Some years ago it was fashionable in India to have tree planting programs during a particular time of the year; schools and organizations vied with each other as to the number of trees planted. One gentleman, the director of several schools, claimed to have planted thousands of trees; other groups offered numbers in the hundreds. Prem Sewa not wanting to be left out invited this director and we too had a tree planting program. It was a great affair with the necessary speeches as to the values of tree plantation etc. It was followed by planting a row of tree which Prem Sewa provided having purchased them at bargain prices from the Government. The kids had a lot of fun and of course planting trees is good and beneficial.
I watched the circus and could not help but observe that no sooner a tree planter had planted a tree that he turned his back to it to plant the next tree and the next tree. I love trees; at Prem Sewa we planted many trees – without the circus and – those trees are still here for anybody and everybody to see. The hundred trees planted during that program one by one succumbed to the disease called neglect. We simply could not manage the daily care they needed. The thousands of trees planted across the city and no doubt across the nation suffered the same fate for not many are in evidence. The problem is there is not a second group of people – the nurturers. The Government simply did not have the manpower to look after all these trees and those who planted them are too busy – planting more trees…
What applies to tree planting applies to church planting. The number of churches planted is commendable. But what is lacking is nurturing these churches. To my knowledge there is no group of “church-plant nurturers” who make it their job to see that these churches grow – not just numerically but spiritually and in the knowledge of the Word of God.
The tragedy is that once the man who initiated these church-plants moves on the greener pastures – the churches die or they get embroiled in turf wars and split in a hundred different directions.
Furthermore the often massive expansion – take it with a pinch of salt – out of necessity spreads money received over an even larger area rather thin. Most pastors of these new church-plants receive wages that would make a dog refuse to bark, leave alone a man to preach or teach. The old adage formerly applied to pastors in Canada or the US, applies here, “Lord you keep him humble and we keep him poor.”
Organizations from the West pour in tons of useless literature, which now rots in storerooms or corners of already overcrowded homes.
The material to be used by young or even older pastors must be attractive simple and very brief. They won’t read a book. A detailed Bible outline with some introductory material to each book would be ideal. I prepared outlines for all the books of the Bible which came to 101 double-sided pages. (sample attached) To survive the rigors of village living I laminated each page which makes it expensive for an individual. I am sure publishing houses could come up with a process which is just as durable and cheaper. Translation of the material in different languages should prove no problem. Then even in the absence of nurturers and or church planters these churches can survive spiritually on their own; not only survive but thrive.