As I alluded to in the last post, the men with whom the King of the Universe entrusted the most precious enterprise in history, were, well, ordinary. In fact, they were so ordinary, every person on the planet could probably say, “Yup, I’ve done that.” or “Yep, I’ve said that.” And we’re not talking about the flattering things they did and said. No, these guys were sinners just like you and I. And I’m guessing that was a strategic choice on Jesus’ part. “Let me find men and women the world can identify with.” Some of their actions are downright embarrassing! They could go from hero to zero in a matter of seconds. Jesus even calls the ring leader “Satan” at one point. But on the other hand, these men were special. They were spiritually hungry. They endured the hardship of an austere apostolic lifestyle. They were lumped into the fierce scrutiny that Jesus attracted as a lightning rod of social, financial, political, and religious upheaval. They would eventually be known as the men who had “been with Jesus” (Acts 4.13) and all but one would ultimately be martyred for their allegiance to the King. Do you feel unqualified to be a disciple-maker? Welcome to the club! In fact, I would stay away from any would-be disciple-maker that thinks he or she has it all together. You might end up as “collateral damage” when that lightning bolt hits. We are all in need of a Savior. And that’s the beauty of the gospel. By the King’s mercy and grace, He molds and fashions us into the people we were always meant to be. (Rom 8.29) He takes that which is ordinary and uses them to perform the extraordinary. All we have to do is be willing teachable subjects and He “makes us into fishers of men.” Are we willing? Are we teachable? Are we looking for others that are willing and teachable?
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
Jesus preached the kingdom of God. His disciples must have heard lessons on the kingdom until they were dripping with the royal discourse. But the funny thing was, it took them a while to figure out He was the King, standing right there in front of them. And as more and more disciples began to catch on they had expectations of their newfound King. But the King, in typical “Jesus fashion,” flipped the kingdom on its head. He would wash the subject’s feet, allow His creation to spit in His face, and ultimately torture Him to death. But His supreme reign would be gloriously demonstrated when He brought even death under His subjection. (Jn 10.18, Rev 1.5) And in the brilliance of His victory, even over the grave, He would issue His most pressing orders to the eleven disciples. He begins with an astounding statement; “All authority has been given to Me…” The King of kings is giving the most important edict to eleven ordinary men (whom by the way abandoned Him in the greatest moment in history). And with all authority in heaven and on earth, He tells these men to go and make disciples. Not, “I have all authority so I will end world hunger, wars, disease, crime, etc…” No, He said, “Go and make disciples.” Do you see the gravity of what Jesus is doing and what that means for you and I? With all the things the King of the Universe could have said, He, with all authority, commands us, His disciples, to go and make disciples. I don’t know about you but that completely blows me away! Making disciples must be one of Jesus’ highest priorities! Are we taking the King’s command as seriously as it merits? Are we doing everything we can to study and implement this most crucial endeavor?
“Suffer hardship with me,as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.”
(2 Timothy 2.3)
I love the age-old question asked of every United States Marine; “So you want to be a Marine?” This question is asked from the moment they step in the recruiter’s office to the march across the parade field as new graduates from the USMC Boot Camp. The question challenges the will and brings everything into focus when the tough times come (and they WILL come, the Marine Corps guarantees that). Recruits may have had an inkling of what they signed up for beforehand but their Drill Instructors (DI) will continually bring crystal clear focus to their identity every arduous step of the way. I believe Jesus did the same with His “would be” disciples. He taught them, He warned them, He challenged them, and He consoled them. And then He gave them an even tougher assignment; “What I have done for you, go and do for others.” (Mt 28.18-20 paraphrased) We know how tough Boot Camp is for the recruits but what is transparent to many people is that being a Drill Instructor (DI) is no walk in the park either. Having been a Ranger Instructor in the US Army, I am very familiar with trying to mold people into something every fiber of their being resists. Like the recruits, the DI has to endure the excruciating hours, the nasty weather, punishing physical demands, and worst of all, Ground Hog Day (Once you have shaped the first batch, the next batch comes in on their heals and the process repeats over and over again). And let me warn you, like being a DI, being a good Disciple-Maker will challenge your socks off! Are we really up for the challenge? I hope so because there is really no choice as a follower of Jesus Christ. You want to be a disciple-maker, so let’s get started…
Jeff and Angie Sundell, Troy and Rachel Long Cooper, and Deb and I recently spent some time reviewing the formation and growth of NPL over the last 10 years. One of our key takeaways was the power of Event Training. I’d like to start sharing why I think Event Training was so crucial to the world-wide vision we now call NoPlaceLeft.
