By Jim Nieman
Gary Johnson of e2: effective elders is excited to offer a three-day Elders’ Conference early next year in India, at Ajai Lall’s suggestion, for church leaders from six Asian countries.
“This is e2’s first venture into a cross-cultural elder setting,” Johnson said. “The men will leave with both biblical and practical ways to recruit, train, and release elders to lead courageously for God’s glory.”
The groundwork for this training venture was laid earlier this year when Lall, founder and director of Central India Christian Mission, suggested it during Johnson’s visit there. “There has never been a meeting like this,” Lall told Johnson. Lall, an India national who has started more than 2,000 churches, sees the training program as of “major importance” for that part of the world.
Lall has worked his network and contacts, Johnson said, and together they have set a goal of hosting 600 elders and ministers from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, and one other country.
Johnson and his team will teach skills for leading the local church. There will be six main sessions that address major biblical teachings about elders in the New Testament, and 12 workshops that cover practical applications of serving as elders.
Johnson mentioned “many major challenges” to a successful gathering (besides money). Among them:
• People from six very different cultures and 10 language groups will attend the training. (There will be interpreters.)
• There will be people from both urban and rural churches and a vast array of socioeconomic backgrounds.
• Some attendees will have a high level of spiritual maturity and Bible knowledge and others will not.
Despite the challenges, Johnson is excited for the opportunity of elders helping other elders and the spiritual impact this can have in that part of the world. He requests prayer for the success of the Feb. 7-9 conference.
CDF Capital is helping sponsor the event, and organizers plan to cover the attendees’ actual cost of the conference. The projected cost is $15,000; if 600 elders attend, that works out to $25 per person. To this point, more than half of the money has been raised. Johnson said e2 hopes to complete fund-raising by the end of this year. (Click here to make a tax-deductible donation through e2’s website.)
Attendees will need to pay for their travel to and from the conference, however. That is no small expense for people, many of whom have very meager incomes and no paid time off, Johnson said.
Johnson is expecting a great turnout for the training. “Ajai’s model is to have leadership events throughout the year.”
Two associates from Indian Creek Christian Church, Indianapolis—where Johnson is lead servant—will be assisting with training: Scott Heller, global outreach minister, and Tom Harrigan, adult discipleship minister. Also assisting will be Jared Johnson, operations director with e2.
Jim Nieman serves as managing editor of Christian Standard.