In the American church today, we really like addition. We are encouraged to invite our friends to church services, bibles studies, campus ministry meetings, etc. We even hold social events specifically as means to invite our friends into the church. However, Jesus plan for the kingdom of heaven sounds a lot more like multiplication than addition.
From Follower to Fisher
“Come follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people” –Matthew 4:19
This is a two part command. First, Jesus wants us to follow him, commit our lives to him, and walk with him daily. Then, immediately afterward, he sends us out to “fish for people.” Jesus was talking to fishermen, so he spoke in terms that they understood. Just as they brought fish into the boat, so they were to bring people into the Kingdom. But that still doesn’t address the issue of multiplication vs. addition.
Famous Last Words
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” –Matthew 28:19-20
This is the last thing Jesus told his followers after his resurrection and before he left Earth. The main things I want to focus on are make disciples and teaching them to obey. Making disciples is a lot different than making converts, and teaching them to obey involves a lot more than inviting them to a Christian event. This is where multiplication comes into the picture.
One of the main commands we are to teach new disciples (followers) of Jesus to obey is this: how to make disciples! When they start obeying, making more disciples, and teaching them to obey, multiplication really begins to happen.
Yielding a Crop
“Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than what was sown” -Luke 8:8
Jesus talks about a multiplication of 100 times what was sown. I interpret that this way: for every person I share the Gospel with, if they are “good soil” that yields a crop, potentially 100 people could start following Jesus through that one person. That seems crazy, astounding, incredible, supernatural. That’s because it is.
The Power of Multiplication
Let’s compare the difference between multiplication and addition. If I invite 1 person to my campus ministry of 50 people, there are 51 of us. My friend may or may not start following Jesus, and even if he does, he will do just what I did, and invite 1 friend to the meeting. 50,51,52,53,…. it makes for pretty slow growth.
However, If I make 1 disciple, now there are 2 believers. My new brother in Christ may or may not join my campus ministry or church, it’s really up to him. But if he and I are both obeying Jesus and each of us make 1 other disciple, that’s 4. Here’s the power of multiplication:
Do you see the power of multiplication starting to work? Instead of adding more believers to an existing group, we see generations of people coming to faith. What if God starting doing that on your campus or in your church? How can you reorient your ministry to focus on multiplication rather than addition? How can you set your sails so that when the wind of the Spirit blows, you will move with it rather than against it?