What is Event Training? (Part 2)
An Event Training is usually a gathering of existing believers to catalyze evangelism, disciple-making, church planting, and/or leadership development. We have facilitated Gospel Conversation Training (411), Four Field Intensives (Comprehensive Movement Strategy), Mid-Levels (Problem Solving) and Strategy Coordinator Training. Each one of these trainings are focused on levels of Competence, Confidence, and Commitment to seeing a movement of the gospel in a local/global expression of practice. The goal is to see the glory of Jesus spread to the ends of the earth until there is NoPlaceLeft.
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 3) – Prayer is Key
The 1st Principle of Church Planting Movements is Passionate Prayer. Our training needs to be a prayer sandwich; A big slab of prayer between two slices of prayer. Are we going to do anything of significance if the Holy Spirit isn’t in the training? Any good thing that comes out of a training is a miracle (and we’ve done enough trainings to know!) So we pray and fast before, we pray during the training, and we pray like crazy afterward so our work is not in vain.
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 4) – The Beginning of Gospel Saturation
The 2nd Principle of Church Planting Movements is Abundant Seed Sowing. When we do a “Gospel Conversation Training” where the trainees actually go out and share the gospel, it impacts the community. I’m guessing it may even be a 500% increase in evangelism in some towns or cities! Of course, the goal is a sustainable daily evangelistic effort, but it’s a start. Every time we train a person to train someone else to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, we get one step closer to NoPlaceLeft.
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 5) – No Gospeling, No Training
When we do a Gospel Conversation Training, we always leave time to actually go out and practice what we learned. In fact, if someone tells us, “We just want the training. We won’t be going out.” We politely suggest they try another program. Training means doing what we learned. Don’t train people to do things they are unwilling to do. It will give them a false sense of accomplishment and spirituality. And in the end, we are no closer to NoPlaceLeft or obeying Jesus.
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 6) – Humility, Courage, and Faith
When we send people out to share the gospel, we’re actually molding their character. It takes humility, courage, and faith to share the gospel and make disciples. The Lord Jesus is not only interested in what His disciples “do” but also who they “are.” It’s not just about the outer works but the inner man as well. We can’t rob the People of God of this vital development because it’s outside their “comfort zone.” Send them out! (John 17.18)
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 7) – Obedience is Success, Results are a Blessing
There are controllables and uncontrollables in movements. Sharing the gospel is controllable, leading people to Christ is not. Teaching people how to be a healthy church is a controllable, planting a church is not. Prayer and fasting is a controllable, movement is not. If you want to start a movement, you might be sorely disappointed. But if you want to align your heart with the Father’s and if you want to love Jesus, you’ve come to the right place. Our obedience is reward enough and we leave the results to the Master.
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 8) – Look for the “Doers”
In the introductory trainings (411 & Intensives) you’re looking for the people that actually put the training into practice. We call these folks the “Doers.” (James 1.22) It’s usually 1-2%. We know that number seems low but these are your 4th Soil people who will multiply. To find this kind of person you have to 1) Give them something to do and 2) Follow up to see if they did it. Otherwise, it’s like going fishing with no hook, you’re just throwing worms in the water.
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 9) – The Real Training Happens After the Event
Rarely does a person completely capture the training on the first go. But it does pique their interest enough to get involved. Take this kind of person under your wing and begin to invest the time it will take for the new disciple to become Confident, Competent, and Committed. They need Coaching and Mentoring on a weekly basis.
