Rapid growth in Papua New Guinea results in more than 700 new churches

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Attendees enjoying reading the Bible together. (Credit: Danijela Schubert/Facebook)

Data collected at recent ministers’ meetings and discipleship training events held across Papua New Guinea (PNG) has revealed significant growth over the past 12 months, thanks to the implementation of Discovery Bible Reading (DBR).

As a snapshot, Eastern Highlands Simbu Mission (EHSM) has planted 592 “branch churches” and Madang Manus Mission (MMM) has planted 185 in the past year.

Church leaders have been training churches in PNG to implement clear and simple disciple-making building strategies, including DBR, which is followed by nearly all new branch churches and branch Sabbath schools in the country.

“Disciple-making is multiplying across those cities, towns and regions of Papua New Guinea where the simple, reproducible, no-cost methods of Jesus are being followed,” said Dr Peter Roennfeldt, who conducted some of the discipleship training events. “Over the past three years the South Pacific Division (SPD) Discipleship Ministry Team (DMT) has consistently used DBR as the foundation. Now, new groups are multiplying into new church plants.”

In EHSM, there are 222 organised churches, who between them have planted 592 “branch churches”, including hand churches, church plants and small groups. Most of this growth has occurred over the past year thanks to the intentional creation of “branch Sabbath schools”.

“Branch Sabbath schools are conducted by Sabbath school class teams, gathering families near their homes to sing and read the gospels using the Discovery Bible Reading (DBR) method,” said Dr Roennfeldt.

A total 158 of the 222 organised churches in EHSM have restructured to facilitate branch Sabbath schools, splitting their classes into smaller groups according to geographical location.

The story is similar in MMM, where 62 organised churches have planted 185 new churches between them. A total 51 of the 62 organised churches in MMM have restructured to facilitate branch Sabbath schools.

“The data outlines some amazing multiplication as a result of progressive equipping over three years,” said SPD DMT stewardship director Christina Hawkins, who conducted training in Goroka. “Continuity pays dividends for the kingdom.”

In addition to Dr Roennfeldt and Mrs Hawkins, Dr Danijela Schubert, Dr Nick Kross and Dr Leigh Rice also conducted training across Papua New Guinea—including in Madang, Manus Island, Alotau, Goroka, Wewak, Vanimo, Port Morseby and Central Papua Conference—during January.

“I was in Madang and people travelled from all around the province, some through the night to attend the training,” said Dr Schubert. “They slept in little tents, crammed into small classrooms, under the trees, around the building on concrete. Such dedication.”

Presenters focused on implementing clear and simple disciple-making building strategies, including DBR, and other simple processes including enlisting elders to baptise and having regular Lord’s Suppers in different locations, and introduced new resources.