A New Way to Count

Peter Tan-Chi knew the ups and downs of life as a businessman. His family had owned the largest textile mill in the Philippines as well as a polyester and chemical plant, but they lost a substantial part of their business when the political environment changed. As Tan-Chi went from being vice president to being jobless, he had to choose between becoming bitter or trusting God.

“I made the decision just to trust God,” he says. 

Eventually, God in his faithfulness opened new doors, and Tan-Chi was able to start a successful housing-development business. God also put on his heart the desire to reach others for Christ.

In 1982, Tan-Chi and his wife Deonna started an evangelistic Bible study, but only two couples came. Was this a false start—or the beginning of something? Tan-Chi again trusted God. Within weeks, their Bible study became so crowded that they had to move the overflow into the garage. At the two-year mark, a church—Christ’s Commission Fellowship—was born.

“Christianity is one generation away from extinction, so we put a lot of focus on discipling families.”

In the years since, Christ’s Commission has grown to involve more than 50,000 people across multiple locations in metro Manila. It also has expanded into more than 25 countries, marked by thousands of disciple-multiplying Bible studies, much like the one Tan-Chi initially started. An additional 35,000 to 40,000 groups are in closed countries.

The main campus has seating for around 10,000 people, providing the largest seating capacity of any church in the country. It holds multiple services every Sunday, but the greater emphasis is on what happens in families and in the system of small groups, with most of those activities occurring far beyond the church walls.

Big Mission, Bigger Vision

Most churches have a mission statement, a vision statement or both. Typically, these are a combination of the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. The mission statement of Christ’s Commission Fellowship goes one step further than many by underscoring multiple generations of impact: “To honor God and make Christ-committed followers who will make Christ-committed followers.” 

If this passing-it-on emphasis occurs, the church’s far-reaching vision also will happen: “To see a movement of millions of committed followers of the Lord Jesus Christ meeting in small groups and transforming lives, families, communities and nations, for the glory of God.”

“Healthy families make a healthy church, and healthy churches make a healthy society.”

“From the beginning, God impressed discipleship on my heart as at the heart of being a New Testament church,” Tan-Chi says. “Based on Matthew 28’s call to make disciples, I wanted to train the church to engage unbelievers, evangelize them, equip them and then empower them.” 

Doing so put the ministry emphasis on the people of the church. “Lay involvement is one of the most neglected powers,” he says. 

The Importance of Family

Discipleship, as Tan-Chi understands Scripture, must be first applied in the home. 

“I’ve seen too many leaders whose children don’t walk with the Lord,” he says. “As someone said, Christianity is always one generation away from extinction, so we put a lot of focus on discipling families. If children are having problems, we tell leaders to take a break.

“Many of our people are professionals, and they are busy. I want them to have time with their families,” Tan-Chi says. “I tell our business owners, ‘You are the pastor of your company and also of your family.’”

“We stopped counting members. Instead, we count small groups and leaders.” 

When Tan-Chi looks to the Bible’s measures of success, he often explores becoming more Christlike through family life. 

“Our focus on character quickly goes to your relationships at home,” he says. “We work on this both with our staff as well as with our members.” 

While this discipleship focus at home has been dynamite, according to Tan-Chi, it doesn’t happen instantly. However, it remains vital.

“Healthy families make a healthy church, and healthy churches make a healthy society,” he summarizes. Healthy family discipleship also demonstrates the idea of making disciples who make disciples at home—such as parents discipling their children and even their grandchildren in ministry. 

Small Groups and Leaders

Even as senior pastor of a global movement, Tan-Chi models discipleship. “I disciple leaders, and they disciple leaders.” When he talks with staff, he asks, “Where are your disciples? Is your small group multiplying?” 

Sunday worship and teaching are foundational at Christ’s Commission Fellowship, but they are largely seen as equipping for all that happens outside of the church. 

“We stopped counting members,” Tan-Chi explains. “Instead, we count small groups and leaders.” 

Specifically, the measurement of a group leader’s success comes down to multiplication, which doesn’t happen automatically. “It must be purposeful,” Tan-Chi explains.

“Belief in discipleship is so strong that church services do not include the passing of offering plates.”

Belief in discipleship is so strong that church services do not include the passing of offering plates. “We are not dependent on the big meeting in order to have enough money,” he says. “If you disciple people, the rest will follow.”

Likewise, Tan-Chi is part of an annual 360-degree evaluation where the key men in his life, his wife and his children all play a role in helping strengthen his character. “You can see why my heart is into family and discipleship,” he says. “It’s so basic.”

The preaching by Tan-Chi and his team is centered on the Word. “I think God is doing something powerful,” he says. “He’s calling laymen to focus on the basics of discipleship. If you talk about Jesus in the way he relates to people, you will see many styles, but all are centered around discipleship.” 


Manila, Philippines

Pastor: Peter Tan-Chi

Website: CCF.org.ph

Founded: 1984

Attendance (pre-pandemic): 100,000

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