Think Like a Multiplier
Look two generations ahead.
I’m assuming that no one wants to merely make disciples but instead hopes to make disciples who make disciples. That way, instead of adding disciples, we’re multiplying them. A multiplier’s joy is helping someone else become wildly successful.
To think like a multiplier, start by asking some crucial questions:
1. In whom is God wanting me to invest?
Multipliers do not just minister to crowds. They ask God whom He wants them to intentionally pull close, into a relationship. Then they seek to cooperate with God in helping that person (or persons) take the next steps in their own disciple-making journey. This investment will require intentional time together, “show-how” learning, feedback and ongoing support. We see Jesus doing this in Luke 6:12-26 (parallel passage in Mark 3:14-17).
I actually keep a list of names. While I’m investing in a few individuals, I’m already praying about who may be next.
2. What am I doing alone that I could be doing with someone else?
As already mentioned, one key to multiplication is show-how learning—inviting people to watch how you do something. This process requires that the person comes alongside you.
For example, Jim was a great volunteer in our youth ministry several years ago. A student in his small group once brought a spiritual issue to him that caused Jim to feel out of his depth. I totally understood but didn’t let him off the hook. Instead, I took Jim with me when we sat down together with the student. The next time a student brought that particular issue to Jim, I wasn’t needed.
Another friend of mine recently shared with me how she multiplies teachers, also using show-how learning:
- First, she invites the new teacher to meet with her so they can read and dialogue through the text together.
- Next, she invites that person to spend the week studying the text and putting together a teaching plan.
- Finally, just a few hours before the meeting, my friend asks the new teacher to share what she’s going to teach. My friend offers some last-minute encouragements and pointers . . .
- . . . and also offers feedback afterward.
From studying Scripture and engaging God in prayer, to organizing an event, teaching a Sunday school class, building a partnership in the community or leading a whole division of ministry, consider some of the things you are doing alone that you could be doing with others.
When Meredith and Kenny Kohlbrenner (at right) were 12, they began a discipleship relationship with author Shane Stacey and his wife, Heather. That was 1995. Now, the Kohlbrenners are investing in teens themselves. Photo courtesy Shane Stacey
3. What development does this person need, in order to be successful?
A multiplier is not primarily concerned with program-development or filling slots. Instead, the focus is on people-development. This requires both encouraging the heart and equipping the hands.
We encourage the heart when we remember that it is a disciple who makes disciples. Therefore, even while helping someone develop their fruitfulness, make sure to consistently encourage their faithfulness. A disciple—one who follows Jesus closely—is the only one who will make disciples. Therefore, multipliers will stay engaged in how the people they are pulling close are growing in their surrender and obedience to Christ.
At the same time, a multiplier seeks to equip the hands. This requires observation, feedback and coaching. Observe the person serving/ leading. Provide feedback on areas of strength and where he or she needs to stretch (grow). Provide “alongside coaching” and additional training in the specific area of needed growth.
4. Who is ready for more than just receiving?
Multipliers are always looking for those who are hungry for more. The kid who shows up before youth group to help set up chairs is probably not just bored. He is probably expressing nonverbally: I’m ready for more.
Take a look at your volunteers. Think like a multiplier and start planning to turn over a portion of your ministry to those who seem ready for more.
You’ve got others who are faithfully serving inside the church. Is it time to help them begin ministering to those outside the family of God? The next time you host a neighborhood party or otherwise engage with your circle of relationships outside the church, invite those individuals as well, so they can watch.
Jesus was a multiplier. From start (Mark 1:17) to finish (Matthew 28:18-20), He thought and lived like a multiplier. One of the EFCA ReachStudent ministry partners, Bill Allison of Cadre Ministries, has suggested that the disciples heard Jesus’ Great Commission this way:
“Guys, you know what I’ve done with you for the last three-and-a-half years? Repeat that in the exact same way over and over again! Starting right now as you go about your lives, do with others exactly what I did with you, and help them do it with others without ever stopping. When you tell others about Me, some will believe and follow Me. Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Be sure to pull them close—like I did with you—and show them how to love God, love people and make disciples . . . until every ethnic group in the world has disciples who are making more disciples. As you live my disciplemaking way of life, you can have full assurance of My presence, power and provision—for I am always with you.”
Don’t just be someone who makes disciples. Think like a multiplier and make disciplemakers.
Think about your own ministry and pick one of these crucial questions to ask right now:
- In whom is God wanting me to invest?
- What am I doing alone that I could be doing with someone else?
- What development does this person need, in order to be successful?
- Who is ready for more than just receiving?