We are talking much about the idea of multiplication and we hear much from all over. There is no doubt that it is important; needed and that was the strategy of Jesus. Many times and on different ways, we teach others what is the difference between adding and multiplying. We draw maps; we kind of try to calculate how many people shall hear the gospel in the next generation. I love that part of training especially because I am a mathematician, I love numbers and elegant neat charts.
None of us needs to be convicted to multiplication, so why the reality around us does not look like what we can see at these beautiful charts? Now, I can hear voices of those reading my statement. Everybody will easily find plenty reasons why that does not work. I would like to add one more reason to that long list. That is the thinking I can see around me lately and what is on my heart. When I read the book “T4T: A Discipleship Re-Revolution” (Steve Smith and Ying Kai) one thing draw my attention. There in the chapter 4 are described two models of discipleship, one is Jesus model, and the other one is of Paul. Authors write that many contemporary models of discipleship are based on Jesus’ model, which is based on physical presence among disciples. Paul’s model is leading from distance, preparation of disciples and leaders to do the task when he has to go to another place. That does not mean that Paul is not in touch with them once he is gone. He writes letters sends coworkers and prays for them. But we need to see that they grow and develop without his presence.
The difference between these models punched me, but are they really so different? Jesus said to their disciples: “…it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you…” (John 16:7 NIV).
Were disciples of Jesus left alone after Jesus went to heaven? No. Holy Spirit came, Spirit of Jesus, God in third Person.
Did Paul, when he left a town in which the ecclesia (community of believers) was established, leave them alone? No, they were left with somebody without whom they cannot do anything: the Holy Spirit, Spirit of Jesus. He was with them. Paul taught them to depend on and become addicted not on him, Paul but on Jesus.
And it is here, where we find that element of risk. Jesus “took risk” choosing such and not different disciples and leaving in their hands that enormous task, matter of death and life: the gospel, as it is the power of God that brings salvation. We know that after the Pentecost disciples started very well, but we do not know everything, we do not know all their struggles, successes and failures. Only a few of them wrote letters, which give us today some light on their lives. We do not know if always and everywhere they did the same. Probably not as every of them were different. The similar thing is with the ecclesias started by Paul. We know that they struggled with many obstacles. They were not perfect. But the gospel was spread all over the ancient world and had huge impact. There is no doubt about that.
I think that one of the key elements of multiplication is teaching people to depend on Jesus, not on us as mature leaders and allowing them for autonomy and maybe even for failure (?!).
Somebody one day trusted me that I would be able to share Christ with others and lead them in a group. Of course I was not perfect in that as was my leader. I made a lot of mistakes and I still do. I am not a perfect leader.
Of course, not all of our leaders will be doing everything as good as we might do.
Of course, there is a risk of mistake. Jesus also knew that. The very history of the church is full of councils solving what is right and what is not. They also struggled with heresies. Gnosis was present there in the first century.
But the gospel was carried to our times with its unique DNA.
As we have entered a new year, and many of us like to reflect and come up with resolutions, I wish you courage in leaving the gospel in the hands of the people you are discipling, and trusting that Jesus is surely with them always, to the very end of the age and will enable them to overcome.