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  • Writer's pictureDarrell Stetler II

How to Multiply Disciples Who Make Disciples

Updated: Sep 27, 2023

A plan to multiply disciples is not an “add on” to a discipleship strategy, it is core to a biblical discipleship strategy. We will have to empower others. Here's what the Apostle Paul said about it:

“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” 2 Timothy 2:2

How to empower Disciples Who Make Disciples

Multiplication takes 2 things: clarity and simplicity.

Clarity means that you are completely clear about:

  • Your definition of discipleship: What is the goal? And how is it different from just attending worship or being saved?

  • Your entrance to discipleship: how can someone become an active disciple in your context?

  • Your pathway of discipleship: What you want to teach and train at each step along the way?

We talked extensively about creating discipleship clarity in the early chapters of this book. But what do I mean by simplicity?

Why I failed to multiply disciples

Don’t be like me! I failed to write down, systematize, and make duplicatable, the discipleship I did with people early on in my ministry. I depended too much on my own set of gifts and experiences to make disciples. I built my discipleship plan around my Bible college education, my knowledge of Scripture, my spiritual gift of teaching, etc. I didn’t create a clear plan that someone without those particular gifts and skills could easily follow.

An Assembly Line of Disciples Who Make Disciples

Today, Henry Ford is thought in pop culture of as the guy who invented the automobile and started the Ford Motor Company. But Henry Ford didn’t invent the automobile, he just created a way to multiply their availability: The assembly line.

For most people who were inventors of “horseless carriages,” they trained expert mechanics and machinists who could build an automobile from start to finish. These were remarkable people! They knew every bolt and piston on the machine. Their expertise was incredible!

But when Ford designed the assembly line, he decentralized expertise into its component parts. No longer did someone creating an automobile need to be an expert on every part of it; they only needed to know how to build one component. The people who built the suspension didn’t need to be engine experts. The people who painted the car didn’t need to know how the starter worked. Each person could do their job, and be great at it, and leave the full picture to someone else.

What if you could design a discipleship plan that was more like an assembly line? What if your "disciples who make disciples" didn’t need to be experts in every area?

That’s simplicity.

Communicate your desire for multiplication from the beginning.

Plan your communication well, and then work you plan. Start saying from the very beginning:

“We’re planning for a multiplying discipleship revolution. We’re not really planning to do just a little Sunday School program, we’re planning to make disciples who make disciples. I’m doing this with you for 12 months, then I’ll continue with you, but you have to go do it with someone else… and you’re going to do such a good job, they’re going to do it with someone else. That's what 2 Timothy 2:22 means.”

Tell them: Do you know how many years it would take to win the whole world, if we doubled disciples every year, all 8 billion people? 35 years!

The value of simplicity

At the beginning of this chapter, I quoted Paul writing to Timothy: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” 2 Timothy 2:22

Most scholars agree that 2 Timothy is the final letter that Paul wrote before his martyrdom. He was writing to Timothy, over 800 miles away in Ephesus. He has never met many of Timothy’s disciples. And for sure, he’ll never meet the people that Timothy’s disciples are going to disciple!

He has no idea whether they:

  • Can read or write

  • Have a spiritual gift of teaching

  • Are from the same cultural segment

Yet, somehow he has left behind a discipleship plan for Timothy that is clear and simple enough that he is sure other people can do it!

Bring this to your people and hold it up before them. Quote 2 Timothy 2:22 frequently, and point out the 4 generations of disciples in that one verse:

  • Paul

  • Timothy

  • Those that Timothy disciples

  • Those discipled by those who Timothy discipled

It isn’t hopeless. Your high school dropouts can make a disciple. Your poor people, your readers, your non-readers… Your people can do it!

They need you to believe in them, and create a pathway that is simple and clear.

The Goal of NewStart Discipleship is disciples who make disciples

When I began my discipleship training company, NewStart Discipleship, my goal was to empower people to make disciples without taking on the load of becoming expert Bible teachers. Instead, I want to let them function more fully in their own gift zone.

My job is to faithfully exercise my teaching gift in a daily 5-minute teaching video that explains the Bible reading of the day. I want to free up the person who is the discipleship mentor:

  • to be a friend and encourager

  • to answer questions that are specific

  • to be a prayer partner

  • to be a follow-up ninja

The Goal of NewStart is to release the possibility of a discipleship multiplying movement, because we make it possible for anyone to become disciples who make disciples.

I tell my church people:

“Good news: You don’t have to be the guru who has all the answers. You can be the friend and coach who helps people develop good habits and walks with them through a clear, repeatable process. You get to be the encourager!”

How Can I design a discipleship plan that multiplies?

Here are a couple possibilities:

1. You could develop your own discipleship curriculum.

I’m certain that if you gave it a try, you could develop a discipleship pathway that was both clear and simple.

2. You could hire a discipleship pastor to develop a discipleship curriculum for you.

You could hire someone to come on staff at your church and ask them to develop it for you. They could do the graphic design, record the videos, build the web-based parts of your process.

Of course, this would mean that you’d need to search for someone, interview them, wait for them to be able to move, then pay their moving expenses, pay their salary and housing allowance. (Average staff member is what, now? $50,000/year?) I’m sure they could do it, too. How many years do you think they would need to spend in development?

3. You could hire me and use the discipleship curriculum already in place.

NewStart Discipleship is actually pretty affordable. At the time of this writing, it’s $50/month, or you can pay annually at $500/year.

I do think that I can give you a cross-country shortcut by taking a plan for making disciples who make disciples that’s:

  • already developed

  • Already clear and simple

  • Ready to multiply

  • Ready to take the load of development off of you

  • Ready to take the teaching load off of your people

If that sounds like what you need, you can get all the details about a system that can make disciples who make disciples.

creating discipleship strategy for small churches

Action Steps for Multiplying Disciples

1. Develop a sermon on 2 Timothy 2:22.

Plan to preach it once a year, and never preach it without asking for commitment from your people:

Will you join me in obeying this forgotten command to move beyond the 'basic Christian life' and into the Kingdom business of multiplying disciples? If so, come forward, and let's have a commissioning prayer.

2. Think through your discipleship process again.

If it requires "clarity and simplicity," then how can you make it that way? Do you know how to simply explain your discipleship process to someone in your church in 60 seconds? More importantly, could your DISCIPLES do it to someone else?

If not, how can you clarify and simplify your communication of it?

This is taken from my discipleship coaching course. If you're interested in more, click to learn more about discipleship coaching.

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