Lessons to be Learned from the Church in Asia – Part 3 (Tan-Chi’s "Church Growth Paradigm Shifts")


In my last blog post, I introduced you to Christ’s Commission Fellowship (CCF), a church in the Philippines that has grown over a period of 30 years from a small group Bible study of three couples to a church of more than 60,000 believers in over 50 satellites in the Philippines and beyond. I recently attended a meeting where Pastor Peter Tan-Chi (Senior Pastor of CCF) explained 8 paradigm shifts regarding church growth that have helped to guide the ministry of CCF over the years.

From Preaching to Disciple-making

Sunday morning sermons are not the focus of CCF pastors/leaders. Rather, the emphasis is on disciple-making – “Bringing people to Christ, building them up in faith toward Christ-likeness, for the purpose of spiritual multiplication, resulting in the glory of God.”

From Clergy to Laity

The majority of CCF’s ministries (including leadership positions) are carried out by volunteer laity rather than paid “professionals”. Our satellite, for example, with around three hundred adult worshipers each week in three worship services, does not have a paid pastor; our satellite head is a volunteer. It is regularly emphasized throughout CCF that ministry is the responsibility of every member and the percentage of attenders who are actively involved in some aspect of ministry is astounding. This commitment to challenge every member to ministry is deeply ingrained in CCF’s DNA as the senior pastor himself continued his job as a successful businessman while establishing CCF.

From Addition to Multiplication

CCF follows the principle of 2 Timothy 2:2 – “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Growth was very slow at first as the Tan-chis poured their lives into a few couples. Once these disciples were well established, though, the Tan-chis challenged each of them to find new couples to disciple in like manner. Eventually growth was exponential.

From Big Group to Small Group to Intentional Discipleship Group

CCF calls its small groups D-groups (discipleship groups). D-groups are the core of CCF and every member is challenged to be part of such a group, to lead their own group, and to challenge each of their D-group members to start their own group, too.

From Pastor to Husband/Wife Family Team

One of CCF’s eight core values is “Nurture Family Relationships.” While maintaining a strong commitment to the Biblical headship of men, CCF believes in husbands and wives serving together as a team.

From Classroom Training to On-the-Job Training

CCF does have its own classroom-type training program, but the emphasis is more on life-to-life training and practical application of all that is being learned through God’s word. D-group members have opportunities to practice leading the d-group meeting, and are soon encouraged to start their own.

From Program-Based to Relationship-Based

‘Success” is not found in a specific discipleship program. Relationship, vertical and horizontal, is the key to life-changing discipleship.

From Inward-focused to Outward-focused

The church, while it needs to meet the needs of those inside, must never lose its focus of reaching out to a lost world.

The bottom line though, as Pastor Peter says, is PRAYER and DEPENDENCE on God. John 15:5 – “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”  I write this blog post, praying that you will be encouraged by CCF’s story and find some principle(s) that you can apply, in prayer and dependence on God, to your own disciple-making story.

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