I’ve been involved in several local churches over the years as both a layman and pastor. For most of that time, I could count on one hand the number of discipleship leaders I know who have actually multiplied more than one generation of disciples. The vast majority of discipleship leaders I have known have made disciples but not multiplied disciples. Is someone really a fully trained disciple if he or she does not go on to multiply more disciples?
Great leaders who multiply the mission are leaders who help train disciples to start their own groups and disciple others. It is the same thing Paul experienced with his disciple, Timothy. Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:2, “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” Paul discipled Timothy. Timothy discipled faithful men. Faithful men discipled others.
The ultimate goal of disciple making is to see a movement of multiplication, not just a movement of addition. Paul was a great disciple making leader because he led Timothy to the point where he would go out and make more disciples who would make more disciples. If Paul had only discipled Timothy, it would have been a movement of addition. When Timothy discipled faithful men who discipled others, it became a movement of multiplication.
I often use the illustration of teaching a child to ride a bike as an example of disciple making. I taught three children how to ride a bicycle in my early days of parenting. My children have each mastered the activity. They may not be perfect riders, but they know how to ride and they can teach others how to ride. If my kids have kids of their own someday, I am guessing they will teach their kids how to ride a bike. If each of my three children had three children and they were taught how to ride bicycles, we would have over a dozen bike riders in the family. If that dozen continued to repeat the process with more children, we could be well into the hundreds of bike riders before we knew it. Imagine that. Teaching my children to ride a bicycle could eventually lead to a movement of thousands of bike riders.
It is easy to see how quickly a movement can grow if people in the movement stay faithful and committed to the process of reproduction. If we get too busy to teach others, some people may never learn how to ride a bike. In the case of disciple making, some people may never hear about Jesus. I want to encourage you to keep your hand to the plow. Stay focused on making disciples who make more disciples. Trust the process and stay focused on the plan. You will influence a countless number of people for Christ.
Impact Discipleship Ministries exists to inspire people and churches to be and build disciples. If we can assist you with training, resources, or coaching, please contact us and let us know how we can help.