There have been hundreds of books written on mission strategies, church growth, and church programs. These resources offer valuable advice and strategic plans to engage our communities with the good news of Jesus. But how did Jesus start His public ministry? What was His church growth strategy?
Jesus chose the public proclamation of the gospel as the primary strategy for advancing His kingdom.
The gospel of Mark gives us an insight into the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus. In Mark chapter one, Jesus finds Himself in a strained situation. Jesus has been performing miracles and healing the sick, and casting out demons (Mark 1:32-34). As the news of His power spread throughout the town, a large crowd began to gather. The next day, in the early morning, Jesus arose and went to a secluded place to pray. As the crowd arose to bring their sick and needy to Jesus, He was not to be found. This sent the disciples into a nervous frenzy trying to find Him (Mark 1:36). After searching for some time, they found him and said “everyone is looking for you” but Jesus replied to the disciples “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach/proclaim there also, for that is why I came out” (Mark 1:37).
This is a curious situation. Jesus has a large crowd of the sick and afflicted waiting on Him. Yet when His disciples try to persuade Him to return to the crowd, Jesus says something unexpected. “Let us go on to the next town, that I might proclaim there also, for that is why I came.” Jesus seems to be uninterested in the crowd awaiting Him. Why is He so concerned about getting to the next town and proclaiming the gospel?
This story captures the heart of Jesus’ preaching ministry. Jesus did not come just to heal the sick, but to tell the sick of a divine healer. Jesus did not come to feed the hungry, but to tell the hungry of a place where they can be forever satisfied. He did not come to give water to the thirsty, but to proclaim that there is a better fountain that gives everlasting life. Jesus proclaimed the gospel, because this good news is the only thing that can heal the soul, cast out demons, satisfy the hungry, and bring the dead to life. For what good would it do to physically heal someone and let their soul perish? It would be vanity.
Therefore, Jesus has chosen the public proclamation of the gospel as the primary strategy of kingdom advancement.
This applies to the church today. Jesus did heal the sick. He did give sight to the blind, and He did feed the hungry. Jesus met the felt needs of those who came to Him. However, the church growth movement, according to Jesus, revolved around the public proclamation of the gospel. Our churches should seek to feed the poor, give clothes to those who are in need, and offer help to those who ask. But like Jesus, we should keep the important things important. Jesus has chosen the public proclamation of the gospel as the primary strategy for advancing His kingdom.
Let us strive to keep the proclamation of gospel of Jesus Christ at the center of our mission strategies in our communities and around the world.