The Kingdom principle of multiplying disciples is one of the most necessary and neglected practices of discipleship in many churches.
In 2 Timothy 2:1-7, Paul explained to his young disciple, Timothy, the Kingdom principle of multiplying disciples.
2 Timothy 2:1-7 – You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
Living the D-Life requires the multiplication of disciples; apart from multiplication there is no real discipleship.
When Jesus invited twelve men into His D-Group, He knew that He would not be with them forever. His ultimate goal was not to remain with them, but to send them out. These twelve disciples knew that they would each go out and do what Jesus had trained them to do. They would multiply as disciples.
Churches today often fail to grasp the discipleship principle of multiplication. The goal of Jesus for His church is to multiply disciples. A D-Group must be committed to multiplication.
If you are not committed to multiplication, then you are not a discipleship group. Apart from multiplying, you are not truly making disciples.
THE MULTIPLICATION OF D-LIFE IS EMPOWERED
Paul exhorted his young disciple, Timothy, saying, “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” The word “strengthened” is from the Greek word, endunamoó, from which we have the word “dynamite.”
Dynamite is very powerful. We can be filled with dynamite-like power for the purpose of multiplying disciples. Paul consistently taught his disciples that God would empower them to do His will (Ephesians 6:10; Philippians 6:10).
THE MULTIPLICATION OF D-LIFE IS EXPLAINED
After exhorting Timothy to be strengthened with God’s grace, Paul very clearly explained to him the discipleship principle of multiplication. Paul said to Timothy, “What you have heard from me…entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).
Here we see four generations of discipleship: 1) Paul, 2) Timothy, 3) faithful men, and 4) others also. That is multiplication.
Multiplication is God’s secret principle of how the kingdom is to grow. God’s plan for discipleship in His kingdom is not addition, but multiplication. Simply put, when you lead a D-Group of three to eight people, your goal is not to grow a bigger group. It’s difficult to effectively disciple more than eight people.
Now you may add two or three to your D-Group along the way. That is fine. You don’t want to turn anyone away, but remember that your goal is not addition. The goal is to multiply disciples and to start new D-Groups. It is imperative for us to be faithful to this goal.
The members of the early church were faithful to the principle of multiplying disciples. In Acts 12:24, the Bible says, “But the Word of God increased and multiplied.” The early church didn’t grow by addition; it expanded greatly through multiplication.
On one occasion, Jesus told a parable about a mustard seed: The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches” (Matthew 13:31-32).
Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed is a picture of the kingdom of God. It started small with only twelve men. It had small beginnings, but it multiplied and it grew amazingly vast.
The Multiplication of D-Life will result in exponential growth of God’s Kingdom. The plan is for every D-Group to multiply yearly and for every D-Group to have at least three disciples.
The results of multiplying disciples are remarkable . . .
Year 1 = 1 D-Group (3 Others)
Year 2 = 2 D-Groups (6 Others)
Year 3 = 4 D-Groups (12 Others)
Year 4 = 8 D-Groups (24 Others)
Year 5 = 16 D-Groups (48 Others)
Year 10 = 512 D-Groups (1,536 Others)
Year 15 = 16,384 D-Groups (49,152 Others)
Year 20 = 524,288 D-Groups (1,572,864 Others)
Year 25 = 16,777,216 D-Groups (50,331,648 Others)
Year 30 = 536,870,912 D-Groups (Over 1.5 Billion Others)
Wow! What if only half of this happened? Exponential growth is the result of multiplying disciples.
THE MULTIPLICATION OF D-LIFE IS EXPECTED
- We must have the dedication of a soldier.
Paul exhorted Timothy saying, “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” Making disciples requires commitment. Whatever the cost, all genuine believers are enlisted by God to join an army of disciple makers.
Paul says, “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.” Multiplying disciples will require us to give up some of our “civilian pursuits.” Nevertheless, living the D-Life must be a top priority in our lives.
- We must have the discipline of an athlete.
Paul goes on to say, “An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” Being an elite athlete requires great discipline and rigorous training.
Leading a D-Group and multiplying disciples also requires discipline. You must have the discipline to read your Bible daily, to pray daily for those in your group, and to lead your group in ministry projects outside the walls of the church.
You must be on time for all D-Group meetings. You must be disciplined in leading your group to multiply disciples. Leadership requires discipline.
- We must have the diligence of a farmer.
Finally, Paul says, “It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.” Discipleship is hard work. It requires the patience and diligence of a farmer. It takes time and effort to see spiritual fruit grow, but the rewards are amazing.
The greatest reward of disciple making is multiplication. There is great joy in seeing one of your disciples become a new D-Group leader and to begin making other disciples.
As a wise farmer knows when the crop is ready for harvest, a wise D-Leader knows when a disciple is ready to lead a new group. God will give you discernment for this. You should always be equipping others in your group to become new D-Group leaders.
When it is time to multiply a new D-Group, there are several ways to do it:
- You can turn over your D-Group to a new leader and co-leader within the group and you can go out to begin a new group.
- You can divide the D-Group in half with a new leader and co-leader taking over half the group and you keeping the other half.
- You can divide the D-Group in thirds with new leaders and co-leaders each taking one-third of the group and you keeping one-third of the group.
- You can send out a new leader and co-leader to begin a new D-Group when they already have new disciples committed to join their group.
- New D-Groups can meet at the same time and place as before, but should meet separately from the former group. However, it’s fine to fellowship together and partner in ministry projects together with former groups.
- New D-Groups may need to move to a new time and place in order to accommodate the schedules of new disciples who want to join the group.
- The on-going training of new D-Group leaders is essential for the continued multiplication of disciples.
It is very important to offer D-Life Training on a regular basis. All D-Group leaders should enlist potential new leaders for the training every time it is offered.
THE MULTIPLICATION OF D-LIFE IS EXCITING
Few things are more exciting and fulfilling for a true follower of Christ than that of multiplying disciples. Disciple making is never boring. It adds great significance to your life. It also creates a spirit of excitement in a church when D-Groups are continually multiplying.
Paul literally “poured out” his life into the work of multiplying disciples (2 Timothy 4:6-8). There is no way to measure the true impact of Paul’s life. We know that he lived the D-Life and made many disciples who multiplied and made other disciples. He was confident that the crown of righteousness would be his reward in Heaven.
Likewise, if you will make a commitment to live the D-Life for the rest of your life on earth, there will be no way to measure the impact of your life. You will make many disciples who will make other disciples, and you too will be rewarded with the crown of righteousness.
The challenge before you is to commit to live the D-Life for the rest of your life. Remember, this is not a program; it’s a lifestyle. Prayerfully make it your lifestyle to multiply disciples until the time of your departure is at hand. A lifetime lifestyle of making disciples is the ultimate D-Life commitment.