Pastor Shares Jesus’ Strategy for Reaching World, Disciple Multiplication

Jimmy Tam, pastor at Sunrise Christian Community in Los Angeles, preached a sermon titled "Jesus Strategy for Reaching the World" on December 29, 2021, the second day of the CMC Global 2021.
Jimmy Tam, pastor at Sunrise Christian Community in Los Angeles, preached a sermon titled "Jesus Strategy for Reaching the World" on December 29, 2021, the second day of the CMC Global 2021. (photo: Screenshot/Chinese Mission Convention Global 2021)
By Grace Song March 15th, 2022

A pastor urged churches to make disciples rathern than pursue growth alone. 

In his plenary session of the Chinese Mission Convention held on December 29, 2021, Jimmy Tam, Pastor at Sunrise Christian Community in Los Angeles, shared an evangelizing strategy designed by Jesus, by investigating passages in the Gospel of Matthew. 

Pastor Tam spoke on the second day of the Chinese Mission Convention, a ministry established in 1983 dedicated to the vision of “multiplying healthy churches locally and globally”, whose theme for 2021 was “Faithful and Fruitful”. Titled “Jesus Strategy for Reaching the World”, this pastor and missionary pointed Christians to the strategy that Jesus designed for changing the world after he himself ascended to heaven.

Having been a pastor for over twenty years, Pastor Tam shared his own experience of shifting from pursuing church growth to disciple making. For over ten years, Pastor Tam has been focusing on attracting new church attenders using various ways such as holding all sorts of special events, until about 7 years ago a missionary helped him realize that Jesus made disciples in a completely different way.

He reflected that the traditional church expansion strategies more or less failed to work during the pandemic because the traditional church model functioned best only in a free country during a peaceful time. Yet during the period of the pandemic when people were in fear and anxiety about the future, the important thing was, instead of drawing people to the church, that “the people of God, Christians, and disciples of Jesus should be the light.”

Pastor Tam explained that this disciple-making strategy is “about partnering with the Holy Spirit: how to find the right people that He has prepared, that the Holy Spirit is already working in their lives. You just need to partner with the Holy Spirit to see how you can minister to them and let them experience Jesus.”

The pastor turned to Matthew 4:18-20 to explain the strategy that Jesus designed for his disciples to continue to evangelize to the world after he was lifted to heaven.

“While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him.”

The lead strategist of a disciple multiplication network and the house of prayer explained, “First of all, what is a disciple? Jesus very simply said two things: follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. So two things define a disciple. A disciple follows Jesus, intimates Jesus, and obeys Jesus; and Jesus wants all of his disciples not only to follow him but also to fish for people: to make disciples.” 

“In Jesus’ three and half a year ministry, he modeled this strategy. He showed how his disciples can continue what he did. It’s a strategy of disciples making disciples, for every single disciple to continue his mission.” Pastor Tam said, “It’s a strategy that he intentionally trained his disciples and modeled for them so that when he went back to the Father, they knew exactly what they needed to do.”

Simple as it is, this strategy wwas by no means easy. “’Follow me’ is a simple and direct command, but it’s not easy to obey this command”, he added.

And yet, the second part “to make disciples” had been even more often ignored. Pastor Tam stressed that making disciples was different from discipleship training, but “is being on mission for Jesus, continuing his mission to change the world. For me, that is the definition of a church - a community of disciples on a mission together.”

By looking at Matt 7:24-27, Pastor Tam illustrated a third criterion for being a disciple. Through this “build your house on the rock” passage, he pointed out that true disciples not only gained knowledge of God - which had been a main focus of conventional discipleship training - but also obeyed God’s words.

Pastor Tam remembered that by using the Discovery Bible Study, they did not teach just for the sake of knowledge, but were able to train people, model people, and hold people accountable to obey the word of God. “Every time we read God’s word together, we hold each other accountable to obey God’s word.”

From Matt 9:35-38, Pastor Tam concluded the “where, who, what and how” elements in Jesus’ disciple-making movement. Jesus traveled from place to place to proclaim the gospel to people with needs, who were harassed and helpless, who were willing to see God. Apart from preaching the word, Jesus also healed every disease and affliction. Helping people experience the power of God by means of healing still remained an important ministry. Additionally, each Christian should be willing to be sent out to the field of harvest.

“The Lord doesn’t want us just to stay in the church. Instead, he said to ask the Lord of the harvest to send out his workers. Not just the missionaries, pastors or leaders, but every single disciple of Jesus should obey him and say ‘Jesus I want to be part of your strategy to change the world, I want to see a movement of disciple making disciples and I want to make my life count for your Kingdom,” claimed the pastor who has spent recent years doing mission work among Syrian refugees in the Middle East.

Pastor Tam urged, “It’s for everybody. The only thing Jesus wants from you right now - he said - pray to him, respond and obey. He said not just hear my word, but you have to practice my word.”

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