Tuesday, April 16, 2024
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
HomeAll The NewsMethods of Multiplication Matter

Methods of Multiplication Matter

By Dr. John David Smith, President • BMAA Missions

Graphic: MW Methods of Multiplication

By Dr. John David Smith, President • BMAA Missions

         Methods of multiplication matter! Jesus both commanded and exemplified multiplication, so does that mean we can do whatever we want and use whatever means necessary to increase our numbers? That would be a resounding, No!

         First of all, our mandate is not to merely increase our numbers; we are commanded to make disciples (followers). Those are drastically different goals.

         Second, we cannot conflate our mission with our methods. Often our methods become the focus to the exclusion of our mission.

         Think about “anointed methodologies” emphasized in the past 100 years. Tent revivals were a result of the Layman’s Prayer Revival in the 1800s and lasted for a century in various styles. Then it was discovered that television promised even larger crowds, and people preferred air conditioning. Bus ministry was widely used in the 60s and early 70s, but oil prices rose, and the use of buses mostly went away. Recently, and still very much utilized, small group ministry (in some form) is probably the anointed methodology.

         You get the picture. Methodologies come and go. They can certainly be used by God but could also be driven by unbridled pragmatism (results driven) to living in a theological echo chamber. The common denominator is that our mission goes unfulfilled as we parade down Main Street on the latest and greatest methodological bandwagon.

         Perhaps the closest we come in the Word to seeing a merger of mission and methodology is in the command to make disciple makers in all nations! While the Bible does not advocate a specific discipleship platform (which could potentially become another distraction from the mission when reduced to programs and information exchanges), it clearly commands and illustrates discipleship-based multiplication.

         Multiplication is an expectation in God’s Word. As noted, there is superficial multiplication that is humanly generated and genuine multiplication that is God generated. Jesus, in teaching His disciples, utilized metaphors from everyday life, primarily using four metaphors: fishing, farming, shepherding and vine dressing (vineyards). All four of them have various lessons attached, but multiplication is common to all.

         Jesus multiplied disciples as the primary expression of His earthly ministry. 

         Paul spent his ministry carrying out discipleship-based multiplication. In the 33 short years covered by the book of Acts, the gospel advanced from Jerusalem to Syria across Asia Minor into Greece and arrived in Rome! Paul helped plant at least 16 churches, not to mention the churches his team members planted! Multiplication is the expectation!

         Two passages stand out in emphasizing discipleship: John 14 and I Thessalonians 2. In John 14 Jesus speaks to His disciples, telling them not to let their hearts be troubled. Jesus comforted them at the news He was going away. He then corrected them when Philip expressed that they didn’t know where Jesus was going. Last, He challenged them, saying if they continued what they were doing, they would do greater things than He had done.

         In I Thessalonians 2, Paul told believers in Thessalonica that he and his team were focused on maturing their faith, serving them as nurturing mothers, personally investing in their lives, modeling the faith, correcting them as loving fathers and encouraging them to walk worthy of God.

         Here is a bullet point list of disciple-making principles from the two passages:

         • Discipleship demands a personal investment.

         • Discipleship means I help carry emotional baggage at times.

         • Discipleship means to constantly build foundations on the Word.

         • Discipleship means to model the way.

         • Discipleship means to see success in the lives of others who serve the Lord.

         • Discipleship is intentional, not accidental.

         • Discipleship sometimes offers a hug and sometimes a stern correction.

         • Discipleship has as a goal to make a disciple maker.

         Although not an exhaustive list, it is a great picture of how Jesus and Paul carried out the mission to make disciples in all nations. BMA Global Missions is committed to discipleship-based multiplication.

         Here is our value statement: “The entire context of the New Testament is one of multiplication. All healthy believers and churches will multiply. The multiplication of disciples is the most important factor in the formula for multiplication.”