When I arrived in northern Maine almost eight years ago I realized a couple of southern guys with church growth tactics weren’t going to get the job done. We knew a major dependence on prayer and the Holy Spirit would be the real necessity for lives changed through Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We would also have to be devoted to multiplying ourselves among the people who already lived here and knew the culture. Relying on this local wisdom and leadership has proven invaluable to my sanity, my family and to serving with the faithful members of Calvary Baptist Church in Caribou, Maine.
Multiplication has been a central thread woven throughout history. It was a mandate given by God in the Garden of Eden and it is at the core of how Jesus established His Church on earth. Following His lead and multiplying disciples in the local church puts more missionaries in the field. These are missionaries who understand the culture, can speak the language and who have natural connections. This allows my work as a pastor to be exponentially strengthened.
There are plenty of reasons I believe multiplication is at the heart of gospel ministry. Here are four that have really stood out in my study of the Bible and in the realities of my ministry as a pastor here in northern Maine.
Jesus Commands It
During my time in seminary and beyond, I’ve heard theologian and thought leader Dr. Daniel Akin say many times that “last words are lasting words.” And when those words are found in scripture, spoken by the Son of God before ascending into heaven, they carry special weight for us on earth. We call these last words The Great Commission.
The Great Commission isn’t just for pastors. It is for every follower of Jesus. But if we are going to lead a congregation to multiply, it must begin with us. Making disciples is about taking the Gospel and investing it in someone else who will teach others and who will teach others. This is how multiplication begins and continues.
Jesus Did It
Jesus didn’t settle for mere addition. He didn’t come so that a few might know Him. He came so that every tribe, tongue and nation could hear and proclaim the glory of His Father. To accomplish this, He multiplied himself into a few, so that billions could one day know the truth of the Gospel.
If we are to make Jesus’ name known in places that it has never been heard, we must think larger than our congregation. We must believe that, by the Power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus wants more for His Church and he is calling you to multiply yourself into a few people at a time. By living this way, your impact will go far beyond your wildest dreams and into eternity.
The Need Is Great
If the weight of eternity doesn’t motivate us then we need to examine our hearts and our callings, because there is something wrong. With so many people who have never even heard the name of Jesus, we must work harder and faster. If we are going to fulfill the Great Commission, we cannot rely on professional missionaries and pastors. The world needs to see and experience the Gospel through the people of God living and making disciples in everyday life. God is worthy of the praise of every person in the world and His people should live in a way that proves this truth. Multiplication is the fruit of people experiencing the truth of the Gospel in word and in deed.
Multiplication Creates More Leaders
Jesus has not given us a solo mission. He has given us His Co-mission. His command to make disciples was given to all believers and was to be accomplished in the community of local congregations. The most important person involved is the Holy Spirit, but making disciples is always a team sport among believers.
As we multiply ourselves in others, we send them out as we were sent. In this we are to be spiritual parents, bringing spiritual children up in the faith. Healthy children should, in turn, be able to have healthy children who in turn should be able to have healthy children. While this isn’t always true with our biological selves, it is always true of healthy spiritual children.
And the health of our spiritual children should not only be measured by the strength of their doctrine or by their talent behind the pulpit or by how well they communicate the truths of scripture in teaching and counseling. While these are all of vital importance to the health of our ministry, what really will stand the test of eternity is whether all that doctrine, talent and skill was multiplied in others for the building of God’s Kingdom.