By Gene Stockton
One of my favorite types of candy is M&Ms. If I get bag in my hands, regardless of the size, I just keep popping them in my mouth until the bag is completely empty. Just to give you an idea how much my taste buds savor M&Ms, I’ve got an example for you. Recently Cheri and I made a trip to Ohio. During the drive, Cheri graciously bought me a small bag of peanut M&Ms when we stopped for gas somewhere in Illinois. I’ll keep the story short, so I’ll just come out with it. I admit it. I emptied the bag before we left the parking lot of the gas station. Okay, just in case you were wondering, this devotion isn’t about candy M&Ms. But since I have your attention, I want to tell you about a much more important type of M&Ms.
I made up this code word (M&Ms) to describe those Christians who are “ministry multipliers.” M&Ms are vital to any ministry because God uses them as a vessel to multiply themselves and the ministry. First of all, I want to distinguish M&Ms from program technicians. For instance, some people in leadership do reasonably well with the organizational and technical parts of the ministry but lack the desire, understanding, equipping, and/or even maturity to facilitate a multiplying ministry. As well, program technicians orchestrate the ministry center of gravity around themselves. In comparison, M&Ms consistently recruit and develop other leaders so the ministry will continue multiplying in their absence or when they leave. Now, let this sink in deeply. Because it is critical to understand that all Christians are called to be multipliers. In case you’re struggling with this, let’s examine the Great Commission for the command to multiply.
MT 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
In this passage of scripture, the command is “make disciples.” The one giving the command is Jesus who has all authority. So, let’s think this through. If you work with someone until they become a disciple, then naturally they will reproduce what you did in them with others. They will, in turn, obey the commission of Jesus like you did. It doesn’t matter what your spiritual gift is, or your talents. It doesn’t matter what you consider as your primary ministry. It doesn’t even matter what you carry as a position or title. In all cases, as you go, “make disciples.” So where do you go on a daily basis? Wherever that is, be intentional about making disciples with those whom you’re having contact and building relationships.
The saddest thing in ministry is to watch a church limit its implementation of the command “make disciples” to programs that so-called leaders facilitate in a building we call the church. Making disciples may include these programs but it’s not limited to them. Moreover, it’s horrifying to listen and watch church leaders narrow discipleship to something only a teacher does in Sunday School or some other similar type of program. Yes, you guessed it, instead of reproducing M&Ms, these types of leaders and churches develop program technicians who become caretakers of dying programs that lead to the death of the church.
So, what do M&Ms look like? First, they have distinctive attributes clearly defined in Scripture.
1. Disciples are obedient to the commission of Jesus thereby reproducing themselves in others
MT 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations . . .
2. Disciples are Christ-centered, Christ followers who will give their life for Jesus
MT 16:24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
3. Disciples hold to the teachings of Jesus
JN 8:31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,
4. Disciples unconditionally love and care for the needs of other disciples
JN 13:35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
5. Disciples bear fruit as evidence of their relationship with Christ
Jn 15:8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
Second, they have observable characteristics. They are . . .
- Intentional – Disciples continually look for opportunities to make disciples (Matthew 28:19, As your going, make disciples . . .)
- Relational – Disciples desire to make disciples like Jesus and the Apostle Paul did. As a result, our discipleship system engages people in relational environments with love and accountability.
- Reproducible – A true disciple makes disciples. We are commanded by Jesus in Matthew 28:19 to “make disciples.” Our goal is to develop disciples to makes disciples, develop small groups to branch new small groups, and develop leaders in our church who are called to plant new churches.
- Accountable – Without accountability everything will slide into mediocrity. We desire leadership that teaches and admonishes in wisdom (Col. 3:16).
- Evangelical – It is clear in Acts 1:8 that the Holy Spirit empowers us to be witnesses throughout the world.
Note: I recommend reading “real-life discipleship” by Jim Putman. He thoroughly flushes out the first three in this list in his book.
In closing, allow me to get down and personal. Are you a ministry multiplier? Would people say about you, hey s/he is one of those M&Ms? If not, what are you waiting for?