Multiplying Disciples

Logic says that Jesus should have spent the vast majority of his time concentrating on the multitude. After all, he was only going to be on earth for a short time, and the masses had so many needs. Yet of the five hundred and fifty verses in Mark that record Christ’s ministry, two hundred eighty-two show Jesus relating to the public, while two hundred sixty-eight illustrate his working with the twelve. Why would Jesus spend so much time with so few disciples? Even within the group of twelve, he gave more attention to James, Peter, and John. Jesus knew he needed to focus on the few in order to prepare those who would actually lead the multitude. The strategy worked. Acts 2:41-42 says: “Those who accepted his [Peter’s] message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

I think many leaders forget this principle. Unlike Jesus, they concentrate on the multitude and don’t develop disciple-makers. Many pastors spend most of their time preparing their sermon to those hearers who come on Sunday. The problem is that disciples are not primarily formed through hearing a message. Other pastors prioritise counselling those who come through the church doors. Counselling, like preaching, is important. The problem is dependency and ministry extension. In fact, the two are connected. Because the pastor creates a dependency on himself, he is not able to reach more people.

The only way for a leader to go beyond themselves is to follow the pattern of Jesus: concentrate on the disciple-makers who will then work with the multitude.

This was the same principle Jethro communicated to Moses after seeing him serving as judge from morning until evening (Exodus 18:13). Jethro said to Moses, “You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone” (Exodus 18:18). Moses needed to concentrate on the leaders who would then care for leaders until each member in a group of ten would be cared for.

Although the word coaching is not used in Exodus, the principle is the same. It is discipling the disciple-makers. This is what Jesus did also when he concentrated on the twelve who then coached the key leaders of the early church. The essence of coaching is discipling a few who in turn minister to others. Coaching ensures that those who are discipling others are also receiving discipleship.

Adapted from “Making Disciples in the Twenty-First Century Church”

Colin Noyes


Colin is the Director of ResourceZone. He has 35 years of ministry experience as a pastor, college lecturer and consultant/coach to consultants, denominational leaders and local church pastors. He can be reached at colin@resourcezone.com.au



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