Compound Interest…

***I promise this post is not about finances & investments!***

“If you would just set aside $100.00 each month starting NOW then you would be a millionaire by age 65!”

My mother has told me this several times since I was about 18. Many of you have probably heard something similar to this scenario as well. It is very true, though I do not personally know anyone in real life who has ever done it. Apparently, some sort of a mathematical phenomenon takes place when you make a small investment each month into various types of mutual funds/investments, which accrue a compounding interest. Basically, you earn interest on the principle amount that you invest each month, but you also begin to earn a return on the interest as well. Somewhere down the line you see an explosion, but it takes time. You can’t argue with basic math. The small investment each month WILL multiply into a LARGE sum of money in the window of about 40 years.

What I am submitting now is that there is exponential value in this particular pursuit of discipleship; what I believe to be the “way Jesus did things”. Again, we just don’t like it because it might take longer; heck, we may never even get to see the fruit from it. We will not get glory for it, or should I say we will no longer be able to rob God of the glory HE deserves. However, we can be assured that if we take the challenge to pour into just a few people at a deep level we are doing exactly what Christ called us to do, and there will be an explosion somewhere down the line. We can be assured that the disciples we are making WILL make more disciples (Otherwise we can’t say we’ve effectively discipled them in the first place).

Here’s a quick video illustrating what this might “look like” if we did it. Many of you have already seen this video, but it’s worth a re-watch.

It seems so easy doesn’t it. So why don’t we do it? I assume it is the same reason that I have never met anyone who has actually become a millionaire by investing $100 a month into a mutual fund. However, if we dared to take the challenge might we wake up in forty years to see that the Holy Spirit has swept through our land to raise up a holy army of kingdom warriors? And this, all because we found value  pouring our everything into a few people for a few years against all outside pressure from the world around us. At every turn the “world around us” screams that we are wasting our time on small/insignificant things when we could be “allowing the Lord to do great things through us”. May we not be seduced by that lie any longer. Jesus save us from ourselves, and replace what we value with what YOU value.

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Where’s The Value?

This will NOT happen if we’re worried about how we will answer when asked the question, “how many churches have you started, or how big is your church?”

I am convinced that we do not value the things that Christ valued. He intentionally poured into a small number of guys who went on to change the world. Yes, there are times when He interacted with, and encountered large groups of people. However, the majority of His time was spent with these 12 guys. He took them with Him everywhere He went, constantly asked them questions, helped them reach conclusions, and prepared them to carry out a great task. Are we trying to do the task ourselves, as if it’s up to us to do? Or, are we preparing others to carry out a task that’s too great for us alone; ushering in the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven?

We say we value discipleship (As noted above-Jesus’ “model”), but our actions prove otherwise-across the board. We are trapped in a way of doing things in the west, and the expectations of man keep pulling us back into that trap. Man simply does not value individual people enough to actually disciple those individual’s. We want to do the things that “make it big”, or “bare MUCH fruit” in man’s eyes. We also tend to mysteriously do the things that can be traced back to being a result of what WE did; those things usually “make the papers”, ironically.

Pouring ourselves into the lives of a few people for a year’s time does NOT make the papers…but it’s what Jesus did.

So, what do we do? I am a big fan of seeking solutions to problems, and not just complaining about them. I am also a fan of DOING, and not merely talking. A lot of people are talking about a lot of this stuff, but few are practicing. I have made a commitment to the Lord this year. Against all outside pressure, and expectations to grow a kingdom of my own while calling it the growth of God’s kingdom I have decided to spend more time with less people. This is tough for many “Type A Leaders” with “strong personalities”. After all, hasn’t the Lord called us to be vessels through which He changes the world!? Doesn’t that mean we start, and grow HUGE churches!? (Or, start LOTS of churches…right?)

The problem is that we have lost the art of the heart of Jesus’ ministry; discipleship. This is the bottom line. We call ourselves “disciples” of Christ. I find it interesting that Jesus spent the majority of His time pouring into twelve ragamuffins, which eventually turned into eleven. The point is that Jesus was constantly bent towards individuals, or small groups of people.

I realize that in Acts the Holy Spirit fell on the people, and 3,000 came to know Jesus in one day! I simply feel that we have accidentally allowed the pendulum to swing too far towards “reaching the multitudes”, and in the midst of our efforts lost the art of relational discipleship. Which, in the “big picture”, would lead to reaching the multitudes. Once again, some of the most powerful stories we know from scripture involve Jesus showing favor to, and spending time with INDIVIDUALS. He then expected these individuals to RESPOND in such a way that illustrated their encounter with the Gospel.

Picture it; Jesus is walking through a large crowd of people, and ONE woman touched the edge of His cloak. He stopped and paid her the attention that only the God of the universe could. Later in Matthew Jesus is, once again, walking in a crowd. Again, He parts ways with a LARGE amount of people to call ONE man down from a tree. He then goes to have dinner with that man. As a result, the life of Zaccheous was transformed. Jesus meets the woman at the well. He extends grace to the woman caught in the act of adultery. Over and over again in the Bible Jesus shows His concern for individual people. He spends time with them. He blesses them. He pours into them. The result was people who were TRULY transformed by the grace of Jesus, and not just hit with a pellet of the Gospel spread thin as if exploding from the barrel of a shotgun.

Jesus poured into the twelve. He lost one, and was left with eleven. Those eleven would go on to change the world. What does that look like for us as Christ followers today? Many of us write off individuals as unimportant, or view the thought of any large amount of energy spent pouring into one person as ineffective/not a good use of time. I am beginning to believe just the opposite. I feel the Lord challenging myself, and Christ-followers in the West to spend more time with less people. I have begun this pursuit, and have discovered a new way of living. A way that only the Lord can receive recognition and Glory for the results. George Barna calls this the practices of a “revolutionary”. Will you join me in this new Revolution of what it truly means to follow Christ, and live out the Gospel of Jesus that we claim to cling to?

It’s time we stop being slaves to what man sees as valuable. It’s time we start valuing what Christ values. May we stop performing to make a name for ourselves, and our ministry/church/organization? May we start doing the things that go unnoticed, and fly below the radar trusting that our Father in heaven sees our good works? May we trust that if we TRULY make a disciple who we KNOW will make another that somewhere down the line we will begin to see exponential growth?

This will NOT happen if we’re worried about how we will answer when asked the question, “how many churches have you started, or how big is your church?”