one of the first things  that I want to say is that our structure of Team Based—Pastor Led really speaks to all contexts in diverse ways.

And I would want to say,  understand your local context. Okay. Understand the local context within where God has placed you and from within you’re doing ministry, then know the team that the Lord has surrounded you with. Know the team. Even if you have not identified that team, know the folks that are around you, and ask God to give you clarity, ask the Lord to really give you direction of who, who has the giftings that you need for your local context.

And that requires engagement. Know your team, know the people around you, and then do not be discouraged if you feel you do not have the proverbial horses, per se, to accomplish the preferred future that God has given you. So just always remember that it is his church, that the ministry is participatory.

We are participating with Jesus but even knowing that, know that there’s participation, right? And know that you, as a pastor and as a leader, you have gifts that God has given you, and you’ve got to step into those gifts. All right you’ve got to pause, and you’ve got to seek the Lord. And okay, Lord, where do I want to go? Where are you taking me? Where are you taking us as a group? Okay. Who have you surrounded me with to help me go there?

So do not be discouraged. Be patient. Even like with Bogotá, man, I look at their team right now, and they got a stellar team. I started collaborating with them like pre-pandemic, and I look at their team now and it looks quite different.

God has been gracious in truly giving the pastors and their leaders eyes to be able to see others who can step in to ministry who may be quiet, quietly able to do things, but they are able to do it. They just were not given an opportunity in the past.

[00:23:05] Cara Garrity: Yes, absolutely.

Thank you for those words of wisdom. And I would just ask if you were willing to close us out this episode with the word of prayer over our pastors and our leaders, teams all over GCI, as we continue this journey of participating in Jesus’ ministry by the leading of the Spirit.

[00:23:32] Heber Ticas: Amen. Sure thing. Let us go ahead and pray.

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I am so thankful, Lord, for who we are in you, Christ, and who we are as a collective body, what we call GCI. And Lord, through this conversation, Father, I pray that it may be a blessing to the pastors and leaders who may engage it, Lord.

And Father, I pray that as we think about discernment strategies and ministry action plans, Father God, that they would not burden our hearts, that it would not blow our minds. On the contrary, Lord, that it would be a blessing, that your Holy Spirit would give us that understanding of what participation looks like for us. And yes, in our participation, Lord I believe that these elements of discernment and planning and mapping things and being strategic, are part of what we are being called to do.

Father God, I just pray that as pastors and leaders hear this conversation, that they will not be discouraged because of their immediate context of what they are seeing in their journey, Lord, in their leadership. But I pray, Father, that they may be encouraged, Lord, and that your Holy Spirit would bring clarity to their minds and to their hearts about where they are going and how they are going to get there.

Father God, I pray that this may be a resource for them, Lord. I pray a blessing on all those leaders in those churches that are already there, but we have not even seen them yet as pastors. Sometimes we just do not have this discernment to be able to see. I pray that you give us those eyes to be able to see clearly and discern who you have gifted us with, Lord, to be able to do ministry together.

Lord, I pray this in your name, Jesus. Amen.

[00:25:21] Cara Garrity: Amen. Thank you so much again, Heber. And folks, until next time, keep on living and sharing the gospel.

We want to thank you for listening to this episode of the GC Podcast. We hope you have found value in it to become a healthier leader. We would love to hear from you. If you have a suggestion on a topic, or if there is someone who you think we should interview, email us at info at gci.org. Remember, healthy churches start with healthy leaders. Invest in yourself and your leaders.