We’ve been tracking three dozen new faith community projects happening around Indiana since Church Development set a goal of launching 30 new faith communities by 2020. We’ve exceeded our goal two years early! Yet, as exciting as this is, it was put in perspective last week when I heard a man speak who has helped start 95,000 churches. Yes, that is 95 followed by three zeros. These churches have had 140,000 baptisms in the past 18 months alone!
So where is this happening and who is this man? It’s happening in India through an organization called the India Gospel League. The man I heard speak at the annual Exponential Conference last week is Samuel Stephens who took over the leadership of IGL from his father. At that time they had established 60 churches. How do you go from 60 to 95,000 churches in a matter of twenty or so years? Multiplication. Multiplication that begins with each new believer. You see before a believer is even baptized they must be discipling someone else, and that fledgling disciple is a witness at the believer’s baptism. Multiplication is built in to the very essence of each church at the most basic level.
So what’s your church’s expectations? If you’re like me, the whole idea seems radical, yet isn’t that what we see going on in the Book of Acts? Multiplication was also at the heart of the Methodist movement in America where the number of Methodists grew from thousands to reaching 38% of the nation’s population by the mid 19th century. It’s not pie-in-the-sky thinking to think it could happen again today. It’s happening in India. It could happen in Indiana. It just requires us to return to multiplication thinking. So let’s go!
— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development