Spiritual multiplication is a process that goes through four distinct phases. An explanation of these phases aids in the understanding of this concept.
Phase 1: Evangelizing. The first phase in spiritual multiplication occurs when you share your faith with other people. The command to witness was implied in the Great Commission: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20). There can be no short- cut. It is essential that you share Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, you will begin to see results, that is, fruit. When an individual repents and receives Christ as his Savior and Lord, you begin the second phase of the multiplication process.
Phase 2: Personal Follow-up. Phase 2 of the multiplication process occurs when you personally start to follow up a new Christian. You begin to meet with him on a regular basis to give him the basic care and teaching he needs to grow in Christ. While in phase 1 all your ministry time was spent in witnessing, now in phase 2 you are beginning to devote a growing percentage of your time to the work of building the new Christian. You continue to share Christ even while you are involved in the work of personal follow-up. It is important not to neglect this work. Part of your work in follow-up involves challenging the new believer to a public identification with Christ and a proclaiming of the gospel, that is witnessing. When the new believer begins to do this, you have, in effect, doubled your evangelistic outreach as the result of working with another believer to get him involved in witnessing.
It is important to remember that witnessing by itself does not go far enough to fulfill the great Commission. At a certain point, either when a new Christian has grown sufficiently in Christ or when he leads someone else to Christ, a new phase must begin. You must start to train the new Christian to follow up someone else personally (i.e., ground that person in the faith). This is what ha been previously defined as discipleship training, or “discipling” for short. When you begin phase 3 of the multiplication process.
Phase 3: Discipling. Phase 3 begins when you start to train the Christian with whom you are working to personally follow up another new Christian. This is a distinct phase because now you are working with a new Christian to enable him not only to keep growing in Christ but also to become effective in the work of personal follow-up. This adds people not only to the witnessing team but also to the fruit-conservation team. Phase 3 is obviously a longer phase than phase 2 because it takes much longer to train a new Christian to do personal follow-up than to help him begin to grow in Christ. The work of phase 3 goes through three distinct levels:
- Teaching him to follow up
- Teaching him to teach others to follow up
- Teaching him to teach others to teach others to follow up
The goal is the multiplication of teachers. This is the truth Paul sought to relate to Timothy when he said, “The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses [level 1] entrust to reliable men [level 2] who will also be qualified to teach others [level 3]” (2 Tim. 2:2).
Examine this phase more closely and you will find a great increase in the number of evangelistic contacts. This increase is the product of multiplication of laborers, not the product of increased witnessing on your part. An even more significant point comes out if you examine phase 3: There are now more people to do follow-up. Now you are multiplying your effectiveness in outreach. It is also important to notice that as you go into discipleship training with someone, you will probably see more fruit and be forced to start follow-up all over again with someone else.
You probably have a question at this point: Why is there another phase for multiplication?
Multiplication really begins when two factors are present:
- A person has been discipled through level 3 (2 Tim. 2:2).
- A person actually begins to take someone else through a discipling process.
Thus, multiplication must go beyond merely training and teaching, the goal of phase 3, to implementation. And this brings us to phase 4.
Phase 4: Multiplying. Phase 4 is the multiplying stage of the multiplication process. This is where 2 Timothy 2:2 has become a reality in your ministry. Phase 4 occurs when a person, followed up and discipled by you, is following up and discipling others. This is the goal of your follow-up ministry and can be accomplished no other way than through one-to-one involvement and training. The fulfillment of the Great Commission is a reality only when 2 Timothy 2:2 becomes a reality. We must evangelize, follow up, train, and send if we are to see the world evangelized. If you develop only one truly multiplying disciple each year (not an unreasonable goal), examine what growth will take place for the gospel outreach as a product of your life over a six-year period. As a result of making a commitment to begin each day by praying for a natural opportunity to witness, let’s assume that one evangelistic contact per week is made by each disciple:
- Begin year: 1 disciple (you)
- End year: 2 disciples (you, plus 1)
- Evangelistic contacts: 50 approximately
- Begin year: 2 disciples
- End year: 4 disciples
- Evangelistic contacts: 100 approximately
- Begin year: 4 disciples
- End year: 8 disciples
- Evangelistic contacts: 200 approximately
- Begin year: 8 disciples
- End year: 16 disciples
- Evangelistic contacts: 400 approximately
- Begin year: 16 disciples
- End year: 32 disciples
- Evangelistic contacts: 800 approximately
- Begin year: 32 disciples
- End year: 64 disciples
- Evangelistic contacts: 1,600 approximately
In a six-year period, if you disciple only 6 people, you will have caused the eventual development of 64 disciples and the evangelistic confrontation of 1,600 people per year. This is how the multiplication process works. If you continued the process for ten years, you would have personally discipled 10 people and witnessed to 50 a year- but you will have caused the development of 1,024 disciples and the annual confrontation of approximately 25,000 people with the gospel. This isn’t just mathematical juggling but the logical outgrowth of faithful working for the Lord.
The most important “why” of personal follow-up is answered by a firm grasp of the vision of multiplication. My hope is that enough Christians catch this vision to fulfill the Great Commission. A survey of the rapid expansion in world population growth makes the need for multiplication urgently clear.
– From “Dynamics of Personal Follow-up,” Gary Kuhne. Used by permission of the author.