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Nothing thrills a pastor more than seeing real transformation happen in the lives of people. We want to see people grow up and become completely mature – completely like Jesus Christ. We long to see people take the lead in their personal world – marriage, family, career and every way that is important to them – to live their best lives for the glory of God. We yearn to see our churches grow in both quality of believer and quantity of believers. None of this happens by accident!

There is a church growth and church health progression recorded in the book of Acts. It describes the exponential growth of the church in direct relation to the growth of the quality of person. In other words, the Acts Progression shows us that the quantity of people we reach are produced by the quality of person we develop.

“Souls were added…” Acts 2:41

“Believers were increasingly added…” Acts 5:14

“The number of the disciples was multiplying…” Acts 6:1

“The number of the disciples multiplied greatly…and a great many of the priests were obedient.” Acts 6:7

As the quality of people progresses from saved lives to faithful lives, and from faithful lives to apprenticed lives and from apprenticed lives to apprenticing the lives of others, the church grows exponentially – people are added and then increasingly added, they are multiplying and then multiplying greatly.

Notice that the progression goes exponential when disciples are making disciples. As leaders we love these growth spurts! But things don’t grow because of faith, prayer and strategy alone. They happen because we intentionally develop the disciples and leaders who themselves make disciples and leaders.

So how do we make disciples who in turn, make disciples? The model we need is based on a principle found in 2 Timothy 2: 2, where the apostle Paul writes to his apprentice Timothy, “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

In a passage from his letter to Timothy, Paul speaks of reproducing leaders into the fourth generation:

1st Generation: Paul
2nd Generation: Instructs Timothy
3rd Generation: To invest in “faithful men”
4th Generation: “Who will be able to teach others also”

This is the New Testament disciple making and leadership development model. It’s the method Jesus used. It’s the model the apostle Paul followed. This model is intentional, relational, generational and therefore, transformational.

In Acts, Luke makes an easily overlooked point about Paul’s interaction with his apprentice Timothy. He writes that “Paul wanted to take him along on the journey” (Acts 16:3). Paul planted churches throughout the Roman Empire through teams and with friends who were disciples who made disciples. They did life and ministry together.

There is a simple leadership development process that applies to any leadership role within the church be it large or small. It can be summed up in 5 basic steps. They are practical ways to take someone “along on the journey” and equip them to be a leader who reproduces leaders.

The 5 steps are:

  1. I do. You watch. We talk.
  2. I do. You help. We talk.
  3. You do. I help. We talk.
  4. You do. I watch. We talk.
  5. You do. Someone else watches. You talk with them.

These steps have been around for a long time. I no longer remember where I first saw them or heard them. I have no doubt “Buechler-ized” them through the years! But if there is anything from this that I’d love for you to memorize and make your own is these 5 steps. Pass them along to all the leaders in your church. You’ll soon see every area of the church experiencing addition, and then, multiplication.

As we develop leaders who develop leaders, our churches will grow in health and size. We can begin these steps at any level of church life – from ground zero as a church or campus plant, or as a church of 50, 150, 500 people and beyond.

Jesus began with 12. By the late 50’s AD, some 25 years later, Acts 21:20 reports that there were “myriads” (tens of thousands) of believers in Jerusalem alone. That’s the Acts Progression at work. That’s the fruit of bringing people “along on the journey with you.”

Have a greatly added and increasingly multiplied year in 2018!

C3 Long Island, Lead Pastor