“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,” Jesus commanded as he ascended into heaven (Matt. 28:19a). This is the mission of the church and the sacred duty of everyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
So… how do we do it?
“Why is it that we see so little disciple making taking place in the church today?” ask Francis Chan and Mark Beuving in their new book, Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples. “Do we really believe that Jesus told His early followers to make disciples but wants the twenty-first-century church to do something different?”
None of us would claim to believe this, but somehow we have created a church culture where the paid ministers do the “ministry,” and the rest of us show up, put some money in the plate, and leave feeling inspired or “fed.” We have moved so far away from Jesus’s command that many Christians don’t have a frame of reference for what disciple making looks like. (Kindle location 299)
In Multiply, Chan and Beuving offer the frame of reference they see is missing. Divided into five parts, Multiply looks at the call to disciple-making individually and corporately, the storyline of Scripture and provides practical guidance on how to study the Bible.
Parts one and two serve principally to motivate readers to do the work of making disciples. Chan—whose reputation for challenging the lethargy of the North American church is well-known—pulls no punches in reminding readers that disciple-making truly is the responsibility of every believer. “The pastor is not the minister—at least not in the way we typically think of a minister. The pastor is the equipper, and every member of the church is a minister.” (Kindle location 354)
God has not called you to make disciples in isolation; He has placed you in the context of a church body so that you can be encouraged and challenged by the people around you. And you are called to encourage and challenge them in return. (Kindle location 382)
This is difficult for many of us to accept, but it needs to be properly understood. If we are Christians, we have a responsibility to the other believers in our local church. “Church” isn’t the hour and a half we spend on Sunday—it’s something that requires opening up our lives to others and encouraging them to obey Jesus as we are learning to likewise.
The interconnectedness of disciple-making is what makes it so difficult in a context where, frankly, you can get away with hiding pretty easily. But the truth of the matter is clear: “It’s impossible to ‘one another’ yourself. It’s impossible to follow Jesus alone. We can’t claim to follow Jesus if we neglect the church He created, the church He died for, the church He entrusted His mission to.” (Kindle location 519)
Parts three through five offer a thorough overview of the Bible’s storyline, as well as solid guidance on how to study the Scriptures. This, honestly, is probably the most immediately practical aspect of what’s offered in Multiply. It’s also one of the most fundamental aspects. “For a Christian, nothing should seem more natural than reading the Bible,” the authors write (Kindle location 946). And yet, so many struggle to do it. We either are distracted, believe the lie that it’s hard to understand, or are just so wracked with guilt that we can’t bring ourselves to do it.
Whatever the case, we have to understand that studying the Bible isn’t optional—if we are to make disciples who love and obey Jesus, then they (and we) need to actually know about what God is like, what He’s done in history, and what He’s promised to do in the future. “God in heaven wants us to know certain things about Himself, and He uses the Scriptures to reveal these things” (Kindle location 1008).
For me, reading through the authors’ 15-chapter overview of the storyline of Bible was a pure joy. If you’ve ever read through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, you know how helpful it is to have your reading of the Scriptures grounded in the big story. By providing these chapters, the authors have done readers a great service—in part because of their own obvious excitement about it!
You can tell that Chan and Beuving really love the Bible—and they want you to love it to. They want you to feel the sense of urgency about knowing the Scriptures, and knowing the God who is revealed in the Bible’s pages. In fact, they made me want to start reading the Bible at Genesis 1 again!
Multiply isn’t really a book for solo reading—although I benefitted from an individual read, it was when I was discussing the material with others that I found it most helpful (as my wife can attest from me talking her ear off). It really is intended as a discipleship tool and it is a good one, to be sure. I’d highly recommend getting a copy of Multiply, working through it with a friend and beginning to invest in others using the material Chan and Beuving have provided.
Title: Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples
Author: Francis Chan with Mark Beuving
Publisher: David C. Cook (2012)