The big voices in disciple making have been pounding the word “multiplication” for the last several years. And that is a good thing. In fact, the only way we will save the world is by multiplication.
Steve Saint says, in his book The Great Omission, that probably the best we can expect is to truly reach five hundred people in our lifetime. But the results are incredible if we equip those five hundred to reach five hundred.
The problem is most of us can’t even imagine making five hundred self-sustaining, self-replicating disciples. And honestly, most of us will never come close. So how do we save the world? How do you make 500 disciples before you die? Do five simple things.
1. Accept that you will never make 500 well-made disciples.
You won’t make five hundred disciples directly. Just be honest with yourself. It’s okay. God never intended for you to make every disciple. God simply asked you to make disciples. The assumption is that if you introduce people to God and lead them to the abundant transforming life you have, they will have the same fire to make disciples you have.
So set yourself free. You don’t have to change the whole world. All you have to do is play your small part in God’s big plan. In fact, I am going to show you how making six disciples a year for twenty years will, in fact, save the world.
2. Track your success to avoid failure.
Tracking your success makes you accountable for your part in the big plan. Here’s the measure of success I have used to make far more disciples than I ever imagined.
My success in disciple making is measured by how many disciples continue to follow God for the right reasons and navigate the unknowns long after my influence fades.
I track this measure every January. I check the immediate results by asking myself, “How many disciples did I make this year?” My personal goal is six directly made disciples a year. Six is manageable. Six is enough.
Then I list every disciple I have made and ask them,
- Do you still feel prepared, confident, and skilled?
- Are you following well?
- How many disciples are you making?
I boil those answers down into a percentage of those I started making who are still going strong and making disciples on their own.
My current success rate is 90%. I know it’s unthinkable. It is more than I could ever have asked Jesus for or imagined! But I don’t track it to celebrate. I track it to make sure that I am actually making well-made disciples. I track my success to make sure I am not breaking things. I track my success because my success is critical to the success of God’s bigger plan.
3. Have a clear goal.
Tracking your success requires a clear goal. My goal is to get people out of discipleship. Why? Because until they don’t need me, they will never be able to do what I do on their own. I only succeed when they live the life of a disciple on their own. Shouldn’t that be the real goal of disciple-making?
Sadly, the church’s goal has long been to keep people in classes and small groups for thirty years. We want them to keep learning. We want them to be involved. But is that what Jesus did? Is that what he wants for you and me?
Jesus’ plan was to raise up disciples and release them into the world. He did it in three years, not thirty. My goal is to get people out of discipleship and into living an abundant, disciple-making life.
4. Have a plan to reach your goal.
You must have a simple, repeatable plan that anyone can execute anywhere. You need a proven, successful “business” plan that can be “franchised” to anyone who wants to open a branch and be guaranteed success.
The plan I use is a three-year plan. It’s the Sustainable Discipleship Method that has proven itself over many years. It is the plan that has given me success beyond my wildest dreams.
It’s stupid simple, and precisely practical. I know what I am doing with each disciple every week. I know exactly how the meeting will go. I know how to pick who will be in my group to make it the most effective. I know exactly what steps to take each year along the way. I never reinvent the wheel. I work the plan. And the plan works.
5. Make six disciples every year until you die.
Believe it or not, six well-made disciples each year is enough. Even if no one else makes disciples, you can change the world by making six disciples each year. You’re smart, so you’ve probably figured out how. The “how” is the power of multiplication.
But let me ask, how many disciples do you think you can make in twenty years if you only make six a year? In other words, how big is the compound effect? If you make six disciples a year for twenty years with a 50% success rate (they make disciples too), the number of disciples you will make is an unbelievable 3,200,000!
Can you believe it? Do you believe it? You need to because it’s God’s plan, it works, and the numbers don’t lie. It seems unimaginable until I remember Paul’s words,
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
And that is the point, after all, right? God is the one who makes disciples. God wants to make disciples. God has a plan, and God is all-powerful. So, make six this year. Get them ready, kick them out of the nest, and let them fly. Become part of the BIG plan and make at least 500 before you die.
Oh, by the way, a 50% success rate is pretty abysmal. If you got your success rate up to 95%, you could make a whopping 6,400,000 disciples before you die. And you’d have 40.8 million in the process, headed towards completion! Let me know if you want to know how to increase your success rate.