I saw this graphic posted on a wall in a rural Ecuadorian elementary school. It struck me because of the extent of its claim. The inability to multiply would negatively impact all of life.
I suppose the opposite would hold true as well. The ability to multiply would positively impact all of life. The church is hung up on multiplication. Especially when it comes to Making Disciples. Why? Because multiplication is easy. The church can wrap it’s head around mathematics. In spite of the church’s ability to grasp math, mathēteusate remains elusive. We’re good at making math, but not so good at making Mathetes (Disciples)
What are mathēteusate & mathetes?
Mathēteusate (μαθητεύσατε) is the greek verb Jesus used in the Great Commission for “Make Disciples.” Mathetes (μαθητησ) is the greek word for “disciple.”
How many times have you seen mathematical presentations where if a limited set of of people were to “make disciples who make disciples” and so on, the entire earth’s population would be reached in a very short time? (one disciple makes two, who make four, who make sixteen, and so on) These sorts of presentations have been going on for a very long time. For Christendom, the results contradict the equations. Regarding this idea, Bill Hull had this to say:
The principle behind discipleship does involve one person influencing another, which does result in a change in heart and mind. The success of discipleship doesn’t depend on soldiering forward in a mechanical strategy of reproduction and multiplication. And discipleship doesn’t involve developing a well-trained, elite sales force. Rather discipleship occurs when a transformed person radiates Christ to those around her. It happens when people so deeply experience God’s love that they can do nothing other than affect those around them. The heart of being a disciple involves living in intimate union and daily contact with Christ. Discipleship – the effort both to be a disciple and to make other disciples-is about the immense value of God at work in one individual’s life and the resulting impact on other lives.*
Making Math is easy, making Mathetes is not. I have been, at times, caught up in the math. It makes sense. But I also know that the actual making of disciples makes a mess of the math. Just one question for today:
Are you making Math or Mathetes?
*Bill Hull. The Complete Book of Discipleship: On Being and Making Followers of Christ (Kindle Locations 216-220). Kindle Edition.