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 10) – A Catalyst is Cool but the Coach/Mentor Gets Traction
We’ve seen a lot of people who have been to a catalytic training and are fired up but don’t have a clue on what to do next. We need to train in such a way that we give people “Handles” on their newfound vision as disciple-makers. Catalyst are great at casting vision but it’s the coach/mentor who is going to roll up their sleeves and get the job done.
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 11) – New Trainers Get the Real Training
What is the best way to learn something? Teach it! This insight will dictate the focus of our training efforts. The focus is on the new trainer, not the trainees. This can be messy. But if we are primarily concerned about the people who showed up for the training, we would only have the Guru teaching. The Guru mentality does not multiply. I say that the trainees are well fed guinea pigs, it’s the new trainer I’m focused on.
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 12) – Getting “Sundelled”
Jeff Sundell knows how to train trainers. Time and time again we would be minding our own business as a student and Jeff would come up behind one of us and whisper in our ear, “You’re teaching the next module.” What?! It was uncomfortable and nerve racking. It was testing the trainer’s metal. Were we training from experience or was it just theory? We joke about being “Sundelled” but believe it or not we loved the challenge. It developed a sense of comradery and confidence. Challenge and stretch your trainers.
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 13) – Reproduce Everything
I had a good mentor as a young disciple. He taught me to reproduce everything. Monkey see, monkey do. So when I started attending NPL trainings, I just brought it back to San Antonio and reproduced it. I went to a 411, I came back and trained someone else in 411. I went to a Mid-Level, I came back and trained a Mid-Level. And don’t think you have to reproduce all of it right away. Just start reproducing what you can AND train others to start reproducing the same.
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 14) – Three Touch Training
Troy Cooper started rolling out “Three Touch Trainings.” Pure Genius! The first training, the “first touch,” he and his team would do 100% of the training. The second training was 50% his team and 50% new trainers from those who attended the first training. And the third training, the “third touch,” was 100% new trainers from the previous trainings and Troy’s team just watched and gave feedback. Remember what I said about the new trainer being the focus? BOOM!
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 15) – No Application, No Bueno
Every training day ends with a “So what are you going to do about it” session. Trainees pray, write, and share their goals with one another. They are not cold hard goals that can’t be changed but they are the first steps toward applying what they have learned. Always (and I mean always) leave space in the training for people to reflect and pray about how they are going to put their training into action. Help them be a “Doer.”
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 16) – Know the Cornerstone
Each training has a “Cornerstone” event or module. For the Gospel Conversation Training, it is going out and actually sharing the gospel. For a Four Fields Intensive, it’s the Luke/Acts Bible study (the Biblical basis for a movement strategy). And for a Mid-Level, it’s Iron on Iron, a collaborative assessment and problem solving tool. When you develop a schedule for training you’ll have to make some cuts. You’re not going to have time to train everything. You can unwittingly cut the cornerstone. Keep the Cornerstone!
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 17) – Make it About Jesus
Speaking of cornerstones, Jesus is THE Cornerstone. (Eph 2.19-20) We must make sure that our training elevates and glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ. That may seem like a “No Brainer” but believe me, if we are not careful, we can completely ignore the King of kings. A quick example: Paul’s journeys are cool and we can learn great ministry strategy from them. But don’t let it get past your trainees, it was Jesus’ pattern that the apostle followed in an effort to preach and glorify HIS name.
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 18) – Know the Punchline
Ever tell a joke and forget the punchline? Embarrassing, right? Well, I’ve taught training modules and forgot to make sure I hit the punchline. The punchline of a training module is the main point. It can be the “why” we do something. Or it can be the distilled simplified “way” to do something. For example, the punchline for the 411 is for people to be confident, competent, and committed to sharing the gospel. Or The Four Fields is a Biblical pattern for ministry and the Jesus instituted it. If you want more examples of punchlines, click on the link; PUNCHLINES
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 19) – 4th Time’s a Charm
Have you ever felt like you’ve learned something and them your second time hearing it you think to yourself, “Wow, was I even paying attention the first time?” And then around the 3rd and 4th time, you’re wondering how much more you’re missing? NPL trainings are a lot like that. About the 3rd or 4th time things begin to click. Repetition is a key element of learning. As trainers, we need to be patient and provide the “reps” that people need for the movement principles to soak in.
