Why is Reproducing Disciples so Important?

Taken from Revisiting the Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman and Bobby Harrington

Reproduction is evidence your discipling program is beginning to multiply, because until you see what is emerging from this person in whom you’ve invested, you really don’t know if you’ve gotten through. Until you see the fruit of your discipling in reproduction, you’re not sure you’ve finished your work. That was always in the mind of Jesus from the beginning. He’s not just looking to the next generation; he’s looking to the generation beyond that generation and the generation beyond that. He’s looking always to the fulfillment of his plan to reach the world. In his mind, there’s no such thing as global missions as distinct from local missions. God loves every person in the world.

How does this principle work?

When you start with a just a handful, you recognize the necessity of multiplication. It begins with the person in whom you have invested some time beginning to replicate that in the life of someone else. Let’s not get the idea we’re the only one involved in this. Thankfully, there are others who are impacting that life more significantly than our involvement—moms, dads, husbands, wives, and children. We may be a significant part of the process, but disciple-making is a process. We’re getting a lot of help from others who can compensate for some of our deficiencies. Seeing something happen in the lives of others made Jesus rejoice when He could anticipate the time His investment in a few would begin to pay dividends for eternity. We want to do the same thing.

Is the principle of reproduction for all Christians?

I see the word disciple in an inclusive sense of all followers of Jesus, designating the church of the redeemed. The great commission was given to the whole church. Apart from this being the commission to the whole church, how would we ever fulfill his purpose in creation? How would God’s love in making us ever find fulfillment in a people created in His image to know Him and to love Him? So I have to see the Great Commission as a way of life for every believer, every follower. We’re all ministering priests; we are in this together and that’s when we’ll rejoice together. It’s when we see this as a lifestyle, not a gift, but as a command that it really begins to resonate in our life as a plan by which we can measure our steps.

Whatever we’re doing, wherever He plants us, we can follow these principles. We have to work out the details in the specific culture where we are and the time spent. That’s going to continually change. A lot of programs and techniques will change. For example, Jesus didn’t have the technology that we have today. He didn’t have a car. He probably would have gotten around on a donkey if he didn’t have to walk. Those are just methods and programs that facilitate how we can fulfill our mission. Discipling comes down to a way of life. If we can get that into the way we live every day, we’ll walk on tiptoes. Nothing is irrelevant or peripheral. It’s all part of the plan. What are you going through today? You don’t see it working out, but God’s working through it to accomplish a purpose that’s still good. Trust Him. He’ll not leave you alone.

How does love result in multiplication?

Love for lost people is not anything we work up in the flesh, but it is an overflow of the love of God in the heart of a disciple. Only that kind of love will penetrate the darkness of a dark, sin-infested world, because it’s love that cannot be denied. It doesn’t mean they’re going to receive us with delight, but they have to recognize there’s something unnatural about the compassion and concern flowing out of you into the world.

You don’t engineer it. You don’t announce a big meeting; you don’t get on TV and say whatever big thing you’re doing. It will overflow and make itself known when it’s genuine, which in a sense is getting back to what we were talking about in being filled with the Holy Spirit. Like Paul said, “Be continually filled with the spirit,” (Ephesians 5:18) where “be” is used as a continuing sense of the verb. Unfortunately, I think for most of us, it’s more of a fluctuating thing. There are high points and low points, and that’s why we need reaffirming of what we know is God’s privilege and God’s word. That comes out in just yielding to the fullness of the Holy Spirit. We sometimes call it revival—a revival experience I think is what Paul is talking about when he describes being filled with the Spirit, and it’s what is evident at Pentecost.

When people are coming to Christ, their lives are transformed and they have evidence of it in their lifestyle. I can thank God and say, “He’s doing something here with us that’s not of this world.” We dare not try to limit the dimensions of what God accomplished when Jesus died on the cross. The blood of Christ goes deeper than the stain of sin has gone. I believe God loves us so much that when Jesus died, He died to solve the sin problem and who am I to question the efficacy of what Christ did at Calvary. I fall short, but I know what He did was perfect and it just makes me hunger and thirst for more righteousness, and more of Him and the Word.

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