by Rev. Dr. Otis T. McMillan
John 12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (KJV)
I have heard that scientific and statistical probabilities demonstrate that if a single shaft of wheat is left undamaged and allowed to freely reproduce and grow, it will multiply into a crop large enough to feed the entire world population, for an entire year–within only eight years! It only takes a single apple seed to grow a tree. Yet a single apple tree produces enough seed to plant an entire orchard. Multiplication must start small and seemingly insignificantly, but with time and generational reproduction, it will reach global levels of influence.How long will it take to reach the world through multiplication? If every Christian were to lead just one person to Christ every year and disciple that person so that he would, in turn, do the same the next year, it would only take about thirty-five years to reach the entire world for Christ!
Consider several things that may hinder reproduction and multiplication, here are a few I find to be important to me. (1) Laziness – Most people/churches are not “stuck” or in decline because they do not know or understand what the Lord wants them to do…God speaks very clearly in His Word and through His Spirit. It’s just that God’s work always requires people to take a step of faith! Remember, God promised the Israelites the “Promised Land,” but they actually had to go in and fight the battles. A church that refuses to do whatever it takes and embraces laziness will eventually settle in the desert until that generation dies off.(2) Fear of Man – God has called His people to set the world on fire; unfortunately, too many church leaders today waste their time trying to put fires out and make people happy! Scripture pretty much sums it up in Proverbs 29:25, “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.” If your first question is always, “What does our biggest giver want” and not “What does God want,” your church maybe stepping into the casket!(3) Pride – When a church and/or its leaders are not willing to admit a mistake or that a method that used to work just doesn’t work anymore…it’s over. Are there any methods you need to change that simply are not working anymore?(4) Staff neglect – When a leader cares more about what his staff does than who they are becoming, then he will begin to push them to work harder on a consistent basis…and when they begin to show signs of being pushed too hard, he will accuse them of being “disloyal” or “not bought in enough to make things happen.” When a leader begins to do this (and other “leaders” sit by passively and watch it happen), then the quality of staff members, the church moral will begin to decline. The Board of Bishops in the 2012 Quadrennial Address encouraged each pastor and church congregation to take discipleship and disciple making seriously.
(5) Loss of Focus – When a pastor/leader (or group of leaders) become more obsessed with their “ministry platform” and begin to dive into other “ministry opportunities” and do so with such frequency that they cease to love the people that Jesus has called them to minister to, disaster is right around the corner because the church will become nothing more than a resource for the pastor to promote himself rather than a group of people whom God has brought together and given him responsibility over to love and lead.
If we are willing to fulfill our calling, regardless of the size or location of our particular church, God will help us do our part. Remember, if every Christian were to lead just one person to Christ every year and disciple that person so that he would, in turn, do the same the next year, it would only take about thirty-five years to reach the entire world for Christ!