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 20) – Keep it Simple
Everyone wants to add something. The trick to effectiveness is not to cover every conceivable aspect of any particular subject. The trick is to boil it down to its irreducible minimum.
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 21) – It Doesn’t Have to Be Big
You don’t have to have a hundred people at your training. We want big and flashy in order to feel like we’ve been successful. Actually a living room full of people or one to two people sitting across from you at a coffee shop is more personal, manageable, and sustainable. Do you have a few people who want training? Don’t let big get in the way. Get after it!
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 22) – Less is More
One of the mistakes I think we made in the beginning is that we overloaded people with content. We would teach 30 modules in a four-day time span, sun up to late at night with no breaks. How much can people really retain? Look at your schedule and automatically assume you won’t cover everything. Choose the modules that your people absolutely need and cut the rest. Leave room for people to connect, think and pray.
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 23) – Intensives are Intense
We say “Less is More” but a Four Fields Intensive is supposed to be…well…intense. You do have a lot of ground to cover. You are breaking people’s paradigms. At times intensives get downright emotional. If you’ve never been to one before, beware, Monday morning you’re going to wake up with a “training hangover.” (That’s Trainees and Trainers alike!) So tell people to fasten their seatbelts, it’s going to be a wild ride.
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 24) – Meeting Leak
Have you ever noticed how the attendance at NPL trainings drops a little each day? Yes, people are leaving your training and the group gets smaller and smaller. I was talking to another trainer who wanted to incentivize attendance to the end. Don’t do it! I see meeting leak as a good thing! I’m not looking for people that lose interest in a few hours of training. I’m looking for people who will be in it for the long haul. The motivation to stay in the training is the training!
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 25) – Large Chunks of Scripture
We study Scriptures like Luke 8-10, Act 13-15, 16-18, or 19-20 in about 40 minutes. This frustrates most disciples because they’re not used to climbing to the 30,000 foot level of the narrative. They want to discuss every verse in excruciating detail. There is a place for that. But we are training them to see the big picture, the overarching principles, and the strategic patterns. You’re going to hear a lot of moaning and groaning when you do this. Stick to it. They will thank you later.
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 26) – Swarm Training
Swarm training is like a swarm of bees. They buzz in, create the buzz, and recruit more bees to the buzz (the vision). It’s the way we bring the next generation of disciple-maker up to “shoulder height.” But you can have too many bees in the hive! Usually, we are looking for 4-5 trainers at an event. Have too many trainers? Help them start planning their own training event! Multiply! (Remember the “Guru Mentality” does not multiply)
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 27) – Adult Learning Model
This is SO important! Stop training people in rows facing you! This may be a great teaching method but it is a terrible training method. Break the crowd down into small groups. Give them something to discuss and go through a self-discovery process. Then bring them back for a debrief for the whole crowd. You can fill in any gaps. I guarantee you your trainees will be much more engaged and you’ll find the emerging leaders a lot faster than if you merely preach at them.
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 28) – The Cool Uncle Effect
Anyone who has raised kids knows this phenomenon. You’ve told your kids the same thing a hundred times and then the “cool uncle” comes over and says it once and the kids turn to you with the “why didn’t you tell me?” expression on their cute little faces. Disciple-making has the same phenomena. So instead of instruction by happenchance, make it happen. Invites some trainers from outside your network to swarm train with you and reinforce the things your folks aren’t grasping.
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 29) – Practice, Practice, Practice
Do you want something to reproduce? Practice it! Stop the information download and have the trainees tell or show others in their small groups what they are learning. If its a particular ministry skill, have them practice it until they are competent, confident and committed. Two big reasons things don’t reproduce; 1) We have not explicitly stated an expectation for reproduction and 2) people don’t feel confident enough to do what we did. Practice is key to reproduction.
