Multiplying Values

Great Commission leaders must be influencing those "allotted to your charge" to become multiplying leaders who will at the same time develop a multiplying strategy to reach the world for Christ.

When you think of difficult tasks, what comes to mind? Becoming a violin virtuoso? Competing in the Olympics? Building a house? Having a great marriage? Raising kids? Maybe it is patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time! Go ahead; try it. There are many difficult challenges in the world today. Life is not easy.

When it comes to the church, one of the most difficult challenges that Great Commission leaders face is the challenge of not only growing a quality group, but multiplying a healthy group. In the Bible, the goal of multiplication is clear. Consider these verses:

  1. Gen. 1:28 says, "God blessed them; and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth'."

  2. Gen. 17:2 - When Abraham is 99 years old, God gives the promise that He will, "multiply you exceedingly."

  3. Gen. 22:17 - God appears to Abraham again at the offering of Isaac and says, "Indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the seashore."

  4. Gen. 26:4; 24 - God appears to Isaac and gives the same promise to him, "And I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed."

  5. Gen. 35:11 - God reiterates the promise to Jacob after Jacob wrestles and prevails with the Angel of the Lord and says, "I am God Almighty; 'Be fruitful and multiply;' a nation and a company of nations shall come forth from you."

  6. Matt. 14:13-21; Mark 6:34-44; Luke 9:12-17; and John 6:5-13 – The Feeding of the 5,000 is based upon the miracle of multiplication. The only way to feed, to shepherd, and to care for the multitudes is through the miracle of multiplication.

  7. Matt. 15:32-39 and Mark 8:1-9 – The Feeding of the 4,000 is based upon the miracle of multiplication. It is interesting to note that this miracle was repeated twice by Jesus. Also the "Feeding of the 5,000" is recorded in all four Gospels. The "Feeding of the 4,000" is recorded in Matthew and Mark. Thus, six passages (47 verses) are devoted to the miracle of multiplication.

  8. Mark 4:1-34- In the parable of the soils, there are four types of soil: wayside soil, rocky soil, thorny soil, and receptive soil. If the Word of God finds good soil, the result is that it will yield a crop that multiplies "thirty-fold, sixty-fold, and a hundred-fold."

  9. Jesus says in John 15:8, "By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit." The analogy is simple: if you abide in Christ, you will bear a multiplicity of fruit.

  10. Acts 6:1; 7 - The number of disciples was growing exponentially. The New King James version translates the word 'plethuno' as "was multiplying" and 'eplethuneto' in verse 7 as "multiplied greatly." The only way to reach the world and make disciples of all the nations is through multiplication.

It is clear from these passages that multiplication was God's plan for blessing His people in the Old Testament, and it was God's plan for expanding His church in the New Testament. Could it be that multiplication is still God's plan for reaching the world and making disciples of all nations? I believe it is. The world is growing at an exponential rate, and any system or structure that is not based upon an exponential strategy is destined to fail. That is why we must design and develop disciples and churches that multiply!

The problem, or 'the rub,' comes when you discover that multiplication is not only difficult, but it goes against the grain of most people's desire for fellowship. I call it the "us four and no more" factor. Most people do not mind getting involved in a group and adding new members to the group. However, if you ask them to birth a new group, what they hear from you sounds like this: "Why don't you perform a 'c-section' on yourself without the benefit of anesthesia." So what can be done to overcome this enormous challenge? I believe we need to focus on three things:

  1. The Harvest: In John 4:35, Jesus says, "Do you not say, "There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest." In your community, there are multitudes that have never heard the gospel of Christ. Yet, we are content to minister to each other while the "ninety and nine" are "distressed and down cast like sheep without a shepherd." One of our most difficult challenges as Great Commission leaders is to keep the focus on the lost in a disciple making structure. Getting people to lift up their eyes (off themselves) and to focus on others is a challenge, but it is a worthwhile goal.

  2. Praying an hour a day. Joel Comiskey has studied groups that multiplied and the common denominator in groups that multiplied is this one fact: the leaders prayed on average an hour a day. Jesus asked a rhetorical question of his disciples in the Garden of Gethesemane, "Could you not watch with me for one hour?" I believe that multiplication in the spiritual world is no different than multiplication in the marital world. Multiplication is always the result of intimacy. As we spend time with God, we develop His heart, His eyes, and His desire to reach out to the lost and hurting. If we are not spending time with God, we will not develop His passion or His principles for reaching the world, which is multiplication.

  3. Making Disciples and Developing Leaders. Jesus said that when a "disciple is fully trained, he will be like his Master." Sometimes I ask this question in the classes that I teach at Liberty Theological Seminary, "How many of you want to be like Jesus?" Everyone who is paying attention raises his or her hand. Then, I ask, "Was Jesus a leader, yes or no?" The answer of course is yes. Jesus was a leader, but his leadership led to reaching people with the gospel and then helping them grow to the point where they also participated in the Great Commission. When a disciple is fully trained, he or she will be involved somehow and somewhere in the process of making disciples who develop into leaders who make disciples.

In a group setting this is difficult, but if you keep the focus on the harvest fields, on intimacy with God, and on developing disciples who produce leaders, it is possible. A basic definition of leadership is simply this: "influence." Great Commission leaders must be influencing those "allotted to your charge" to become multiplying leaders (patting your head) who will at the same time develop a multiplying strategy to reach the world for Christ (rubbing your stomach). The ultimate goal is to stand before Christ and hear from Him, "Well done, good and faithful servant!"

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