It is often hard to know the exact stage of a movement. This is true in the movement started by Mary*, an All Nations missionary in South Asia. This movement is unique in that it began right as COVID did. This made it impossible for Mary to return to the country long term initially. Instead, she stayed in touch with the leaders of the movement using technology. Now that COVID restrictions have lifted she will visit the country for 4-5 months at a time.
Mary gathered local leaders for a church planting training at the beginning of 2020. She got stuck in the country when COVID hit and was evacuated by emergency in May 2020. By the time she left, 17 first generation churches were planted. Those who were trained were praying, meeting people, making disciples, and gathering (the STEPS of a movement!).
Mary also trained these leaders in Pioneer Business Planting through one-on-one conversations. They needed a means to have income while planting churches, and the businesses they started helped with that. Many of the people they met and shared about Jesus with happened through their businesses.
Second and Third Generation: Profile of Shalini
Second generation churches began as those participating in the first generation churches began meeting and attempting to lovingly obey Jesus and his commands. Leaders and new disciples also continued to participate in the steps of a movement, adding the ‘multiply’ step. One person whose story can illustrate this process is Shalini!
One of the participants from Mary’s training planted a church. This church planter shared about Jesus with Shalini (upper left), and she came to faith. The church planter gave her an audio recorder of the Bible and taught her how to do Discovery Bible Studies. This is important because Shalini is illiterate.
The church planter also taught her principles of Pioneer Business Planting which Mary had passed on. Shalini learned how to build a business that can be a place where God is glorified and his kingdom is expanded. The second picture above shows Shalini at work. She organizes meetings to demonstrate her ware, engages with the attendees, and shares about Jesus and prays with them.
Shalini became a prayer warrior. Many of her prayers are answered. She also led people to faith, and with those people started a second generation church in her home.
Through Shalini’s witness her husband (beside the boy in red) and three sons (three at the right of the photo) came to faith. They were all baptized.
One of her sons (checkered blue shirt) has started a house church in a neighboring village – this is a third generation church! See a photo of the church meeting below.
Like his mom, he received an individual Pioneer Business Planting training and recently has also started a stationary business. He also shares about Jesus through his business.
It took about two years for 31 churches to be planted. Because there are second generation churches, this is definitely a stage two movement according to our definition above.
There have only been a few third generation churches planted that Mary knows about – like the one planted by Shalini’s son. Mary says that she is expecting more to come as the local leaders continue make disciples and also host trainings on church planting. At the moment the church planters have been more focused on taking the church planting and pioneer business planting trainings to other parts of their country, so many first generation churches have been planted.
It is difficult to know how many churches there actually are because the leaders do not always answer her inquiries, and there are also times when they don’t seem to understand her questions. She does not understand the local language, so she can only communicate with those who speak English.
One dynamic related to COVID that Mary has learned is that leaders of traditional churches in the country are more open to multiplying churches than expected. This is because they observed how their churches shut down during COVID, and home churches were able to continue meeting.
Pray with us for Mary. Shalini, and for the all involved in this church planting movement. Pray that it continues to multiply, that new disciples are well rooted in their faith, and for those leading to faithfully follow the Lord!
Interested in learning more about Church Planting Movements, and the skills to ignite one in your own neighborhood – or around the world? Check out our Catalyze and Church Planting Experience trainings!
Also take a look at our Pocket Guide to Church Planting – free to download!
*Names changed and faces hidden for security