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 30) – Getting to Church
In the Army, we said, “Train as you fight.” In other words, make it as close to the real thing as possible. If we train one way and expect the people to do it another, things will certainly get lost in translation. So in our training, we train people to BE the church, right there in the training. We call it church. We act like the church. We expect people to go and start a church. Not everyone will or has to, but at least they have seen it modeled.
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 31) – Failing Forward
One of the hallmark character traits of a trainer is humility. You have to be humble enough to know you don’t have all the answers and courageous enough to try something and fail. Ironically, most people are afraid to fail but once they get the hang of something they have now become the expert. We must avoid these two at all costs. We will keep “Failing Forward.” This has been our mantra from the very beginning. We have the courage to try and the humility to stay teachable.
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 32) – The Mid-Level Training
A mid-level training is completely different from the 411 and the Intensive. The latter two are come-one-come-all. The mid-level is an “invitation only” event. It’s focused on your leaders and solving the problems they are encountering. It also has elements of encouragement, refreshment, vision casting, and goal setting. Most people feel like they don’t need a mid-level because they haven’t hit a certain level of ministry. Do you have leaders? Do you have problems? If you said yes to these two questions, you NEED a mid-level training.
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 33) – Don’t Invite Non-Doers to a Mid-Level
If you would like to discourage your leaders and undercut what they are trying to do, invite people that don’t do anything (or are just curious) to your mid-level training. Remember, the focus is on your leaders. This is a special event for them. You are going to have to say “no” to some people so you can say “yes” to your leaders.
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 34) – Mid-Level Pastoral Care
One of the most important aspects of a mid-level training is the pastoral care. Your leaders may have received a lot of “Friendly Fire.” Or they could be discouraged or even worse disillusioned with what they feel God has called them to. Or they are having so much fun they are on the road to burnout and don’t even know it. As leaders, we are looking for all of these pitfalls and bringing the love and advice to help them through the tough times and press on.
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 35) – Iron on Iron (IOI)
Iron on Iron is a collaborative assessment of an individual or team’s ministry. It is bathed in prayer. We ask questions about abiding in Christ, victories, multiplication, and obstacles. We give encouragement and advice. Then we set goals and pray again. After my first “IOI” I saw the pure genius in it! I wish I could have 30 years of ministry back in order to implement “IOIs” along the way. We assess what we value. IOI is the cornerstone of a mid-level training.
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 36) – Keep the Training Free
We deciding in the very beginning not to charge for our training. This went against “conventional wisdom” which states “If people don’t pay something for it, it isn’t valuable.” Hmmm? That may be true but here’s another truth, “As soon as you add money to the mix, you make it that much more non-reproducing.” We decided the application was a better price tag. Training is Free. The Application will cost you your Life.
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 37) – Schedule your Trainings
Sit down with a calendar. Markdown six 411 training and one Four Fields Intensive for this year. Spread them out over 12 months. “But we don’t even have people to train yet?!” And that’s why you end your planning meeting on your knees begging God to use your little team to ignite a movement. For those who are down the road a little bit, you’ll probably schedule fewer 411s and maybe two Intensives and a mid-level for your leaders (at least once a year). All of this planning is flexible but if you don’t put it on the calendar, chances are you won’t be praying like crazy and it won’t happen.
The Secret Sauce of Event Training (Part 38) – Know when to get out of the way
What grows under a big oak tree? Nothin’ A leader needs to know when it’s time to step aside and let the emerging leaders take the ball and run with it. You can do this too soon and too late. I’d rather have sooner than later. It’s awkward and messy but if you stay too long, your folks become paralyzed by the “Guru Mentality.” And remember, the “Gru Mentality” doesn’t multiply. And besides now you get to go to new places with new people and start over again! (I know, that only sounds good to the apostolic types 🙂 )
The Secret Sauce of Event Training – Conclusion
It’s been fun for me to reflect on the last ten years of training. This has been one prong of a two-pronged attack on lostness; Training existing believers. The other prong is the 0-1 raising up leaders from the harvest. Both are essential to the movement of the gospel. I know this is a lot (I think I wore a hole in my keyboard) and I know I didn’t cover everything. There are more “secrets” to good training out there. If you have some, please post them on the Facebook Group. Keep training!
