Calvary Temple

Calvary Temple: The Extraordinary Growth of India’s Largest and Fastest Growing Church

22 December 2023

3.5 MINS

Calvary Temple started in 2005 with about two dozen people. Today, it is India’s largest church, with over 300,000 members. It’s now on a mission to build 40 more megachurches in the next ten years.

Pastor Dr Satish Kumar is the pastor of Calvary Temple. From the humblest of beginnings in 2005, it has grown to more than 300,000 members today. Now, with eleven satellite churches, it’s India’s largest church – and one of the biggest in the world.

But Pastor Kumar has no room for complacency and contentment. Instead, he has plans to begin 40 new mega-churches in the next ten years.

With the church seeing 3,000 new believers every month, there is every indication such an ambitious plan will come to fruition.

It’s a Time to Grow: Current Church Expansion

Calvary Temple’s main campus is located in the state of Telangana’s capital city, Hyderabad. The main centre has three structures holding 18,000, 15,000 and 3,000 people. Thousands more watch on TV.

Every week, five services are held on a Sunday, with the first one beginning at 6 a.m.

From 4 a.m., streams of people crowd the streets around the church’s premises in Hyderabad, wanting to ensure they will have a seat.

Pastor Kumar preaches at all five services, with the last one finishing at 8 pm.

“I’ve been given the grace to pastor this church,” Pastor Kumar remarks, “which practises the Word of God, which is beyond my dream and imagination.”

“God put a burden in my heart to establish 40 mega churches just like what you see here during the next ten years.”

Pastor Kumar’s heart is for the more than 1.3 billion people in India who do not know Christ. “God’s hand is upon India; it’s a time for India to reach the lost, not only within the country, [but] across the globe.”

Pastor Kumar Preaching at Dr David Jeremiah’s Shadow Mountain Community Church

Keys for Growth

Dr Satish Kumar puts the growth of the church down to preaching and practising the Word of God. He explains,

“Preaching the pure Word of God is what attracts people and practising the Word of God is what keeps people within the church.”

Visible demonstrations of the love of God are easy to see. The church runs an extensive Sunday food programme, providing free breakfast, lunch and dinner meals for 50,000 people every week.

Narayana Podhili leads a team of 150 people who volunteer to prepare these 150,000 meals. During the week, Podhili works as a civil engineer. On Sunday, his day begins around 3:30 a.m. and finishes in the late evening.

One of the volunteers is named Nagavalli Mendem, who has served in the Calvary Temple kitchen for seven years. She made a promise that if God healed her from cancer, she would serve in the church. She explains her miraculous healing seven years ago like this: “God healed me completely. Without surgery, God cleared the tumour in my chest. As a thanksgiving to Him, I serve here in the Lord’s house.”

Pastor Kumar lives by the phrase, “Service to mankind is service to God.” He continues, “That is what we try to practice. We try to show God’s love in action in every possible way that we find.”

Another integral part of the church’s growth is prayer. Since 2005, the church has held an annual time of 40 days of prayer and fasting. Tens of thousands of young participants flock to stadiums around India to be a part of this prayer and fasting movement.

In addition to the yearly event, each month, the church holds a night dedicated to praying for revival. About 25,000–30,000 people join together to pray for gospel expansion, making it the largest all-night prayer service in India.

Persecution and the Growth of the Gospel

Recent years have seen a great increase in violence against Christians. Most attacks are carried out by Hindu extremist groups who view Christianity as a ‘foreign’ religion.

Earlier this year, the Daily Declaration published a horrific but vitally important report into the bloody persecution and execution of thousands of Indian Christians.

Motivated to keep India ethnically and religiously pure, groups of militant Hindu nationalists brutally tortured, raped and beat Christians to death.

The Indian government turns a blind eye and even promotes this violence.

A pastor in the southern coastal region of Andhra Pradesh told the Daily Declaration that the persecution was driven by fear. Fear that Christianity is growing so quickly.

“Christianity is spreading so fast,” this pastor said.

“A lot of people are accepting Jesus and leaving their idol worship. This brings a lot of fear to Hindus who are afraid that if people keep converting to Christianity, Hindus will one day become a minority and they will lose India.”

With this assessment, Pastor Kumar from Calvary Temple agrees.

“The more the persecution, the more the church grows. And that’s what’s happening in India.

“It’s my passion and burden that before I die, I want… every Indian to hear the gospel and know the Saviour.”

With a population of over 1.4 billion, India’s Christians are a small minority at just over 69 million people.

However, if the growth of Calvary Temple from two dozen people 18 years ago is anything to go by, the Holy Spirit is very interested in seeing that number increase significantly.

And with faithful Christians in India continuing to serve Jesus despite facing some of the most severe situations on earth, God is equipping His Church to do just that.

___

Photo by Calvary Temple.

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9 Comments

  1. Jim Twelves 22 December 2023 at 8:59 am - Reply

    Sam, a tremendous good news story. Thank you so much. Good news in more than one sense!

  2. Stef Mainey 22 December 2023 at 9:08 am - Reply

    Thank you for this incredible story of growth, Samuel. Where persecution is fiercest, the growth is the strongest. May the church in India continue to arise in God’s power and be strengthened with the Truth of His Word.

  3. Nathaniel Marsh 22 December 2023 at 10:42 am - Reply

    Wow! God is so good! Great work Sam – Please keep these good news stories coming my friend!

  4. Anna Soh 22 December 2023 at 7:19 pm - Reply

    Working with Impact Nations we do hear about their growth in India too despite the persecution. The churches in India that are growing are based on not only teaching God’s word but also living it out. Prayer is an integral part of their way of life and ministry, and the fruit is in the amazing miracles and their dedication to the Great Commission.

    Praying that we here in Australia learn what Billy Graham said about prayer being the most powerful weapon against the forces of evil and oppression.

  5. Maureen 22 December 2023 at 9:03 pm - Reply

    Awesome what God is doing through this Church and its people. Praise God.!! 🙏🙏❤️❤️

  6. Maureen 22 December 2023 at 9:05 pm - Reply

    Go God You can Save the Nation of India!’

  7. Trina Watson 23 December 2023 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    Wow! What a wonderful story! It’s interesting that the Church in Australia sent missionaries to India, and now its likely that they will reciprocate by sending missionaries to Australia!

  8. Ian Moncrieff 23 December 2023 at 9:43 pm - Reply

    Glory to God for this wonderful example of the power the Gospel. Faith, with works, is alive.!

  9. Countess Antonia Maria Violetta Scrivanich 25 December 2023 at 11:14 am - Reply

    Wonderful ! Thank you, God !

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