Remember your favorite teacher? She showed you how the lesson applied to everyday life. Maybe he helped you to experience his passion for a subject firsthand.
But even good teachers rarely expect their pupils to become the teacher and pass the knowledge and passion onto someone else.
But God does. He put this multiplying – “pass-along” principle into His creation. Why? God never intended that any living thing He created should just be born to live and then to die.
When it comes to evangelism, it’s not enough to make converts and teach them the basics of the faith; we need to make sure that each one we reach can pass on the life of the kingdom to others who can pass it on to others.
The first 2 commands that God gave mankind were “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). He was saying, “I want more like you — lots more!”
Jesus Christ demonstrated the principle several times, not the least when He gave us the Great Commission: “… teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matthew 28:20, emphasis mine).
In other words, Jesus told His disciples to teach their disciples everything He first taught them. And look what happened: “Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied” (Acts 6:7, New King James Version).
In only a few years, they had “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6, NKJV). Take notice: This was without the benefit of radio, TV, the printing press or the Internet.
Instead, the responsibility was borne by each individual.
Consider the apostle Paul’s strategic mission statement in 2 Timothy 2:2. He didn’t limit himself to developing a doctrinally sound, well-trained Timothy.
Instead, Paul was looking 2 generations beyond his young disciple: “The things which you [second generation] have heard from me [first generation] in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men [third generation] who will be able to teach others also [fourth generation].”
Let’s have a race. But we won’t match athletes or cars; we’ll match strategies. The finish line for our race? Winning all 6 billion people in the world to Jesus Christ.
One competitor will be “Reach the World by Addition.” With this strategy, we will equip a church to add 1,000 people to heaven’s roll every year. No, wait — let’s think big: Let’s equip 10,000 churches to accomplish this supernatural goal every year.
Our other competitor will be…one guy. Meet Joe Multiplier, one lone fellow who decides to lead one person to Christ every year, disciple the new believer and train him how to do the same with someone else. By teaching others to become teachers, Joe will multiply himself.
You might be thinking, “No contest! Poor Joe is going to get smoked!” Well, do the math. The addition strategy, as impressive as it looks on the surface, will take 600 years to reach the world, and that’s assuming a zero population-growth rate.
But since statistics suggest that we’re currently adding 135 million to the world’s population each year, the followers of the addition strategy will actually never reach the finish line.
Joe’s strategy, on the other hand, will surpass it. Surely, he starts slow: After one year, there are only 2 disciples. At the end of the second year, 4. Third year, there are 8 followers of Jesus. Fourth year, 16. However, by year 33, you will have more than 8.5 billion Christians.
Worried about the population explosion? No problem — we’ll be at 34 billion Christians just 2 years later. Can you see the powerful potential of a ministry of multiplication, compared to one of addition?
Think about what we’re producing with the first strategy above. When we’re busy cranking out 1,000 converts a year in a church, we don’t have much time, energy or people to pay attention to their spiritual growth.
But Joe Multiplier, and those he has led to Christ and mentored, will spend quality time with each and every “baby” to make sure they are firmly grounded in their faith and able to pass it on to others. Each one becomes a new fountainhead of growth and reproduction.
Yes, this takes time, but quality always does.
In the 21st century, we demand production, numbers and results now. We are the microwave generation. But we must realize that the Eternal One still prefers the Crock-Pot.
His ways are always the best; He has eternity in mind. So, how do I begin a ministry of spiritual multiplication?
Never forget that God is infinitely more concerned with growth and reproduction than you could ever be. He causes and directs the growth, and generates spiritual transformation. And the most amazing thing of all is that He invites you to join in partnership with Him. So ask God what to do, who to begin investing your time in and how to start. As you begin working with someone, pray every day for love, discernment and direction.
The DNA of spiritual multiplication is disciplemaking. There are many great books that will inspire and inform you regarding how to engage in this vital, one-to-one or small-group ministry. For example, Robert Coleman’s The Master Plan of Evangelism, Bill Bright’s How You Can Help Fulfill the Great Commission and my own Personal Disciplemaking have proven helpful to many people.
- Find a “Barnabas”
Paul built into Timothy’s life, but for many years Barnabas built into Paul’s. There is no better way to learn how to be a spiritual multiplier than to be on the receiving end of a multiplier’s ministry. Find a more mature man or woman who would be willing and able to mentor you.
- Have a plan
What will you do with your disciples? Teach them to study the Bible and apply it to their lives, but interact with all areas of their lives. Start out with a good, foundational Bible study, such as Campus Crusade for Christ’s 10 Basic Steps Toward Spiritual Maturity, Priority Associates’ Practical Christian Living or Disciplemakers International’s Connecting With God.
- Talk about it — a lot
Don’t let the disciple forget that he is not meant to be a dead end, but a freeway. God wants to travel to many others through him and help them grow to maturity. That’s not the model of teaching we are used to, so you will need to frequently remind him of the pass-along principle.
God’s ministry method down through the ages has always been for us to work with the few to reach the many: “The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation” (Isaiah 60:22, New International Version). God wants to multiply His life a thousand-fold, and He wants to do it through you.