By Peter Meier | March 1, 2018
Be fruitful and increase in number.’ These words, God’s words (Genesis 1:28; 9:7), are clearly God’s intention for the human race. From His instruction to Adam and Eve, and again to Noah, we see that fruitfulness and increase are important to God.
God’s intention for filling the earth was that the family unit would increase through reproduction through husband and wife. This is also picture of God’s intention for His church.
Todd Wilson (Multipliers: Leading Beyond Addition), notes what did not happen as God repopulated the earth through Noah. God did not intend that Noah would live several thousand years and grow one huge family with thousands of children. Rather, God’s strategy was to establish a family where children would be added to the local or nuclear family (addition). These children would then grow and mature and marry to establish families of their own (multiplication). One family would multiply to three families to nine families to twenty seven to eighty and on and on and on.
This illustrates both addition and multiplication – addition takes place within the individual family unit. As children mature and marry, they continue that local addition. However, the macro strategy for increase is the multiplication of these families to the ends of the earth. This is addition and multiplication as God intended. Wilson says, “Multiplication spreads far and wide while addition accumulates tall and narrow.”
The same strategy is illustrated with Jesus and his disciples. Jesus spent three years discipling 12 men. Then He sent them out saying, “Go and make disciples of all nations… You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, to the ends of the earth.”
The Lord did not allow his disciples to stay in Jerusalem and build an ever-growing, ever-accumulating church (addition). His local strategy was to add disciples, but then to send disciples to new places to start new churches to reach new people (multiplication). These new groups added new disciples and then sent some to new places to start new groups to reach new people. This is God’s strategy today too… disciples are added to the local gathering and then sent out to start new to reach new.
Jesus’ strategy is to multiply new faith communities to the ends of the earth. Disciples are added locally and then they start new faith communities. This is addition and multiplication at work together. Jesus’ Great Commission is to “make disciples” but making disciples isn’t the end of the strategy. God’s strategy is for those new disciples to make more disciples who make even more disciples who gather in new groups of disciples to fill every nook and cranny of our neighborhoods and communities, to the ends of the earth. Addition and Multiplication! Accumulating disciples without releasing and sending disciples falls short of God’s intention.
The Center for United States Missions is focused on helping disciples who want to multiply new faith communities. Our work involves training, coaching, and supporting disciples as they prepare and then launch new groups, new faith communities of disciples who are growing, maturing, serving, and then launching out to start new groups all over again. That’s multiplication.
The beauty of God’s plan is that this multiplication can be done by groups of nearly every size. Just as the family doesn’t need to have 500 members before they launch a new family, so faith communities don’t have to be “big” or “mega” to launch new faith communities. They simply need a commitment to the heart and mission of God, to make disciples to the ends of the earth.
Are you and your church making and accumulating disciples, or are you making and releasing disciples? Is your growth merely addition, or are you intentionally working to multiply new faith communities?
You can do it! We can help!
Mission Moments is the e-newsletter sent by the Center for U.S. Missions to bring information and encouragement to all who desire to share God's great love in Jesus Christ with others. Permission is given to copy this article for distribution within your congregation or organization. Please credit the author and the Center for United States Missions. For more information contact the Center at (952)-221-0362, or visit our website: www.c4usm.org
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