The vision of Shepherd’s Gate Lutheran Church is to be a regional church with global impact through the multiplying of disciples, leaders and churches.
Jesus had three years to build an enterprise that would extend both regionally beyond Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria and globally to revolutionize the lives of those from every nation and people group. Jesus, eternal God and sovereign Lord, could have employed any strategy He wanted to advance His campaign. He could have attracted the masses to the world’s largest arenas to be dazzled by His miraculous power and amazing teachings. He could have gathered great quantities of wealth to launch a public relations communication plan to saturate the entire Roman Empire with His message. He could have built a political machine to not only rival but overtake the Jewish ruling class of priests and the Roman governor assigned to Israel. However, He chose a method to build His Church that first appeared ineffective, but surprisingly became the greatest movement our world has ever seen.
Jesus chose 12 men to follow Him daily. In this context of “doing life together” Jesus not only taught His disciples, but shared with them His way of life, His love and compassion, His values and vision, His faith and worldview. After three years’ work, the results were not impressive. Jesus only had 11 disciples and a few women to show for it. What kind of world movement was that?
Actually, it turned out to be pure genius because Jesus employed the principle of multiplication. Rather than teaching the masses in a superficial, informational way, Jesus poured His life into a few in a deep and transformational way. When the igniter fire of the Holy Spirit filled these disciples, they became bold ambassadors of their Lord and King as they both proclaimed and lived the Gospel in such compelling ways they were accused of turning the world upside down!
We must capture again the genius of Jesus to multiply disciples instead of incrementally adding members to the church. The church in America has experienced a slow 50 year decline in growth and influence in our nation. This is even though the church today has more resources such as the state-of-the-art technology, quality music, educated and trained pastors and leaders and the best educational curriculum there has ever been. Something else is clearly needed! And that something is a Spirit-empowered commitment to multiplying disciples. We must not merely continue doing ministry the way we’ve been doing ministry; otherwise, we will only keep losing ground in our mission to fill the world with dynamic disciples.
What does multiplication of disciples look like? Here are a few characteristics. Focus on a few others by building deep relationships. Go deep by both learning the Word of God and living it by doing what Jesus commanded. (Go through the Gospels and list the commands of Jesus and then commit to doing what Jesus said. That will take you deep!) Make leaders, not just learners. Begin with the goal to multiply leaders to begin new groups. Make the process (and curriculum) easy to repeat with others.
Next month I will give specific examples of how to multiply disciples and how you can be a part of it.