Summary: The Great Commission is not about making converts. Rather, it is about making disciples and that task is not completed until each new disciple is enabled to obey everything Jesus commanded, including the command to go and make disciples. This leads to multiplication.
A. Today, I want to talk about the strategy of multiplication.
1. Let’s start with a riddle and a joke.
2. What do you call a hen that can add, subtract, and multiply? A math-a-ma-chicken.
3. In the days of Noah, when the animals left the ark, Noah told them to go forth and multiply.
a. After some time, Noah came upon two snakes who were just lying there sunning themselves, so Noah asked them, “Why aren’t you multiplying?”
b. The snakes replied, “We can’t, we’re adders.”
B. As disciples of Jesus, we need to employ the strategy of multiplication.
1. Obviously, the goal for disciples of Jesus should never be subtraction or division.
2. But even though addition is better than subtraction or division, the strategy God has in mind for His kingdom is multiplication.
3. There are at least two biblical passages that communicate the strategy of multiplication.
C. The first is our scripture reading for today – Matthew 28:19-20.
1. Jesus said: “19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
2. This is the command of discipleship – to go and make disciples of people from all nations.
3. From these verses, we learn that making disciples includes two things:
a. First, the initial baptizing of those who believe and want to follow Jesus.
b. Second, the continuing teaching of those disciples how to observe and obey everything Jesus commands.
4. It is in the second part of making disciples that the multiplication process takes place.
5. The baptizing of converts only adds people to the church, but the teaching them to obey everything leads to multiplication.
6. When the convert learns and grows and becomes the one doing the discipling and teaching, then multiplication takes place.
7. The strategy for multiplication embedded in the great commission is: to make disciples, who make disciples, who make disciples, and so on, until Christ returns.
D. The second passage that communicates the strategy of multiplication is 2 Timothy 2:2.
1. Paul wrote: What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
2. This passage speaks of four generations of disciples and disciple making: First there’s Paul, then his disciple, Timothy; then “faithful men” whom Timothy will teach; and finally, those “others” who will be taught about Jesus and His ways by the faithful men.
3. This is a beautiful picture about the way multiplication works.
E. Let’s consider the math of discipleship multiplication for just a minute.
1. Let’s imagine if you or I were able to bring 12 people to Christ each year (1 per month) for 10 years, but we didn’t help them to grow in their discipleship to the point of being a disciple maker, then the result after 10 years would be 121 disciples – me or you, and the 120 new disciples.
2. But if you or I not only brought one person to Christ each year, but then we helped them grow in their discipleship to the point that they were being disciple makers, then the result would be much different.
3. Look at the chart:
Year Converts Made Disciples Made
Year 1 1 + 12 = 13 1 + 1 = 2
Year 2 13 + 12 = 25 2 + 2 = 4
Year 3 25 + 12 = 37 4 + 4 = 8
Year 4 37 + 12 = 49 8 + 8 = 16
Year 5 49 + 12 = 61 16 + 16 = 32
Year 6 61 + 12 = 73 32 + 32 = 64
Year 10 109 + 12 = 121 512 + 512 = 1,024
Year 20 229 + 12 = 241 524,288 + 524,288 = 1,048,576
4. Notice that it takes six years for the strategy of multiplication to catch up with the strategy of addition because multiplication is a slower process initially.
5. But at the 10 year point, the multiplication strategy is ten times ahead of the other strategy.
6. And at the 20 year point, the multiplication strategy is about 5000 times ahead of addition.
7. This is just an example of what could happen and how it could happen – it assumes the retention of every convert, and the regular multiplication of every disciple.
8. Neither of those things are likely to happen, and yet we can see what God can do through multiplication and it is amazing.
F. The key is to make disciples who are able to make disciples, and not just to make converts.