Email and ask to join our NoPlaceLeft Facebook Group: Charleswood1@gmail.com
One of my young leaders came to me in complete exasperation. He asked, “Chuck, my living room is full of 20-30 people that just love to hear my teaching but won’t do anything with it!” My advice to him was, “Be like Jesus and make the application the focus. Make “application” of the teaching the price of admission for more teaching.” Two years later the same young leader came to me with almost the exact same question, “Chuck, my Sunday School Class is full of 100-150 people that just love to hear my teaching but won’t do anything with it!” Do you know what my advice was? “Be like Jesus and make the application the focus. Make “application” of the teaching the price of admission for more teaching.” Listen to Jesus;
“He who has My commandments and KEEPS THEM is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose myself to him.” (Jn 14.21) .
“If anyone is WILLING TO DO HIS WILL, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.” (Jn 7.17)
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and ACTS ON THEM, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and DOES NOT ACT ON THEM, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” (Mt 7.24-27)
Want to find 4th soil people? Look for people that actually put the teaching into action and don’t fill your boat with those that don’t. That young leader finally got it and now has people that are actually applying what he teaches. He’s found 4th Soil.
Do you teach with the application as the end-state? Do you ask if people made application of the knowledge taught in the last lesson before moving on to the next? Are you training others to “go after the hands?”
What We Multiply Matters (Doing the Math – Part 3)
Adam and Eve went crazy! When God told them to be fruitful and multiply, they did! Well, sort of. They did start reproducing but it wasn’t exactly what God intended. When we look at the original scenario we see that God wants them to multiply His image.
“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 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.” (Genesis 1.27-28)
But right about chapter three in Genesis the serpent added a little something called sin to the mix that basically messed up the whole “image” thing. Not beyond repair or the love of God mind you, but just enough to impact the whole human race…in a bad way. Now instead of multiplying the pure image of God, the “little something” was like an ugly smudge on the photocopy glass and shows up on the first copy. And instead of cleaning the glass, we just made a copy of the copy and things got worse until it was time to start over with a flood;
“Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. Then God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth.” (Genesis 6.11-13)
Oh, we had been fruitful and multiplied, alright. We had filled the whole earth with our violence. We multiplied but it wasn’t what God wanted us to multiply. And this is the warning; Just because we are increasing in number doesn’t mean we are multiplying the “Image of God” as He intended. I mean, Mormons and JWs are multiplying. Islam is multiplying. And secular Christianity is multiplying at an alarming rate as people buy into a discipleshipless form of a spiritual counterfeit.
Jesus gives His stern warning to the Pharisees;
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” (Matthew 23.15)
Yikes! Is it possible that committed mission-minded people could actually multiply “hellish sons?” Quite frankly, this verse scares my pants off!
This is why “discipleship” is so important. If we define discipleship the same way Jesus defines it, we will see it as the process of becoming like Him, the perfect image of God (Matthew 10.24-25, Luke 6.40). Discipleship is not tools, or a program, or a higher level of Special Forces in the Christian life. No, discipleship is the process whereby we become everything we were meant to be, the image of God. And Jesus Christ is the perfect model we look to for our transformation.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8.28-29)
So as we commit ourselves to be “fruitful and multiplying” let’s have a clear picture of what we are to be multiplying. Let us master the Master. Studying His ways and His words to become conformed to Him. Let’s fix our eyes squarely on the Author and Perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12.2), the Lord Jesus Christ, and multiply Him over all the face of the earth (Matthew 28.18-20). To Him be the glory, and honor, and praise, forever and ever. AMEN
Are we mastering the Master? Are we reading the gospels daily to look intently on the perfect Man and conforming to His image? Is this our definition of discipleship and are we training others to do the same?
