Whenever we only seek to train a single generation, we have missed the point of discipleship. By nature, discipleship should be multiplicative. We are at our best when we are disciple-makers making disciple-makers. Here are eight ideas that will help you lead your church toward multiplicative discipleship.
1. Replication Mindset
2 Timothy 2:2 reads,
“And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
Paul’s teaching to Timothy was not done in isolation. Rather, it was to be repeated. We need the reminder that though the mission of God included you, it did not end with you. Lead your church by engendering a mindset that focuses on multiple generations of disciples.
2. Define Your Terms
In the Great Commission, Jesus commanded us to “make disciples of all nations.” However, we toss about the term “disciple” as if anyone really knows what it means. As a leader, help your church to identify and define what they mean when using the term.
3. Teach that the Gospel is Enough
The gospel is both comforting and divisive. Paul wrote that “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is God’s power to us who are being saved” (1 Corinthians 1:18). Though many other religious impulses will jockey for position, only the gospel is worth our time.
4. Discipleship is Relational
By its very nature, discipleship is about relating to someone. We know that salvation is about God personally redeeming our relationship with him. It is also about our connection with His people. Paul described Timothy as his son (2 Timothy 2:1). But remember: Relationships are messy and discipleship demands you master the art of “delayed gratification.”
5. Impart Key Skills
Though many skills are needed in the life of a disciple, I think two key skills are most necessary:
- How to study the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16)
- How to Pray (Luke 11:1)
Notice that I did not state that disciples need to study the Scriptures and disciples need to pray. They should learn how to practice these disciplines. Lead people to be self-feeders so they can lead others rather than lean on you.
6. Engender an Eternal Perspective of People
Take some time to compare the attitudes of Jonah (4:1-2), Jesus (Luke 19:41-42), and Paul (Romans 9:3). Jonah wanted the pagans destroyed. Jesus wept over those who were lost. Paul exaggerates his point to say that he would personally face Hell if all of the Hebrews could know salvation. When we see people in light of eternity, multiplicative discipleship becomes our only option.
7. Holy Jealousy
Jealousy is normally associated with sin. Paul reminds us that we need to be jealous for the church like a husband is for his wife. He said,
“I wish you would put up with a little foolishness from me. Yes, do put up with me. For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy, because I have promised you in marriage to one husband—to present a pure virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:1-2).
Show your church what it looks like to have a leader who deeply cares for their holiness. It is a powerful role that they will want to repeat for others.
8. Evaluate Constantly
Acts 20:22-24 have become banner verses for me.
And now I am on my way to Jerusalem, bound in my spirit, not knowing what I will encounter there, except that in town after town the Holy Spirit testifies to me that chains and afflictions are waiting for me. But I count my life of no value to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace.
The only way to know if you are hitting a mark is if you set a mark. For me (and not necessarily for you), the statement by Paul about the value of his life and ministry help set things in perspective. For multiplication to take place, people need to see that you are progressing toward something. More than that, you need to bring them along. Set your mark as Christ and begin leading people toward Him.
Philip Nation is the Director of Content Development with Lifeway, and serves as Teaching Pastor for The Fellowship, a multi-campus church in Nashville, TN. His latest book is Habits for Our Holiness: How the Spiritual Disciplines Grow Us Up, Draw Us Together, and Send Us Out. He is also the coauthor of Compelled: Living the Mission of God and Transformational Discipleship: How People Really Grow.