Making Disciples of All Nations Through Spiritual Multiplication

By the grace of God the whole world should be Catholic in 33 years if we hold true to one key principle in our evangelization: spiritual multiplication. But we are tempted not to do so.

Spiritual Multiplication

Spiritual multiplication refers to a way of evangelizing in which we not only teach others the faith, but we teach them how to teach it to others. In his Letter to Timothy, Paul exhorts Timothy to practice spiritual multiplication. He writes, “What you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). In other words: teach teachers to teach.

Jesus evangelized to large crowds, to be sure, but the plan He gave for reaching the whole world was to do so through his disciples (see Mt. 28:19-20). He chose 12, and He invested profoundly in them, especially in three of them: Peter, James, and John. He then sent them out to “make disciples of all nations” (Mt. 28:19).

This simple principle of equipping others to share the faith, rather than merely instilling the faith in them, makes a huge difference in our ability to reach the world for Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. Consider the following thought-experiment:

Imagine God gives someone the grace to make one million disciples to Christ each year. We will call that person the Super Evangelist. And imagine He gives you the grace to make just two disciples to Christ, but to do so in such a way that you simultaneously teach them how to each make two more disciples, and so forth on down the line. Let’s see how the methods of each evangelist stack up over the years.

  • After 1 year: The Super Evangelist has made 1,000,000 disciples, and you have made just 2.
  • After 2 years: The Super Evangelist has made 2,000,000 total disciples. Meanwhile, your chain has made 6 total disciples: the original 2 that you made and the 2 that each of those 2 made.
  • After ten years: The Super Evangelist has made 10,000,000 disciples, and your chain has only made 2,046. Not looking so good for you, but just wait!
  • In the 20th year: The Super Evangelist has made 20,000,000 disciples, whereas you have only made just over 2,000,000. But the 20th year marks a turning point for you. While the Super Evangelist is still adding 1,000,000 disciples each year, in the 20th year alone your chain added 1,048,576 new disciples.
  • In the 24th year: You surpass the Super Evangelist. He has won a total of 24,000,000 disciples to Christ, but you have won a total of over 33,000,000.
  • By the end of the 33rd year: The Super Evangelist will have won 33,000,000 disciples for Christ. But in that year your chain will reach every man, woman, and child on the face of the earth for Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church!

Let’s recap this tremendous achievement. In just 33 years—the length of the life of Jesus—we can reach the entire world for Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. To do that we must lead at least two others to the Lord and His Church in such a way that they turn around and do the same with at least two others, and so forth. This process is called spiritual multiplication.

If spiritual multiplication is so effective, and if it is the blueprint Jesus left for how to make disciples of all nations, then why do you think we so often don’t practice it?

Dr. Brian McAdam
Dr. Brian McAdam
Brian McAdam is the Senior Director of Formation at FOCUS. He holds a doctorate in philosophy from The Catholic University of America and a Certificate in Management Essentials from Harvard Business School. From 2002–2004, Brian served as an on-campus missionary with FOCUS. He and his wife, Sarah, are blessed with a daughter and twin boys.

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