5 Dynamics Fueling the Growth Surge of the GLS in India
Scott Cochrane serves as the vice president of International at Willow Creek Association. An insightful and genuine leader, he travels the globe mentoring international teams. Prior to joining WCA, he was the executive pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Kelowna, British Columbia and provided leadership to the WCA Canada.
The Global Leadership Summit has seen a tremendous surge in growth in India in recent years, with six sites in 2013 that have grown to an expected 55 sites in 2016.
Earlier this year, I went to India to encourage our team and partners there, and to discover what was fueling this remarkable trend.
What I discovered were five significant dynamics sweeping across India.
- The church is on the move in India
While Hinduism remains the dominant religion in India, the Christian church is very much alive and is gaining strength across this vast nation.The roots of the church run very deep in India. Indeed, many people incorrectly believe that Christianity is a relative newcomer to the Indian religious landscape, with many thinking it was imported from Europe. In fact, Christianity can trace its roots to the first century, when it is believed that the Apostle Thomas arrived to spread the gospel in the present-day state of Kerala. Since then the church has played an important role in the life of India, particularly in the south and northeast portions of the country.Today there is a renewed sense of urgency to strengthen the local church, and this has increased the hunger for leadership training such as is provided by the Global Leadership Summit.
- Many churches are growing significantly
When any organization expands, it increases the need for effective leadership. This is certainly true in the church, and this dynamic is to be found across India.While there are many smaller churches, there are also churches of tremendous size. And all of them require leadership development.I saw one of the strongest examples of this in the city of Hyderabad, home to Calvary Temple; the third largest church in the world.Under the leadership of Pastor Satish Kumar, this church has grown to a congregation of 130,000, meeting five times per weekend in their 30,000 seat facility.I was privileged to bring greetings to the weekend service while visiting there, and could tell immediately that God was doing remarkable works in India through the raising up of fantastic leaders.
- Despite hardships, the church and the GLS continue to flourish
India seems to face more than its share of challenges and struggles. Yet in the face of these challenges, the local church continues to thrive.Nowhere was this more evident than last year in the city of Chennai, when horrific floods devastated the region. More than 500 people died in the floods and more 1.8 million were displaced.But through such disasters, the church has risen up and has provided much-needed practical help. Indeed, our GLS partner in Chennai, Hebron Castle Church, were among the key providers of assistance to flood victims.And in the face of such a calamity, they still managed to present a fantastic Global Leadership Summit in Chennai.
- There is a need to develop Christian leaders inside and outside the local church
God has placed Christian leaders in every area of the Indian society, and through the GLS, many of these leaders are learning how to impact their culture.While India continues to deal with poverty, things are changing rapidly. India now has the world’s fastest-growing economy, meaning opportunities abound for leaders to step up and make a difference.Indeed, India today is listed among the five nations many believe will dominate the world’s economy in this century. Together, these countries are often referred to by the acronym, BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).With such progress taking place, there is a growing and urgent need for Christian leaders to play a leading role.And the GLS is equipping many with what they need to play that role.
- Denominational walls are falling as urgency to spread the gospel increases
In one of the cities I visited, I met with close to 1000 Christian leaders who had gathered to see how they could work more effectively together to share the message of Christ’s love across India.
These leaders were from all denominations, cutting across evangelical, mainline and Catholic lines.
From all backgrounds the common message was clear: Christian leaders must band together to see India introduced to Jesus. In order for this to happen these leaders must be equipped and encouraged.
And, once again, the GLS is positioned to provide just that equipping and encouragement.
Without question, there are other factors at play, however these were among the most significant dynamics I observed that are fueling the incredible growth of the Global Leadership Summit in India.
Pray that God will continue this transformative work in India. And pray that we might find ways to further expand the GLS among the 1.3 billion people in this remarkable country