Transforming communities is only possible when we discover the importance of becoming and making true disciples of Christ. It is with this mind-set that Empart trains, equips and sends local workers out to share the gospel. We then support these culturally aware leaders to carry out the mission for which they are called.
Jesus said, “All power has been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the end of the world” (Matt. 28: 18-20).
It is Empart’s belief that community transformation movements are the best way to accomplish the Great Commission. If we recognise the call for us to make disciples of all nations then we must make a point of training local workers and give them the means to fulfil their ministry of facilitating a multiplication of disciples and communities. Local gatherings are formed when a team of believers share the gospel, pray together and learn how to become disciples.
Community transformation movements are in essence a work of God’s Spirit. The strength and power that accompany them should not be limited in any way. The establishment of structures and strategies should be instituted with the sole intention of facilitating future growth. It is when these structures are deflected to contain, manage or control momentum that movement stops and a lifeless monument begins to take its place.
Empart considers community transformation to be a holistic activity. Whilst the ultimate purpose of a disciple is to love God and to love their neighbour, we also encourage our workers to love their community. This results naturally in the establishment of various community development programs which are then facilitated through the local community. It is this practical demonstration of Christ’s love which draws many to a relationship with him.
Since 1998, Empart has sent and supported over 4,000 local field workers. As of 2015, 20,117 communities have been transformed with more than 10,500 of these established as effective, solid entities. The remainder are communities still under development.
An established Empart community requires a minimum of 12 committed, dedicated believers led by a worker. Prior to this, developing communities are often referred to as a ‘prayer meeting’ or ‘gathering of believers’.
Established communities function independently and are not managed directly by Empart. They take on their own management, support themselves financially and ask for support only when absolutely necessary. They are also encouraged to participate in supporting the development of other communities.
History shows that the most effective way to reach out to people is to raise up indigenous leaders from within their own country. This is a principle which holds true even today. The message of Jesus is more readily accepted when presented by people who are culturally relevant and of the same ethnic background.
Strategic benefit of using indigenous workers
- They are best positioned to avoid Christianity being viewed as a ‘foreign religion’
- They are familiar with local culture and customs, making it easier for them to adapt
- They generally speak two or three languages which greatly facilitates communication
- They do not need any travel documents, visas or modern travel requirements
- Their standard of living is similar to that of local people which avoids tensions
- The cost to support a local is much lower than to support a foreign missionary
Training and accountability
After completing a year of training in one of Empart’s Transformation Centres, students pray and go to the region where God is calling them. They are placed under the responsibility of both a coordinator and regional leader. Empart then commits to training and supporting these young workers who in turn give a regular account of their ministry’s development.
Coordinators are responsible for about 25 field workers each. They meet monthly to pray with and disciple their team. Conferences, retreats and training programs are provided for encouragement and further training. Coordinators and regional leaders are then scrutinised at an annual evaluation facilitated by Jossy Chacko and members of the board.
During the first three years of their ministry, field workers are 100% supported by Empart. This support enables them to be trained for one year and grants them an additional two years to start one or more communities. From the fourth year on support gradually decreases. The local community of believers are then encouraged to take over their leader’s support.
The standard of living is very different from one region to another. Therefore Empart calculates the support of workers based upon the average income of the community to whom they are ministering. Empart’s policy is to lead workers on a path to financial independence within a period of about seven years. We therefore invest in the pioneering work only.