Church Planting Movements: A case study from India

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I met with Rodrick Gilbert this week. He leads a movement of over 20,000 churches and 200,000 people in northern India.

You can't believe everything you hear about India, or any field where there are reports of exponential growth, but Rod checks out. He's the real deal.

That's why I did most of the listening. Here was someone I could learn from. Here are seven things Rod taught me.

  1. A work of God. The movement began in 1990. Leading up to that time Rodrick was deeply aware of his lack of fruit in making disciples and planting churches. God led him to an older pastor who mentored him in waiting on God. The birth of the movement was a byproduct of deeper intimacy and surrender.
  2. Multiplying small groups and simple churches. Rodrick saw the need to do evangelism in the slums that led to the formation of discipleship groups and simple churches led by lay people. He learned to mobilise new believers for ministry.
  3. Missionary band. Rodrick has 98 paid workers ($150 per month). Everyone else in the movement is a local volunteer. His team function as a mobile missionary band rather than settled local pastors. Small groups and local churches are led by lay people. The worker move among them opening up new locations and training the volunteers.
  4. Simple methods. They use simple methods for evangelism, making disciples and forming churches. For instance, for making disciples, Rodrick has adapted George Patterson's Seven Commands of Christ.
  5. Life-long learner. Rodrick is willing to learn from anyone. He's a keen student of Church Planting Movement principles. He has a variety of different people who speak into his development as a leader and into the development of the movement. Curtis Sergeant of the IMB has been a mentor and sounding board in applying CPM principles.
  6. Mobilization. Just 98 workers are responsible to mobilise 200,000 local believers to reach their communities. This movement would not be growing unless this was a high value. Ordinary people take the gospel to their relational worlds. New regions are reached when local believers take the gospel to their relatives in unreached villages.
  7. Beginning with the end in mind. Rodrick sees 1.1 billion people, in 4,365 people groups, living in 600,000 villages. The endvision is what drives him and his movement. They begin with the end in mind and then work back to their action plans. They are agitated by the lostness of India.

If you're in Melbourne Australia you can hear Rodrick speak this week at the Crossway missions conference. I'll post links to the podcasts when they are available.