My dear friend Michael Titus serves as the country Director for J-Life Tanzania. Michael grew up in a Muslim home, yet Christ miraculously appeared to him in a dream. The next day, a Sunday, he walked almost 15 miles to the nearest church. When he arrived, the worship service had already started. Fearing the intentions of this young Muslim man, the pastor approached Michael in the back of the church. When he heard of Michael’s dream, he fully explained the gospel to him, and Michael placed his faith in Christ before the message was ever preached. That day, everything changed, including Michael’s relationship with his parents. He was only 18 years old, but he was dead to his family. He had been kicked out of the house and was living on the streets, gathering wood from the forest to make charcoal to sell for survival. A pastor took Michael in, became his spiritual father and discipled him. By the age of 19, Michael had planted his first church. By the age of 30, he was training other church planters who together had planted over 3000 churches across Tanzania, many in Muslim regions.
A few years ago, when I was serving as J-Life’s East Africa Regional Coordinator, I traveled to Tanzania to encourage Michael and his leadership team. We prayed. We dreamed. We cast vision. We did strategic planning. On that trip, Michael and I boarded a boat to head to the island of Zanzibar. Sounds exotic, right? It was amazing. I had no idea of Zanzibar’s history involving slave trade from the east coast of Africa. Zanzibar is a part of Tanzania. The island has one million inhabitants, but only 16,000 Christians. Zanzibar is 99% Muslim. Four days after my visit, three churches were burned down by radical Muslims.
Michael had gathered 10 young leaders that day who were being discipled to lead a disciple-making movement on Zanzibar. I was honored and humbled to meet with these young men and women. In the African context, everyone wants to be a great preacher, the next TD Jakes, Reinhard Bonnke, or Billy Graham. In fact, one of my pastor friends in Kenya has named his two sons Billy Graham and Reinhard Bonnke. With that understanding, I asked these young leaders if they would like for me to train them to be great preachers.
“Would you like for me to train you to be a great preacher? Can you imagine if I could train all ten of you to preach the gospel so powerfully that each of you could lead one thousand people to faith in Christ each year? Would you like that?”
Of course, they all agreed that would be a great idea, so I began to do some simple math with them.
If all ten of you could preach so powerfully so that you could lead one thousand people to Christ every year…
…after one year you would have 10,000 Christians.
…after two years you would have 20,000 Christians… more than Zanzibar has right now!
…after three years you would have 30,000 Christians.
…after four years you would have 40,000 Christians.
…after five years you would have 50,000 Christians.
…after ten years you would have 100,000 Christians.
…after twenty years you would have 200,000 Christians.
…after thirty years you would have 300,000 Christians.
It would take 100 years to reach all 1,000,000 people on Zanzibar.
Then I said to these young leaders…
“Instead of training you to be great preachers, imagine if I was able to train each of you to make one disciple a year. Then the disciple you made was capable of making one disciple a year, and their disciples would also make one disciple a year.”
…after one year, there would we twenty disciple-makers.
…after two years, there would be 40 disciple-makers.
…after three years, there would be 80 disciple-makers.
…after four years, there would be 160 disciple-makers.
…after five years, there would be 320 disciple-makers.
…after ten years, there would be 10,240 disciple-makers.
…after fifteen years, there would be 327,680 disciple-makers.
…after seventeen years, there would be 1,310,720 disciple-makers… more than the population of Zanzibar!
…after twenty-two years, there would be 41,943,040 disciple-makers… more than the population of Tanzania!
…after twenty-seven years, there would be 1,342,177,280 disciple-makers… more than the population of Africa!
…after thirty years, there would be 10,737,418,240 disciple-makers… more than the population of the planet!
This is the incredible difference between a ministry that adds believers through preaching and one that multiplies disciples through disciple-making. This is why Jesus’ plan from the very beginning has been one of multiplying disciple-makers.
“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. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
In Luke 6:40, Jesus tells us that “The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.” If the student is going to “be like” their teacher, and their teacher discipled them, then what does that mean they will do? A disciple can only “be like” the one who discipled them if they in turn disciple others. Built right into the definition of being a disciple is the necessity to make disciples.
The 4 Chair Discipling process sees us take someone from Spiritually Lost to Believer, then from Believer to Worker, and then from Worker to Disciple-Maker. And how do we know when we are a disciple-maker?
Look behind you. What do you see? Who is following you, and what are they doing? Is their life producing spiritual fruit?
We know that we are a disciple-maker when we have disciples who are making disciples.
For Further Consideration:
– What does the math look like in your ministry? Is your ministry growing by addition or multiplication?
– What do you see when you look over your shoulder? Who is following you? Who are your disciples?
-What do you think needs to happen for your disciples to begin making disciples? What’s the next step in your disciple-making journey?
By Doug Holliday of Sonlife