Area: 3,166,000 sq km
A further 121,000 sq km of Kashmir, a contested area, is administered by Pakistan and China. Geographically and politically, India dominates South Asia and the Indian Ocean. There are 28 Union States and 7 Union Territories.
Population: 1,214,464,312 Annual Growth: 1.44%
Official language: Constitutionally there are 22 official languages. The official language is Hindi (spoken by 40% of the population). English is a subsidiary official language Languages: 456 All languages
Largest Religion: Hinduism
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Training Christian workers is an important need that is immediately urgent and essential in the long term. The life and health of the Church depend on the proper development of pastors, teachers, evangelists and missionaries. In churches, poor discipling and lack of teaching and modelling of biblical life and leadership are problems. Indias strong philosophical tradition and religious, cultural and ethnic diversity make adequate training crucial, but most workers are sent out with very little specific preparation for their ministry context. There are over 100,000 full-time workers in India; about half are pastoring local churches. There is, on average, one trained pastor for every six congregations. Pray for:
a) Degree-level seminaries, which now number over 100; praise God for the multiplication of these! There are three accrediting agencies Senate of Serampore College, Asia Theological Association and Indian Institute of Missiology. Many of these seminaries are theologically evangelical. The number of seminary graduates opting for missionary service, however, is decreasing. Pray for an increasing stream of well-trained, spiritually passionate workers with a burden for effective ministry in their nation.
b) Bible schools number over 1,000 and are doubling in number every 10 years. Evangelical institutions are full. Bible schools are moving from merely teaching theology to giving practical skills for ministry, particularly for church planting.
c) Training centres for indigenous workers play a significant role. Set up largely for church planters, these number over 100 (FMPB, IEM, OM, ICRM, GEMS, Missions India, Seva Bharat, Operation Agape, others). GFA has set up 55 such centres, with 7,000 currently receiving training.
d) New, creative ways for multiplying leaders must be developed. The need is greater than what residential institutions can produce, and 90% of pastors lack access to adequate theological training. Also, residential institutions must move beyond a Western maintenance model that has minimal impact on the non-Christian majority. Thankfully, there is a growing stream of non-formal education that is looking at how to address this challenge.
e) Training Christians those outside of the traditional roles of pastor, evangelist and missionary to be effective witnesses and ministers is essential. The Indian Church must learn to have a greater impact in the workplace, especially in the newer areas of IT, business and such.
f) The house/cell church movement is rapidly spreading in many parts of the country, with estimates of up to 100,000 such gatherings. These movements are proving culturally appropriate, affordable, biblically authentic and very effective.
g) The South Asia Bible Commentary will be a boon to potentially hundreds of thousands of pastors, lay leaders and students.
For an additional 13 Challenges for Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.
The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of India.