I read a great book call “Switch, How to Change Things When Change is Hard” by Chip and Dan Heath. The authors use an illustration of a rider, an elephant, and a path. The rider represents the intellect. He’s the little guy riding on the neck of the elephant with a stick. The elephant represents the emotions. This huge animal will obey the little man with the stick most of the time under normal circumstances. And the path represents the direction the rider wants to go. But what happens when a tiger jumps in the middle of the path? I’m sorry, no matter how much the little guy pokes that elephant with that stick, that terrified pachyderm is going where ever he wants! So good luck with that. The same goes for emotions. If emotions are significantly aroused, it will be heart over the head every time. Many times disciple-makers are aiming at the head, the intellect. That’s good. Disciples need knowledge. But if you go after both the heart (emotions) and the head, you’ll see greater commitment. Jesus went after the head and the heart. He demonstrates this in many ways. “Out of the heart, the mouth speaks…Unless you hate your mother and father…Unless you forgive from the heart…”, etc…. Even the crucifixion speaks more to the heart than to the head. Jesus died for me! More head or heart? Heart hands down! This is why when I’m leading biblical discussions I use the Head, Heart, and Hands format. I am amazed at how often disciples (and I) get significant motivation and application when we ask the question; “How does this make you feel?” I rarely find a 4th Soil person who isn’t significantly invested emotionally and as they are intellectual. 4th Soil has their head and their heart is in the game as well.
Are you aiming for the heart, the emotions? How are you hitting the heart of the people you are discipling?
Movements are as easy as punching the numbers in a calculator, right? No way! Some of you have fallen out of your chairs with laughter because you know where I’m coming from. And yet people still approach this holy work of God as though it were a numbers game. We think if I just do such and such and pray a little bit, presto! And out comes a movement. Nope, and we have Scripture to prove it. Movements (multiplication) are nothing short of a miracle from God. We are living in a microwave, easy-bake, 5G society and we want it now and I mean right now. Even if we do the right things in the right way with the right people, there is no guarantee that we will see multiplication. (We are, however, pretty much guaranteed not to see multiplication if we don’t.) But make no mistake about it, the blessing of multiplication is just that, “a blessing.” It comes as a gift from the Almighty. He is the Great Multiplier.
The LORD appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham; Do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you, and multiply your descendants, For the sake of My servant Abraham.” (Gen 26:24
May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples. (Gen 28:3 NASB)
Even Jesus saw His men as a gift from the Father;
“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world;they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. (John 17.6)
So let’s be clear, although we are commanded to multiply, it is nothing short of a miracle when it actually happens. So at the end of the day, even when we are being the right kind of person, know the right answers, and do the right kind of things, it is still God’s prerogative and gift to multiply. The key is that we posture ourselves in such a way as to acknowledge it. We trust, we pray, and we get our reps in (do the right things), and then we wait with perseverance.
Have we postured ourselves before God as the One who gives the gift of multiplication? Are we praying in such a way that we are declaring our utter dependence on Him for multiplication? Are we training others to have the same kind of attitude? When we do see multiplication are we giving the credit to the Great Gift Giver?
So now as I shined my flashlight in the water I could see the four bumps, that was a frog. I had identified my target. But as I would thrust my gig at the frog, it would jump away so fast the only thing I was hitting was water and a bruised ego. My friend came over once again and asked what was wrong. I told him, “These frogs are smart, they jump out of the way every time.” “Oh,” he said “You’ve got to aim the gig right in front of them. If you lead them, they will jump right into the gig and you’ll stick ‘em every time.” So I took the advice of my expert frog gigging disciple-maker and wah-lah, I got my first frog! And then another one and another one. I was pulling frogs out of the water like no body’s business. The same goes for the disciple-maker that can accurately identify the 4th soil person but then you have to gig ‘em. Well, that sounds a little violent so let’s say, you have to “win ‘em” That’s what you are trying to do, win their hearts. Let’s go back to Jesus. He demonstrated a keen sense of the Father’s will, He was supernaturally astute, He displayed supernatural abilities, loved people extravagantly, He was a master of the Word of God and a man of prayer, and these are just a few of His qualities. In other words, Jesus was a 4th Soil man and attracted 4 Soil people. Now that’s a pretty high bar but we can start by looking at Jesus and trying to become like Him. As we mature, people notice. If you want to win the hearts of the 4th Soil person you must be 4th Soil yourself (or at least one step ahead of the prospective disciple you wish to train). When 4th Soil people see a person walking with Jesus consistently and effectively, they are naturally drawn to you because they want what you got. Are you getting it, Jesus I mean?
