Church Planting Movement in India

Indian ministry leader Rodrick Gilbert and co-workers have recently seen some 4900 house churches planted with new believers. For coaching, e-mail [email protected].

Gilbert’s observations, as recorded by Galen Currah:

1.      Church Planters’ Guidelines

F     Church planting teams consist of one "master trainer" and six trainees. None of these is allowed to pastor churches. Thus their movement consists of 85 staff members and 4900 volunteers. A team is assigned to a region with several hundred villages until reproducible congregations have been planted.

F     A new cell is not called a church until it has been "released" to unpaid, local leaders.

F     To avoid the figure-inflating practice of calling every believing household a church, they call a church only a group having folks from at least four households, including that of the convener or shepherd. Since there are four kinds of "soil" in Jesus’ parable, we do not expect every member of a household or of a village to become a believer.

F     Church planters are responsible for villages within a day's travel of their home town. They do not start a church in their own town, for they would need to spend too much time giving pastoral care. They are to give all their time to church planting.

F     When there are 25 to 30 new flocks in a worker's area, the worker becomes a visiting trainer and the new church leaders carry on the church planting work in their vicinity.

2.      Funding

F     It means much less trouble never to start paying new workers than to stop. The latter creates enemies. It is often formerly-paid pastors who call the police to stop our evangelistic efforts. Start new works with new believers rather than with older believers who may need financial help.

F     To withdraw funds from a good worker may cause him to "crash and die". Rather, use funds to increase a good worker's potential. If a new workers is currently a supported church leader shifting to CP work, then try to maintain their current support level.

3.      Preparing and Anointing New Workers

F     One can impart to others only what one has himself. Thus, non-church planters can hardly impart a church planting gift. And one should avoid trying to confer the Holy Spirit while angry or in sin.

F     Workers pray for anointing only in order to achieve a vision given by God, not for fun and fame. “Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah's spirit, but Elijah could not impart more than he had. So, Elijah told Elisha that if he should see Elijah going into heaven, then the LORD would grant Elisha his request. Elijah performed seven recorded miracles, Elisha 14, counting the resuscitation of the corpse thrown onto his grave.”

F     Young workers are mobilized as well as old. “Young workers can powerfully influence older folks, if humble and clearly anointed by God. Many men's wives are also much younger than they and it is often the wife who comes to faith first. That is important among Hindus where women are often a family’s religious leader. Youth are often more mature ‘"in Christ’ that are older men.”

4.      Regional Gatherings

F     Mass meetings prove encourage Indian believers and seekers, so they hold such using local funding. They remain quite wary of "dollar power".

5.      Evangelism

F     Every new church planted understands that one of its purposes is to reproduce. They have seen instances of as many as eight generations of daughter churches. “When, simple farmers are saved and discover that they now have the power to heal and deliver folks through prayer in Jesus' name, they usually want to learn more and share with others in their households and communities. Often miracle stories attract seekers.”

F     Pastors must shift from a "come to church" mode to a "go start a church" mode.

6.      Overcoming Fears of Growing too Quickly

F     It is a satanic lie to say, as some do, that because of such rapid growth, our movement is "a mile wide and an inch deep." The faster evangelism goes the deeper it gets. The movement in the Book of Acts, increased in faith while growing in numbers.

7.      Helpers from the Outside

F     Workers coming from another region require skill for (a) language learning, (2) cultural understanding, and (3) spiritual authority. It is usually local, insiders who can cry, “Save my people!” who will see the work thrive and grow. Outsiders too often fail to see themselves as a temporary ‘scaffold’ that should come down as soon as the building is up and able to stand.