You can say this about Christian leaders in the Philippines—they have vision.
In 1974, there were around 5,000 churches in the entire nation. Then, a key church-growth conference was held in Manila. Out of this conference was birthed the Disciple A Whole Nation (DAWN) movement. DAWN’s vision? By the year 2000—a mere 25 years away—there would be 50,000 churches in the Philippines… a 1000% increase!
It sounds incredible, doesn’t it? But when 2000 rolled around, the Philippines celebrated an actual total of over 68,000 churches! It is one of the most remarkable church-growth seasons in history.
President Joe Handley and I had the opportunity to hear about this firsthand recently. We were in Metro Manila, meeting with a number of key leaders as we explored the possibility of A3 becoming part of God’s work in the Philippines. Along with the tremendous blessings the Philippine Church has enjoyed, however, we also learned that this rapid growth has created significant challenges.
Big Growth = Big Challenges
Many churches are led by young leaders who lack education, experience, and spiritual maturity. Many congregations are equally young and immature. This young-leader, young-church combination can lead to major stress for everyone involved.
One veteran pastor shared his experience:
“I had five staff at my church. All of them had problems with their wives. I found that at times they overworked in the ministry so that they could avoid their problems at home.
“On top of this, churches are not trained or equipped to know how to care for and support their pastors. It becomes a doubled-edged problem. We need training for pastors and for churches, particularly church elders and board members.”
Later that same day, we met with Pastor Mark Rosacay, a dynamic emerging leader at a church in southwest Manila. Mark was called into the ministry out of the advertising business, where he had begun his career after completing college.
He described his experience as common in the Philippines. “Many pastors in the Philippines are called rather than hired. They did not come out of seminary or Bible school training. In the provinces, they are often bi-vocational due to lack of resources. So we have pastors who are big on call, but small on training and empowerment.”
Over and over, we heard a refrain capsulized by Dr. Met Castillo, a veteran pastor, missionary, seminary president, and pioneer member of the original DAWN movement: “Training, leadership training, is a dire need in the Philippines.”
Tackle the Problems—and Full Speed Ahead
Filipino leaders are aware of the challenges they face and, encouragingly for A3, are enthusiastic as to how A3 could help to address these challenges. But growth problems notwithstanding, one thing that is still running strong is the vision for Kingdom growth that drove the original DAWN movement.
Are leaders in the Philippines content to rest on past blessings? Consider these visions for the future we heard from two key Filipino leaders.
Bishop Dan Balais(below), Senior Pastor/President of Christ the Living Stone Fellowship and Chairman of Intercessors for the Philippines, shared a vision for growth tied into the year 2020, which marks the 500th anniversary of the Christian cross being planted in the Philippines. “Right now, the Body of Christ comprises 12% of the population. By 2020, our vision is that fully 50% of the population will be Christ followers.”
Second, we heard from Pastor Nono Badoy (below), who has just assumed the presidency of the Philippine Mission Association after 21 years of ministry with Evangelism Explosion. Pastor Nono shared PMA’s ambitious vision: By 2020, their goal is to plant nearly 60,000 new churches in the Philippines, which would bring the total number of churches from the current 68,000 to nearly 130,000 churches.
He also outlined some additional 2020 goals:
- 30,000 churches mobilized to engage in cross-cultural outreach
- 5,000,000 prayer intercessors mobilized, to pray both for the Philippines and for unreached peoples worldwide
- 2,000,000 believers engaged in cross-cultural evangelism
- 500 new Bible translation workers to assist Wycliffe and SIL in ongoing Bible translation projects for unreached people groups
What amazing vision!
We are excited to see how God seems to be leading A3 to become a part of the amazing Kingdom vision in the Philippines—and how God could use A3 to help identify, develop and release the dynamic leaders He has raised up to grow His Church in this wonderful country.