In 1992, the India Gospel League had a dream to start 1,000 churches by the year 2000. Instead, they launched 20,000 by that time. As of today, IGL has trained and equipped more than 85,000 church planters to reach villages that have never before heard the gospel. Impressive!
IGL Director, Samuel Stephens, speaks of the kairos moment where he focused on what God was doing, rather than doing more of what IGL had done in the past. It is so fascinating to consider his insights:
The fastest way to kill a sweeping movement is to try to control it. That’s one reason India Gospel League doesn’t have administrative control over our church planters, and we don’t want to. They aren’t “ours” to begin with! If we were to begin calling the shots, paying the salaries, and installing the leaders, I believe we would take this kairos moment opportunity and box it into human parameters.
When flying a kite, too much control on the string and the kite never soars, too little control and the kite crashes. The skill comes in knowing how much string to let out to optimize the flight of the kite. Notice that Samuel has focused on what to control and what not to control as he joins God in this incredible movement:
Now, of course I’m not against organization. As you get to know India Gospel League, you’ll see aspects of our ministry (medical outreach, children’s sponsorships, training programs, economic development initiatives, etc.) that are highly organized. And most certainly our attempts at serving and equipping local leaders are well organized. But when it comes to the church planting itself—the gospel movement now transforming villages across South Asia—we don’t want to get in the way of what God is doing. We want to join Him in His work! This approach leads to an important question then, which is constantly on my heart and in my prayers. How do you or I know when God is doing something new?1
At great criticism IGL ditched the Christian School that they ran in the past, because they believed that God was calling them to do something different that would have greater impact for the kingdom. If IGL did what they had always done, they would still have a small Christian School, which isn’t a bad thing, not just the thing that IGL was called to do by God. So IGL began the process re-equipping their leaders to prepare for what they believed God was doing in India. The results are impressive!
Currently more than two hundred training meetings are occurring across South Asia each month. That’s 2,400 per year! And, at this point in time, more than 6,000 pastors look to Pastor Benny as their teacher and mentor while tens of thousands of lay people are participating in our local leadership and discipleship programs.2
IGL realized that they could not plant more churches unless they equipped more pastors. IGL focused their vision, like a laser, on the greatest need, the training and equipping of those who shepherd God’s people, bringing the gospel to those who have never heard. It is what Jesus said in Matthew 9:36–38 (NIV)
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
These workers need training, and IGL is determined to provide the best tools and resources for those God calls in answer to believing prayer.
Why is it that para-church organizations like IGL see the strategic nature of equipping the saints to do the work of ministry, making fishers of men, when the average church seems to be content with caring for believers, being keepers of the aquarium?
What do you think? Is it possible that God could do in the US, what He is doing in India?