How Pastors in India are Expanding their Service Through Bi-vocational Training

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Listening with our hearts, or empathic listening, is one of the most important things the church can do to serve those in their community. In fact, the things that make us the church (or body of Christ) are the things that we have in common with every other Christian church in our city, country, or around the world—everywhere, ever since Jesus. It’s through listening that we are able to uncover those similarities and embrace our differences.

Listening to one another is imperative for fruitful relationships among our communities as well as cross-culturally, and with this trust-building action, we can personally see a holistic ministry develop before our eyes.

Healthy churches encourage their staff and leaders to read, study, and travel as they seek guidance and insight for the future. That includes being in the community and understanding the plight of those they serve.

Equipping The Body of Christ

In India, Mission ONE partners have been intentional about listening to the needs of their community. By providing pastors the opportunity for bi-vocational training, they are helping meet their physical needs in doing dignified work, as well as their spiritual needs, honoring God and making their communities more like the Kingdom.

This holistic approach represents a massive shift for the church in India, because many of those existing church leaders were trained to expect sustaining support from outside sources, or people in their own community, and when that didn’t happen, some pastors had to adapt. But in the shift, God proved that he had more fruitful plans for how ministry was carried out in those communities.

A bi-vocational approach to training pastors brings a unique holistic vision for ministry to communities. It may also be a precursor to more in-depth vocational theology training, as well as basics of business/finance—which would lead to a variety of different vocations (farming, sewing, literacy, etc.). This training has become a crucial tool for local pastors as they equip community members to build their economy. Bi-vocational training breeds connection and empathy as well as a practical way to sustain church leadership.

Bi-vocational pastors show the generosity expected of every believer, as well as the sacrifice that comes with taking on new responsibilities with demanding needs. People learn best by example, and when pastors live out the gospel in their community, it empowers others to do the same.

“When someone commits to joining the church planting team, they commit to walk alongside, equip, train, and—to a small degree, support them [pastors] financially for seven years. The goal is for them to have healthy churches and be locally supported by then. The vision they cast is for them to start a mother church that would birth at least 5 daughter churches, many often plan more.” —Mission ONE Partners in India.

Where Physical and Spiritual Meet

This work also reinforces the gospel that Jesus is King over the whole world and we are to mobilize God’s people to alleviate suffering in the here and now while also restoring hope in the future salvation we have been promised. Our robust vision of God’s salvation celebrates the whole human in mind, body and spirit. We see the honor of all people restored at the intersection of the spiritual and physical. When a pastor’s physical needs are met alongside their spiritual needs, they’re able to thrive and make a greater ripple effect in the community they serve.

Our partners in India have a vision to raise-up 2,000 leaders, develop 20,000 worship communities, and reach 2 million people with the gospel.

The Farm Project: Sowing Seeds of Change

When the initial bi-vocational pastor training began, it was a seed planted, and nourished through hard work and perseverance. It made a way for the community to be better prepared for challenging times.

When the 2020 Global Pandemic hit, the entire dynamic of the world shifted, and migrant workers in India became stranded, unable to care for their families, in desperate need for assistance.

Because of the multi-disciplinary training their pastors had received, they were able to rise up and care for these stranded migrant workers, by leveraging their business and farming knowledge to create a project that would serve the entire community.

When the idea of a farm came about, there was a couple who volunteered to help lead it. This couple was an answer to prayer, and they played a vital role in getting the farm established. Although they were not believers they engaged regularly with our partners in India. Over time and through the relationships developed with the couple, they came to know the Lord!

A few hundred people were hired to help build the farm, which blessed them immensely, and since it remains operational, they have now gone through a few cycles of harvesting and selling the vegetables they have grown. Many people have been blessed to be able to buy these locally-grown organic vegetables, and they have even had months where their profits were upwards of $3,600. Now, more than 500 people have been blessed to be part of building, maintaining, and working the farm.

The farm project led the way for an amazing change to take place, providing employment and purpose to many. It was one of the only things the community could do with all the restrictions in place at the time, and God perfectly orchestrated its inception and success.

This my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you –John15:12

Our India partners’ commitment to love their neighbor through difficult times and their response in caring for their community during the Pandemic—leading to the farm project, is creating a ripple effect that provides hope and opportunities for dignified work for the glory of God and the honor of all people.

Learn more about how you can support our partners across the globe, and get involved by visiting our website.

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