Our evangelism and church planting model consists of a team-based, 5-year approach. Whether in Tamil Nadu or Haryana, teams drive our evangelism strategy.
First we appoint a senior leader—a facilitator—to have hands-on oversight of all ministry work on a particular mission field. A facilitator is a national pastor of proven faith and character, usually seminary educated (or having another graduate degree) and adequately proficient in English. He is able to train and mentor others. He knows the power of prayer and fasting.
A facilitator's first task is to recruit and build a team of 20 national pastors. He looks for those who 1) have planted at least one church, and 2) are self-supporting. A self-supporting pastor is one without ties—financial or otherwise—to any mission agency; someone either salaried by the local church he serves or supported through full-time employment.
Over the next 6 months, the facilitator builds his team. He casts the vision of Serve India's church planting model to local pastors and helps them explore how they can best introduce Christ in unreached villages. At the end of that time, those who believe God is leading them to link up with our evangelism strategy solidify their commitment.
We ask each pastor to sign a Memorandum of Understanding, which spells out our mutual commitment: Serve India commits to empower with training and support—including financial support for ministry expansion. The pastor, in turn, agrees to conduct his life and ministry with integrity.
The next part of the church planting model unfolds as each of the 20 pastors selects 5 Indian villages for his outreach focus. For the next 5 years, these are the villages he prays for and evangelizes with the intent of planting a church. With each visit, he comes to know each village's unique personality—how open people are to the Gospel, their religious affiliations, their problems and needs.
The way a pastor conducts outreach depends on the village. He may hand out tracts or other Gospel literature, preach in the open air, show an evangelistic film, or share Christ by radio; his evangelism strategy stays flexible. As time passes and people come to faith through his witness, a small group of new believers forms—the beginning of a Christian fellowship.
Twenty pastors targeting 5 villages each translates to 100 villages reached, or 20,000-30,000 people (average population of a village: 2,500).
Many national pastors have never had the opportunity to attend Bible school. That's why training is essential to Serve India's church planting model. Local pastors are hungry for ongoing training that establishes them in God's Word and other key ministry responsibilities.
Each month, pastors regroup in their teams for 1-2 days of leadership training. Our curriculum is published by BILD International and offers 5 training levels corresponding to 5 leadership roles in the local church. For pastors, the curriculum begins with an overview of the teachings of Christ and the apostles. Then it takes them through 25 core courses, complete with real-life projects. With a church planting model anchored in systematic training over 5 years, our evangelism strategy builds strong leaders.
"Teach as you learn" is a basic principle of the BILD training. Each pastor, for example, trains 5 elders in his church, who then train 10 volunteers each. Serve India's evangelism strategy would be incomplete without this multiplication emphasis that helps all believers—and not just leaders—become rooted, built up, and established in faith (Colossians 2: 6-7).