Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #262 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading 2 Timothy 2 today and our focus is on How Does the Church Grow? How Does the Good New Spread? The Ultimate Church Growth Strategy. We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Okay, okay – I’d better own it and confess: putting “the ultimate church growth strategy” in the title of this episode is a little over the top. It’s not untrue, mind you, but it is a little on the click-baity side, and I am almost sorry for it. Probably not sorry enough, however, because I am hopeful that somebody in the future will search for that phrase and find this episode and discover what is the real and ultimate biblical strategy for church growth. It is simple and effective and powerful, and it is how the church spread across the known world with lightning speed in the first few centuries A.D., but it would be difficult to package this strategy into a book now and sell it in a Christian book store because people are looking for something else to grow the church. Which is honestly sad, because Paul is going to tell Timothy the REAL secret to church growth, and here it is:
2 What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2nd Timothy 2:2
Yes – that’s it. You probably aren’t as impressed or as blown away by this command as you should be, but please let me reiterate: this is the strategy that took the message of Jesus – a Jewish man in a tiny country – all across the known world. By literally every metric there is, Jesus is the most famous person to have ever lived – even an ardent atheist will admit that, and even a Youtube wackadoodle who doesn’t believe Jesus ever existed will admit that, because it is scientifically provable. HOW did a person from a tiny and insignificant country in the first century become the most famous person ever despite us not having a single picture of Him or work of art or literature produced by Him? How did Jesus become the most famous person ever despite His followers being relatively poor and powerless, and His movement persecuted and opposed by the largest Empire in the world at the time? Well, certainly part of that answer must include the power of the Holy Spirit empowering messengers who took the message of Jesus around the world, but the strategy or method those messengers used was none other than the simple one Paul tells us today. Take the Word of God – what Paul taught – and commit that to faithful people who are able to teach others also. It’s just that simple. It was that simple in the first century and it still is today.
This method, or strategy, is what the church has called discipleship for centuries. Paul did not invent this strategy, but learned it from the method of the Master Himself, Jesus- who invested Himself and His teachings into the lives of a few faithful followers who would go on to do the same with others. David Mathis helps us to see this dynamic of discipleship more clearly:
Does “disciple all nations” not call to mind how Jesus himself discipled his men? They were, after all, his disciples. And when they heard him say, “disciple all nations,” would they not think this discipling is similar to the very thing he did with them—investing prolonged, real-life, day-in, day-out, intentional time with younger believers in order to personally grow them to maturity, as well as model for them how to disciple others in the same way?
This sounds like what Paul is getting at in 2 Timothy 2:2, when he instructs his disciple Timothy, “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Timothy, my disciple, disciple others to disciple others. Four spiritual generations get explicit mention here: Paul, Timothy, “faithful men,” and “others also”—with the implication that further generations are to follow.3
Discipling, seen in this light, means not merely the pursuit of our own spiritual maturity but getting outside ourselves for personal connection and substantial, intentional investment of time in a few others—the kind of investment for which there must be going to accomplish among the nations. Jesus spent over three years with his twelve disciples. He called them to be discipled at the outset of his ministry (Matt. 4:19), and he gave them the lion’s share of his life until his departure in Matthew 28. He invested his life in his men. It is eye-opening to track in the Gospels how much Jesus gave of himself to his disciples. While the crowds pursued him, he pursued his disciples. He was willing to bless the masses, but he invested in the few.
David Mathis, “Introduction: Remember, Jesus Never Lies,” in Finish the Mission: Bringing the Gospel to the Unreached and Unengaged, ed. John Piper (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 17–18.
Bible Memory verses for the month of September: 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2nd Timothy 3:16-17
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