Addition vs. Multiplication
Growth by multiplication is much more effective than growth by addition. Consider these two savings plans. In plan A, you add $100 to your savings every day for a month. In plan B, you put a penny into your savings on the first day, double your input the second day and continue to double the input for the whole month. Which of the two plans do you think would accumulate more money? If you chose plan B you were correct. Plan A would accumulate $3,000, but plan B results in $10,737,418. With multiplication, you can start with something very small and quickly develop into something very large. (Click here to view the charts.)
The principles of multiplication and addition apply to world evangelism as well. There are two basic approaches of leading people to Christ. In one approach, all our energy is spent on evangelism and none on discipleship for the new believers. The other approach combines evangelism and discipleship. After a person has been led to the Lord, he is discipled to maturity and trained to lead others to Christ.
Addition happens in churches that preach the gospel message and weekly have new converts. Yet, once the people are saved, there is little or no spiritual follow-up. This often results in stagnation in the life of the new believer. Although the new believer is saved, he never learns to reproduce himself by leading others to Christ.
Churches that use multiplication techniques generally spend 20- 40% of their time on evangelism and the rest of the time on comprehensive discipleship. As a result, not only is the church leading people to Christ, the converts are also leading people to Christ. Each convert learns to multiply himself.
When I was 16, a friend and I led about 15 people to the Lord during the summer. I felt we were being very productive because we led so many people to the Lord. I was so busy witnessing that I spent very little time on follow-up and discipleship. The next summer I returned to find 15 backslidden Christians. I had left them as "babes in Christ," and they remained "babes in Christ." Not only were they making no effort to share Christ with others, they were actually turning people away from Christ because of their poor testimonies. This, of course, is the second reason it is important to spend a great deal of time on in-depth discipleship.
Often Christians feel there is not much we, as individuals, can do for the cause of Christ. One person, however, can make a tremendous difference. A believer does not need extraordinary skills or great financial resources to make a noticeable impact for the cause of Christ. All a believer has to do is be consistent in using the principles of multiplication.
Consider this possibility. A Christian leads only one person to Christ each year, but spends the rest of the year in extensive discipleship. By the end of the year, both the original Christian and his convert each lead someone else to Christ, and the process starts all over again. If this simple process continued for 25 more years there would be over 33 million new Christians. Theoretically, the world’s population of 6.3 billion people could be reached in less than 34 years.
Obviously, there will always be setbacks in this process due to death, sin and laziness, but the power of the individual remains impressive. Not only does multiplication produce a large quantity of Christians, it produces quality Christians. These believers are strong, mature and well-versed. They are more fervent in their witnessing, and their deep spiritual maturity allows them to be better mates and parents.
100,000 churches using addition cannot come close to the power of one individual using multiplication. If each church led one person to Christ a week (52 converts per church each year) it would still take over 1154 years to reach the world’s present population of 6 billion. Discipleship is obviously the most powerful tool of evangelism. Evangelistic efforts should not focus all their attention on witnessing, but rather most efforts should be on making disciples of new converts. (Click here to view the chart.)
I am not trying to oversimplify the task of world evangelism or to minimize the spontaneous moving of the Holy Spirit. However, even Jesus, Himself, trained His disciples in the principles of multiplication. Methods are a supplement, not a substitute for the Holy Spirit. If we want to reach the world for Christ, we must use the same principles Jesus used. We must turn our converts into disciples. We must make them "fishers of men."
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