Friday, February 23, 2007

Chennai – Day 4

Warning: I am too tired to edit this so am posting without proofing...

It is Friday evening and we just got back from dinner. A few of us went back to Sparky’s. We rode back in an auto-rickshaw which is an adventure all in itself. I am trying to stay on top of my journal but we don’t have much time. Everything is beginning to run together for me. I can barely think of what we did when. I will catch up on day 3 and day 5 tomorrow.

Thursday morning we debriefed the previous two days with Ray. We had seen Opportunity International (micro-finance), Compassion Intl. (children), Sparky’s. Ray asked, “what similarities did we see, what text does each model operate under, what would I have to learn to do what they do, what is the tool kit in this ministry?”

He talked about one of the organization's very narrow focus. The text to describe them would be Micah 6:8 and Ezek 16:21. When there is systemic evil you can’t just repent of it. You have to change the unjust laws. He compared this to the book of Ester. Ester replaced a pagan queen and accessed the power to change the plan of evil against the Israelites. And here is what I love about Ray, from there he talked about Purim. That many of us need to recover a ‘party theology’ especially when working with the poor and marginalized. Passover is when you celebrate deliverance from slavery or oppression. Purim (party) is when you celebrate in the midst of exile or when you can’t change the outside situation. Don’t you love that?
He spoke on Compassion Intl as a ‘cup of cold water’ ministry. He rehearsed the beginnings of World Vision. There is no one way to love a city.

Our first lecture of the morning was from Vasantha Raju Albert, Church Growth Association. He spoke on the creation of self help groups which are like cell churches all over the city. India has the second largest population in the world. 650 million people. 40% of the planet lives in two countries, India and China. Urban India is the equivalent of the entire US population. Albert believes the Church in India is stuck in tradition and will have to contextualize in order to get a hearing.
Ray followed up his talk with a story about meeting with a group of pastors in Cairo. Ray asked them to invent models and strategies that might work…they had many…then he had them identify what were the barriers that would keep them from innovating…ten barriers were identified…they were all from within the church.

The next lecture was Bishop Ezra of ECI (Evangelical Church of India). Bishop Ezra worked with Donald McGavaran and oversees a church planting organization. He presented their church planting and training model. The goal for ECI is to plant ten thousand churches by 2020 and one hundred thousand house churches in the next fifteen years to accommodate the expected house church explosion.

Our last lecture of the morning was from Ananda Ranjan Doss
Former Chief City Planner for Chennai. His lecture was titled, Chennai City Profile
And the politics of Planning. Profile – 62 million people
State – Tamil Nadu – An overview
Most organized state in India
256 engineering colleges in this state
1427 IT firms….08 million jobs projected

2nd most important city in IT
40% of the 8 million people in Chennai live in slums.
While this man was passionate and ‘charming’ to use the words of a friend in class, I could not understand him. He spoke very fast (he was passionate).
After lunch we visited Sify a leading Internet Provider in India and then on to the Art Lab.

I found the contrast between the first presenter that was convinced the Church in India is too traditional and will need to go the way of cell church/house churches in contrast with the second presenter who was very much into mega church (and house churches). Again we heard there is not one way to be the church.

Once again I am encouraged that we can agree there is not one way to do ministry. The church comes in many forms and manifestations and that is good. Even though I did not understand all of what Doss, the former City Planner said I understand the importance of being involved in the city. If we are going to exist to serve our community we have to know what is happening. I am fully convinced that as long as we have a facility in a community then we need to be the presence of Christ in that community.

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