For nearly 40 years, BILD has invested in the development and establishment of church partners in India. These partners are leaders of networks of churches, all committed to following the New Testament patterns for training leaders and establishing churches and church networks in biblical principles.
A significant step in our partnership occurred this past March when 273 church network and ministry leaders celebrated the completion of a Master Craftsman Doctorate of Ministry program. This celebration ceremony was to recognize the hard work these leaders put in over the past six months as they became equipped to develop strategies for building church-planting movements that are solidly based in New Testament principles.
Because of the global pandemic, any training and resource tools provided by BILD to our Indian partners has been done completely online for the last three years. As we began reengaging with these partners, Michael Vos wanted to create a program for them that was “simple, transferable, and repeatable.”
With coaching from the BILD team, the Indian leaders began the Master Craftsman Doctorate of Ministry program. The Indian cohorts were required to move through two major BILD resources weekly which consisted of reading and producing a project through one BILD encyclical and another BILD resource. The projects consisted of an overview of the core ideas in each resource and its implications for their ministry context.
There was a lot of motivation from the Indian church leaders as they worked hard to complete their competencies and cross the finish line this past February and prepare for a graduation celebration in March.
James Riley, BILD’s translation project manager, was a coach for one of the Indian cohorts and was able to see the development from his group as they worked through the program as it pertained to their local ministries. James said one of the big benefits of the program was not just having the learners give him the core ideas from the material in their own words, but it was their understanding of the core ideas and the implications for their ministry that started to open up a different level of learning.
He said his group’s understanding opened even further when they realized the program could be accomplished and easily integrated into their daily ministry tasks and long-term planning. Once that realization took place many of the cohort members began to encourage one another to cross the finish line and to participate fully in all that was happening.
It was encouraging for him to see the implications of their understanding across different ministries and network spheres. It also solidified that these ideas in not only their minds but also James’ mind, that the New Testament model of ordering and establishing churches is still the normative way for church planting and it can be accomplished in all cultures at all times.
Michael said the celebration in India was a nodal event for BILD as he, Jeff Reed, and Steve Kemp shared in recognizing these leaders. Two celebration ceremonies took place in India, one of which had over 1,000 people gathered together in an event that felt more like a family reunion. Of those recognized and given certificates for their completion of the program were husbands and wives, fathers, sons and daughters. Many who had never attended such an event or been awarded for their achievements. One leader’s family saved money for him to buy a suit for the occasion.
The excitement of celebrating together could also be seen in the conversations with each other as they shared their strategies for the next steps of their ministries. Steve said one of the seven requirements to complete the program was to produce a master strategy that captures the core ideas and how they will be using it within their sphere of ministry responsibility.
Michael said the celebration is a catapult for the years ahead and how we can strive towards finish lines and celebrate together. It also gave him the opportunity to build the principles of how there is a global movement bringing the New Testament model back to our world, and we are in this work together. We are seeing the Spirit moving in India as these leaders commit their lives to these ideas and use them to shape their ministries. As they are grounded in the principles, the foundation is being strengthened for future generations to continue to make an impact in India.