“These were presented to the apostles, who after prayer laid their hands on them. And the message of God kept on spreading, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and [besides] a large number of the priests were obedient to the faith [in Jesus as the Messiah, through Whom is obtained eternal salvation in the kingdom of God].” Acts 7:6-7(Amplified)
The first thing you learn in biology is the characteristics of living thing, two of which are that all living things grow and reproduce. The implication is that dead things can neither grow nor reproduce. 1 Pet 2:5 defines the body of Christ as living stones that God is building to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable unto Him; hence the Church is a living thing and like all living organisms, is expected to both grow and reproduce. If she isn’t growing or reproducing, then she is dead. The two characteristics mentioned above – growth and reproduction, are however expressed in two ways – qualitative and quantitative. Therefore, the Church is in real terms expected to grow qualitatively as well as quantitatively and should also have no problem reproducing qualitatively and quantitatively. This in essence translates into growth and reproduction without compromising the core values of the Church’s existence and accomplishments.
The question is how do we obtain this end? It is by being word-focused or Christ-centred as well as being strategic in our outreach to the world. If the first is easily understood and widely accepted, the latter might be a little hazy to both understand and implement. We need the word to grow spiritually as we become more like our Saviour and Master and develop characteristics that enable us to walk the path of effective discipleship. The word provides light to enable us navigate the darkness that is the world. Qualitative growth simply means growth in the inner man, the spiritual growth within that ultimately impacts on our abilities to achieve quantitative growth, which is the outward expression through relationships of changes that have taken place in our hearts. This leads first to qualitative reproduction as our transformed lives start to impart people around us and finally culminates in quantitative reproduction, meaning that our circle of influence widens to include more people who are positively impacted for the kingdom good. The good news is that we can experience these both as individuals and as local Churches. So how do we build capacity and thus multiply our abilities to cover more grounds for God? The answer and its consequence are in our anchor passage – we need to purposely raise up leaders. The key to multiplying our effectiveness in the world is to build up people and impart into them the means by which they are able to do that which God has called them to do. If we are not actively developing leaders by design, then all we are doing is nurturing followers by default. Followers add while leaders multiply themselves. Therefore, to experience explosive growth and make maximum impact, the like of which the early Church experienced, we must necessarily invest in raising up leaders and thus expand God’s kingdom.
Father, you said that the harvest is ripe, but the labourers are few. We pray that you act in your designation as the Lord of the harvest to send us into the field in power so that we can indeed bring the lost to your feet. Lord, enable your Church to build up her capacity to fulfil her mission in the world to the glory of your name and build me up as an individual so that I can indeed become an integral part of your move in this generation. Amen.