When Kathleen and I filmed in India recently, we attended the massive Calvary Temple church in Hyderabad, founded by my friend Pastor Satish Kumar. After many successful years traveling throughout India as a very effective evangelist, in 2005 Kumar felt God leading him to start Calvary Temple church, and the growth has been absolutely phenomenal.
Just look at these numbers:
—Within little more than a year of its founding, the church had nearly 1,000 members.
—Within another year the church had reached 3,000 members.
—In 2008 it hit 8,000 members.
—In 2009 it had 18,000 members.
—In 2011, 40,000 members.
—In 2013, 80,000 members.
—In 2015, 100,000 members.
—Today, more than 225,000 people worship God in this church or one of its campuses every week.
According to church numbers, every month, nearly 3,000 people are added to the church and every year 25,000 to 30,000 new members are added. The remarkable building and its overflow currently accommodates 40,000 per service and it takes five services each Sunday to fit everyone into the buildings.
It's the largest church in India, and most likely, it's the fastest-growing church in the world.
In light of this remarkable growth, I asked one of the leaders about their church-growth programs. After all, explosive multiplication like that must be the result of some serious evangelism campaigns, marketing efforts and outreaches to the community. He told me that although they have "service" outreaches like a free medical clinic, food distribution programs and a retirement home for members, they don't do any real church growth programs or outreach campaigns at all.
So why all the remarkable growth? He told me they have a powerful culture of invitation. Every Sunday, church members actively invite family members, neighbors, co-workers and friends. He said rarely does he meet a church member on Sunday who doesn't have multiple people he or she has invited to the church.
It made me think about the last time I invited someone to my church. How did we lose that "culture of invitation" in the United States?
If you're a pastor, are you teaching the supreme importance of inviting people to church? And if you're a church member, why aren't you inviting more people? Are we afraid? Self-centered? Don't care?
Much like social media, as a church grows, if each person invites just one each Sunday, the increase in attendance would be exponential. And yet we spend millions on church-growth campaigns, marketing and evangelism outreaches, and at the same time, forget the enormous power of a simple personal invitation.
Apparently, the members of Calvary Temple understand that eternity hangs in the balance and have a burning desire to see people come to Christ.
What would be the impact if we all had that passion?
Phil Cooke has produced TV and film programming in more than 60 countries around the world, and in the process, he's been shot at, survived two military coups, fallen out of a helicopter and been threatened with prison in Africa. And during that time—through his company Cooke Media Group in Los Angeles, California—he's helped some of the largest Christian and nonprofit organizations in the world use the media to tell their story in a changing, disrupted culture.
For the original article, visit philcooke.com.
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