“Churches need to strike a wise and biblical balance as they venture into discipleship in a digital age,” a collection of writers of The Gospel Coalition India said. They had gathered in person in Delhi and online to celebrate the launch of the country website of the coalition.
The role of digital in the discipleship process cannot be ignored. “The digital space is no longer just for entertainment, but it has become the way many groups work,” Abishua Joel, a writer for TGC India, said.
“(Yet) It is imperative to understand that ultimately the God-ordained means for discipleship is the local church,” pastor and writer Christopher David added. “There is absolutely no replacement for the physical gathering of the saints, the preaching of God’s word, the faithful administration of his sacraments, and the proper exercise of pastoral care and church discipline.”
“TGC supports the local church in making disciples of all nations by providing resources that are trusted and timely, winsome and wise, and centered on the Gospel of Jesus Christ”, Julius Kim, president of The Gospel Coalition, said in his talk on The Why and the What of The Gospel Coalition.
Patient and Faithful
“The Gospel Coalition India will take the postures of patience and faithfulness in serving the church to make disciples in the digital space,” said Akshay Rajkumar, co-editor of TGC India along with Anand Mahadevan. “We want to consistently produce trusted gospel-centered content over a long period of time,” he added.
Discipleship must take its place in the digital space. The church has an opportunity and responsibility to embrace it and see it as an extension of its own ministry. There is a need, in the digital space, for gospel-centered answers to pressing questions that are contextualised for Indian culture and society.
Abishua Joel added, “A call to completely abandon or run away from the digital space or social media may not be fruitful considering that this space has become an unavoidable part of our lives. Secondly, the digital space creates an avenue for like-minded expressive individuals to find their identity in an expressive community.
Thirdly, to leverage collective wisdom, the church needs to draw from people who are more involved in the day to day affairs of culture and also engage broadly, not just within the local church. Lastly, saints can be equipped for the work of service and engaged in active discipleship in the digital space.”
Over 300,000 Indians visited The Gospel Coalition website in 2021. Many of them, like TGC India writer Shobana Vetrivel, google topics of interest or doubt suffixing “The Gospel Coalition” to the search query.
“Every time I do that I know I will find solid gospel resources. However, while the content and authors are familiar, they are also distant because they are removed from my context and culture. But reading articles on TGC India can remove that distance and addresses issues and challenges that speak to struggles in India,” she said.
TGC India already has a rich talent pool of nearly 25 trustworthy writers penning articles for Indian readers, applying the gospel to issues and challenges faced by Indians.
“These are people speaking my language, speaking the language of my culture, and who are speaking the Gospel. This plays a part in creating a sense of community. Even though it is digital, it is near,” Vetrivel added.
TGC India desires to identify and nurture over 100 Indian writers who can write true, relevant, and winsome articles that are both deeply grounded in the gospel and contextually relevant to Indian culture.
“I think writing is like a muscle you need to develop. The more you use it, the stronger it becomes. Don’t wait for inspiration to write, but work the writing muscle on a consistent basis,” writer Susan Narjala said offering encouragement to a vast pool of future writers that TGC India desires to nurture.
“Seeing how the Gospel shapes our everyday life—I think that would be key to writing for The Gospel Coalition India,” she said. “The sacred and secular space as connected rather than being in these airtight compartments.”
The Vision of TGC India
“In its simplest form TGC India is a means of spiritual formation for the Indian church,” Rajkumar said.
Formation is inevitable. We are either being ‘conformed’ to the pattern of this world through its systems and structures like social media and streaming services or we are being ‘transformed’ by the renewing of our minds.
“Discipleship is a journey, not an event. It is a marathon, not a sprint,” Akshay added. Discipleship in the digital space is no different.
Lastly, spiritual formation is spiritual. God does it through his Holy Spirit. His intent is “through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord (Eph. 3:10-11).
“The word ‘disciple’ means ‘learner.’ And we want TGC India to nurture a community of learners — rooted in the gospel and the church. We want to invite this generation of leaders to curate and create gospel-centered resources for the next generation of Christian leaders,” he concluded.