Multiplying disciples should be important to us because it’s important to God
Multiplying Disciples in the Bible
Why is it important to talk about multiplying disciples? It’s because it’s something that’s important to God. The first command that God gave to mankind was be fruitful and multiply. This may be the best kept commandment that God ever gave, but unfortunately we’ve done a better job of it physically, than we have spiritually.
God gives the same command again to Noah’s family after the flood: Be fruitful and multiply. Then God talks about multiplying Abraham’s offspring, till they’re as numerous as the grains of sand on the seashore or this number of stars in the heavens.
We see the results of this happening spiritually in the future as God reveals to John the scene in heaven when the throne is surrounded by a multitude that no one can count from every people tribe tongue and nation. So multiplication is important to God.
A Story About Disciple Multiplication
I think we all realize the importance of multiplying disciples intellectually, but I want to tell you about the time for me when it moved from my head to my heart. My wife and I were serving among and unengaged people group on a an island off the south coast of China, adjacent to Vietnam.
And their language is introduced to writing, so you can’t go to language school for it. You just kind of have to pick it up. So I had this plan where I was going to start with two-year-olds, and then gradually talk to older and older people, until I could talk to adults.
Seemed like a good plan to me, but early on I went out into a village and I didn’t see any children anywhere. All I could see was one really old lady.
So I went up to her and I asked her grandmother, “How old are you?”
She said “I’m 97 years old”.
I said “Wow, that is old.”
She was pretty pleased with that, but I didn’t really know what to say next, so fortunately she picked up the conversation, and she told me “You are so tall”.
Tall was a new word for me, so I rehearsed that. I said, “Yes, I’m very tall.”
Then she said, “Your skin is so pale.”
These were new works for me “skin” and “pale”, so I rehearsed those, and said “Yes, my skin is very pale.”
Then she said, “Your nose is so big.”
And “nose” was a new word for me, so I’m rehearsing that word, and I said,
“Yes, my nose is very big.”
And then I was afraid that my head’s going to explode from too much new vocabulary, too fast.
So I’m looking for a way out of the conversation and I reach in my track to pull out a Chinese track, because some people that can read Chinese and she said no I can’t read.
I said, “Can your son?”
She said, “No, he can’t read. No one here can read.”
Converts or Disciples?
Suddenly, I felt very helpless. Clearly, my language skills were not sufficient to share the gospel with this woman.
There were no Christians I could refer her to or churches that I could introduce her to.
There were no Christian radio or television broadcasts in her language.
At first I consoled myself with the thought that eventually I would learn the language and I could share with people like this.
But then I realized that even if I led one person a day to the Lord from that point till I was old enough to retire, it would only be about 15,000 new converts.
This wouldn’t be a drop in the bucket for this people group of well over 6 million people.
And it wouldn’t even come close to keeping up with population growth.
Clearly that would not be sufficient, and I realized we don’t just need converts we need disciples.
Which means we need a church.
And I didn’t know how it was possible, but I thought that maybe by some miracle in these first five years I can lead enough people to the Lord, and train them to be church planting trainers or church planting teams and that these people I could form them into twenty different teams.
And every one of those teams maybe they could plant a church every year, if I would do that it would still take 250 years to get a minimum number of churches for this people group.
That wasn’t going to work either.
How Multiplying Disciples Can Be Done Practically
Then I realized if I could plant just one church and that church would multiply every year, and each daughter church would also multiply every year the entire place could be reached in just 17 years!
It turned out that that happened. In fact, it happened faster than 17 years.
The reason is that from that point, I decided to only focus on doing things that would result in making multiplying disciples and starting churches that multiply.
That’s the only way to get the job done. We may think, “Oh, that’s an extreme case, you know, in a very, very unreached place.”
But even here in the United States multiplication is necessary.
The way things are going we’re never going to reach our country. In fact, every year there are fewer professing Christians than the year before.
The percentage of practicing Christians is going down in every county in the United States.
The status quo is not sufficient. We cannot continue the way we are. We need multiplication.
More Multiplication Concepts
This concept is part of the “Multiplication Concepts” series by Curtis Sergeant. Consider working through the entire series and challenging someone you know to do it with you.
This same concept is taught in the Zúme Training course using video animation and is translated into 40 languages.
Zúme Training is an on-line and in-life learning experience designed for small groups who follow Jesus to learn how to obey His Great Commission and make multiplying disciples.