As someone who spends nearly an equal amount of time in Africa as in California, I understand this. In Africa we work with teams that are reaching, baptizing, and multiplying disciples—yes, thousands of people reached. But, in California, not so much.
But this brings to mind some thoughts:
- The key is that I take my place in the church that is ‘going’ rather than the church that is sitting/gathering regardless of what context I am in. By this I mean that my joy is to be able to influence another person to more wholeheartedly follow Jesus. This ‘going and discipling’ is the true shape of the church and it is where I find life even though I, personally, am not a typical evangelist.
- The speed in which disciples are made and reproduced is not really the issue. Jesus spoke of fruitfulness but never the speed of reproduction. The latter is not normally under my control.
- It only takes one disciple this year. The concept of disciples making disciples is so profound that we often miss it. I get to influence one other person toward becoming a wholehearted follower of Jesus. Such a lover of God will, inevitably, do the same. If ten people begin to do this in one year, and this good seed reproduces in like manner, do the math:
Year 1: 10 disciples
Year 2: 20 disciples
Year 3: 40 disciples
Year 4: 80 disciples
Year 5: 160 disciples
Year 6: 320 disciples
Year 7: 640 disciples
Year 8: 1,280 disciples
Year 9: 2,560 disciples
Year 10: 5,120 disciples (now the size of a large mega-church)
Year 11: 10,240 disciples
Year 12: 10,480 disciples
Year 13: 40,960 disciples
Year 14: 81,920 disciples
Year 15: 163,840 disciples
By year 20: over 5 million disciples
By year 26: over 320 million disciples (roughly the population of USA)
Remember that this is all based on only making one wholehearted follower in one year who can then do the same. And, we only began with ten disciples doing this whereas one could easily imagine thousands doing the same in our own country alone.
My point is that we do not need to get overly enamored with the numbers-thing one way or the other. We just get to be followers of the Majestic One and share that joy with another until he/she grasps that there is no greater joy than finding ways to love/reach/care/influence another to live out this ongoing, reproductive life of the Kingdom. Such influence for Jesus Christ is within our grasp and, again I say, there is no greater joy than simply being a part.
What can you/I envision for the next one year?