Is this a fad? Everyone is talking about multiplication. Multiplying disciples, multiplying churches, and multiplying movements is kind of a buzz among missional Christians nowadays. I’m super excited about that but I’ve found if we don’t have a reason “why” we are doing something, it’s usually a fad we pass through on our way to the next good idea. So what the big deal? Why should we be multiplying? What does the Bible say about multiplication? And if you’re like me and hate math and still don’t even have your times’ table memorized, just stick with me to the end. (And please don’t rat me out with my grandkids)
It all begins with the beginning. One of the purposes God created the living creatures and man himself was to multiply and fill the earth. (Gen 1.22,28) It’s literally a command. “Be fruitful and multiply.” In the Hebrew, the word means; “be or become great, be or become many, be or become much, be or become numerous.” (Strong’s H7235) So the word “multiply” in Hebrew doesn’t necessarily mean multiply in a purely mathematical sense of the word. But one thing is for sure, that “mathematical multiplication” is certainly the fastest way to accomplish the growth God commanded. The Father wants His creation to grow and cover the whole earth.
Here’s a classic story of multiplication. The servant who invented the game of chess brought the new game to his king. The ruler was so impressed he offered to grant any reward the servant desired. The servant is very wise and asked that one grain of wheat be placed on the first square on the chessboard and then two on the next square. He requested that the grains be doubled for each of the squares on the board. If you know the story you know the power of multiplication. By the time the wheat would be placed on the last square, the whole of India would be covered in wheat over 50 ft. deep.
Now before we run off and start “multiplying” let me give you a warning. Efficiency is not the main reason we approach ministry with a multiplying method. No, the main reason we approach ministry with a multiplication mindset is that God commanded us to multiply. And here’s why this is so important to get a handle on. You’re all hot to trot and you get your first person who wants to make disciples and you’re started. Now one becomes two and two become four and four become eight and etc… Then you notice some of the people you started with aren’t so excited about following Jesus anymore and they drop off. Oh no! That just completely messed up my beautiful pyramid scheme! Yes, this is the cold hard reality of multiplication in the kingdom. It’s messy math, not clean math. So there will be huge holes in our “progress chart” but you know what? The kingdom grows and multiplies despite the mess. So I’m not applying a multiplication method because it works. I’m not primarily aiming at the results. And now instead of deep disillusionment in ministry, because I’m not seeing the numbers I expected, I continue to march because this is what my King commanded me to do. I’m primarily doing this because I’m doing the right thing. I’m obeying God.
I love the end of Jesus’ Parable of the Sower;
And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:20)
Now there’s some messy math for you! We are all slinging seed (sharing the gospel) but the sowers may experience different results. Thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold. I’m am so glad Jesus put that part in His story! I think He knew we all like to play the comparison game and look over the fence at our brother or sister’s fruit. I may start to feel a little down on myself because my brother has sixtyfold and I only have thirty (or maybe three!) and I say to myself, “What a loser I am because I didn’t produce more.” Oh, stop that! You’re not a loser! You’re an obedient servant of the Most High God! Or, on the other hand, maybe someone is saying, “Well I have a hundredfold and my poor pitiful brother only has sixty. What a loser!” Oh, stop that! Because you know what’s coming next, right?
You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time. (1 Peter 5.5-6)
So be careful with your math. It’s going to be messy math for you and everyone else. The key is that we are doing it! We are making disciples in such a way that the kingdom of God is increasing. We are not getting in the way of His plan by doing anything in any way that would be a bottleneck to growth. We are obeying the King and He is using us to grow His kingdom.
Have you started multiplying by sharing the gospel? Have you taught someone else to share the gospel? Are you making disciples that primarily want to obey God not just see results? Are you playing the comparison game? Are you multiplying in the Biblical sense of the word (doing messy math)?
If you would like to join me in my study of multiplication, click on the link below;