2 Timothy 2:2
Authentic discipleship repeats itself, where the disciple becomes a disciple-maker, reproducing the discipleship process. Plainly stated, multiplication occurs when we see disciples making disciples who make disciples. In ALL that we do, we need to be centering people on Christ in a way that is embraced and can be reproduced by them toward others. Are we working ourselves out of our job? Do you believe that those who you are discipling can disciple others without you? Is what you are doing reproducible?
In 2 Timothy 2:2, we see 4 spiritual generations in that one verse: Paul, Timothy, faithful, others. If it was Paul’s ambition to disciple everyone, that would be growth by addition. However, Paul saw it was healthier and more effective to disciple others to be disciple-makers. If our vision of discipleship stops with the disciple, it falls short of the example Jesus left for us. Multiplication opposed to addition.
The outcome of the journey to become more like Christ through the Holy Spirit who is in us, is that Jesus creates a multiplying movement — by commissioning us frail mortals, who have God in us — to go and represent Him in the world.
We begin living on His mission by being known as people who are for others (“for-themness”) and that actually like other human beings including those who are far from God (regardless of the distance). Then we too are a people who find tangible ways to serve and bless others. The key shift is when we become one of a particular group of people. They stop being “those people” and together we start being “us.” We work out what the Church needs to look like to disciple in that specific context, to be incarnated into that time and place. The message of the gospel remains the same, but we as missionaries (disciple-makers) do the hard work of cross-cultural translation. As we go, we see people become disciples of Jesus, and thus the Spirit comes to live in them, and so the multiplication effect increases.
The litmus test of a disciple-maker is not that he or she is making disciples, but that he is making disciples who have gone on to be disciple-makers. It can be written this way:
I do. You watch. We talk.
I do. You help. We talk.
You do. I help. We talk.
You do. I watch. We talk.
You do. Someone else watches. I do. Someone else watches.
Disciple making is an on-going process. The last line in the above quote is very similar to the first; it has gone full circle. The original disciple-maker doesn’t consider his or her job to be finished; they have just intentionally sought out someone else to disciple, as did the one who was being discipled. They too embraced Christ’s mission to make disciples to the ends of the earth. That’s multiplication; it has gone to another spiritual generation.
Therefore, we need to continue considering the spiritual generations when we are discipling. As we saw in 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul laid out 4 spiritual generations of discipleship, perhaps that's a good place to start.