Majority world

The kingdom comes to Nepal

iStock_000006443676XSmall.jpg John Barclay shares some great news out of Nepal.

Until recently Nepal was the world’s only Hindu kingdom. The mighty Himalayas and the fact that Nepal was a closed land until the middle of the twentieth century enticed many, but from 1881 to 1925 only 153 Europeans are known to have visited Nepal and none became a resident.

The earliest recorded entry of Christians into Nepal was the visit of a Father Cabral, a Jesuit priest, in 1628.

For two centuries before 1951, Nepal was totally closed to any Christian presence.

From just a single secret Christian residing in Nepal in 1951, the number of Nepali Christians grew to about 40,000 baptized believers by 1990 and has increased more rapidly since then.

The most comprehensive survey of churches and Christians in Nepal was conducted by the Nepal Research and Resource Network.

It showed a total of 2,799 churches and 274,462 baptised church members. The survey counted 379,042 persons attending churches and presumed to be Christian; this number equals about 1.5 percent of Nepal’s population. Ten percent of the churches have sent out a missionary or evangelist, and one out of five churches has planted one or more daughter churches.

God's option for the poor

Researchers Donald Miller and Tetsunao Yamamori went looking for fast growing churches in the developing world addressing social needs in their community. The churches had to be led and funded indigenously. No foreign money or leadership.

Is it any surprise that 85% of the churches that fitted the criteria were Pentecostal or charismatic?

Their conclusion after a four year study spanning twenty nations: some of the most innovative social programs in the world are being initiated by fast-growing Pentecostal churches.

Case studies cited include, AIDS projects in Kampala, ministries to children in the slums of Cairo, schools for the children of prostitutes in Calcutta, treatment programs for drug addicts in Hong Kong, political rights for indigenous people in Guatemala.

It seems that while Liberation Theology opted for the poor, the poor opted for Pentecostalism.

"Global Pentecostalism: The New Face of Christian Social Engagement" (Donald E. Miller, Tetsunao Yamamori)

Growing leaders for a church planting movement

Sherwood Lingenfelter-1 Sherwood Lingenfelter's reflections on non-formal leadership training as pioneered by Paul Gupta and the Hindustan Bible Institute: 1. Non formal training vastly expands the potential recruits. Some of the most successful church planters won’t make it into or through formal training.

2. Practical engagement quickly sifts out those who are not wired for, or committed to, the ministry. In formal education many persist who can do the academic work, but then fail in ministry.

3. Experiential (on-site) learning has powerful results for adult learners. The addition of the on-site training had a multiplication effect on the number of churches planted.

4. Evaluation and correction with reference to goal increases positive learning outcomes. Because the HBI team had a clear idea of the kinds of leaders needed, they were able to adjust the training to achieve the goal.

5. The variable pace and repetition of learning serves the diversity of trainees, so that most succeed. Part of the genius of the repetitive series of trainings lies in their flexibility for the learner. Each phase of the training takes a student deeper than the previous one, yet the exact depth varies with each student. Individuals who progress rapidly become coaches for those following at a slower rate.

6. On-site mentoring advances student learning. Mentors play an important role in all the training components. Trainer mentors and peer mentors assist trainees in the development of spiritual disciplines, character, and skill for ministry. The on-site mentoring for church planting seemed to have the most powerful impact on student learning.

7. Empowerment of trainees to train others serves to multiply leaders and followers. The practice of teaching trainees to teach their new converts and teaching new converts to teach their families had a profound multiplication effect when it was implemented well.

“Breaking Tradition to Accomplish Vision: Training Leaders for a Church-Planting Movement: A Case from India” (Paul R. Gupta, Sherwood G. Lingenfelter), 40-1.

Christianity moves southChurch Planting MovementsLeadership