Multiplication

multiply

 This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.   1 John 2:5,6

This may be the most unused topic in Christianity. Think about it: how many times have you heard a sermon on multiplication?  I’m willing to bet the answer is none.  One of the keys to Christianity is multiplication. It is a kingdom principle, yet it is a one that is largely ignored by most mainstream churches.

When I was growing up, one of the things we had to learn was the multiplication tables. We started out with 1 times 2, and worked our way up to 9 times 9. We did it repetitively until we finally mastered them.  This was basic to learning more complicated things in mathematics.

Multiplication, of course, is different from addition.  Before we learned multiplication tables, we had to learn addition, then subtraction.  It was just another arithmetic process in order advance our mathematical skill for more complicated functions later.

Pastors in the world think “addition”, but not “multiplication”. They think about adding one plus one, usually in the context of growing their congregations which becomes their metric for their “success”.  They don’t think about adding one who adds one, who adds one, who adds one, etc.   This is commonplace with pastors in the developing world.

Many pastors in the developing world haven’t thought about duplicating leaders – bringing and training up a replacement for example.  As a result, if something happens to a pastor in a church, the church often dies or is weakened.

Pastors are not the only ones who ignore the multiplication principle.  It applies to every believer for we belong to the “priesthood of believers.”  One of the things a believer should do is follow Jesus in our lives, and make His priorities our priorities. As the passage says, if we are in Him, we will live as Jesus lived. Seeing how He built the Kingdom should be instructional to us.

Jesus didn’t mass produce leaders or disciples. Instead, He intentionally focused on a small number of them.  His model wasn’t to rent an auditorium and have large leadership classes. Instead, He developed close personal relationships with promising men and women and invested time with them by mentoring them.

But his mentoring had one goal which included the concept of multiplication.  He took on a small number of disciples, who took on a small number of disciples, who took on a small number of disciples, and the results were exponential.

We use the following illustration to get people to realize the difference between multiplication and addition. Imagine that I have a $100 bill in one hand and a $1 bill in the other.  I ask my audience: Would you rather that: (a) I give you $100 a day for 30 days, or (b) I give you $1 a day doubled every day (so day two you would get $2 and day three you would get $4)?

Without thinking, many have chosen (a) – which results in $3,000.  They often focus on the fact that $100 looks like real money, and $1 seems so small. If, however, you had chosen (b) – i.e., getting $1 a day doubled for 30 days, you would have chosen well. It would be worth $536,870,912.  Just a little more than $3,000.

Jesus was in the disciple making business, but His principle was to have disciples making disciples, not for him to do it. He only spent three years with his disciples, knowing that His time on earth was short. In Matthew 28, He exhorts us in the Great Commission to “Go make disciples of all nations.” He understood the power of multiplication.

My illustration shows is the difference between addition and multiplication. It has a huge implication on how you approach ministry. You might think that mentoring one man or woman (or a small group) may not be significant, but if you instill in them the kingdom principle to mentor others, you start down the path of how Jesus built His kingdom.

The absence of this principle in modern-day Christianity can have catastrophic effects. As I have noted before, France was 75% Christian two generations ago.  Now it is 5%. I’ve heard the saying that Christianity has been one generation away from extinction for 2000 years. That’s a simplification, but there is an element of truth to it.

To those out there who have a ministry to small groups or even just one-on-one mentoring, the multiplication principle must be instilled in your audience.  It’s not enough for your audience to just soak up your investment in them. As the passage above suggests, “if you are to have Jesus in you, then you must live as Jesus did”.  Note the word is “must”, not “should” or “might”.  It is an imperative, not an option.

How did Jesus live and build His kingdom?  He lived by selecting a few disciples, and mentoring them over three years. They, in turn, mentored others (Barnabas, Timothy, etc.).  That’s how Jesus did it. That’s how he wants us to do it. We need to think multiplication, not addition.

The challenge here is to be aware that the kingdom principle of multiplication must be passed on to the next generation.  They need to own it and take responsibility to pass on what you are teaching them to others. This kingdom value that must be instilled in all that you mentor or minister to.  Without multiplication, you end up with $3,000 instead of over $536 million in the illustration.  A big difference, but quite achievable.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Be sure to instill in your mentees a mindset of multiplication. Get them to live as Jesus did by mentoring someone else who mentors someone else, and so on.

FURTHER STUDY:  For your kids or grandkids, you can go online and have them learn multiplication with flash cards:  http://www.learninggamesforkids.com/math_multiplication_games.html

WORSHIP:  Listen to Chris Tomlin sing “God of the City” where the lyrics say, “Greater things have yet to be done in this City”:

COMMENT:  I would be delighted at comments on this or any other post. You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page, or emailing me at otterpater@nc.rr.com.

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