How we’ve seen God raise up multigenerational disciples in our church

Over my first two decades of ministry, serving with students and as a lead pastor in New Mexico, my wife, Krista, and I experienced a consistent theme: we saw fruitful growth in the first generation of disciples in which we were investing as they studied the Word, memorized Scripture, engaged in personal evangelism, and connected through life-on-life communities that practiced vulnerable accountability. But we rarely saw those relationships create second-, third-, or fourth-generation disciples. 

Don’t get me wrong—we saw several victories for the Lord and isolated examples of multigenerational reproduction, but nothing like the multiplication testimonies we were hearing from pastors like David Platt, Robby Gallaty, and others. Honestly, I was discouraged with the feeling of always seeming to trip over a hurdle I was never quite able to clear.

This is when we went to the white board. At a pastor’s retreat, we asked our whole team to write down the disciple-making tools they were using. We then prayed, agonized, and wrestled over letting go of some of our favorite tools in order to isolate only those we felt would be most effective at making multigenerational disciples.

From that process, we developed the following four principles that helped us leap over our non-multiplying hurdles. These principles became the catalyst for the discipleship strategy we adopted upon our return to serve in Texas.

At a pastor’s retreat, we asked our whole team to write down the disciple-making tools they were using. We then prayed, agonized, and wrestled over letting go of some of our favorite tools

Create consistent language and tools

Curriculums come and go, but just like a master carpenter has specific tools he gives his apprentice, so too must disciple-makers equip others with lasting skills that remain consistent in future generations. At the front of every journal or workbook, we train disciple-makers to be proficient in the same four categories: tools for the discipleship meeting, gospel-conversation tools, Bible study/prayer tools, and spiritual growth tools.

Set the expectation to multiply from the beginning

Reproduction is greatly increased when the beginning of the relationship is started by saying, “This investment is not just for you, but also for the person you will disciple behind you, and the next soul, and the next soul.” We look for four traits in those we train through our disciple-making process: they must be faithful, available, teachable, and reproducible (2 Timothy 2:2). Clearly setting this expectation at the outset makes it easier when you launch them out to multiply.

Intentionally give away leadership sooner than you want

Structure meeting times in a way you can easily give portions of the meeting to those being trained. Most of us learn by doing, so we use the acronym MAWL (model, assist, watch, launch) to reinforce the idea that they will be leading others soon.

Be disciplined to check in on downline disciple-makers

As multiple generations are reproduced, we’re reminded of the importance of checking in on the growth of those we’ve launched. We have a pastor on our team devoted to mapping individuals using Coggle—a web-based tool that facilitates collaborative work—so we can pray, track, and check in. 

I told our new church in Texas it could take up to three years to produce two dozen men and women equipped and participating in multiplying discipleship. By a miracle of God, we have six dozen already engaged and more than one example of discipleship to the fourth generation.

You may have different tools—and praise God if they are working in your context. Whatever you choose, always remember the priority Jesus gave us to make disciples who make disciples. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Let’s get to work for His glory!

Lead Pastor
Aaron T. Colyer
First Baptist Church in Wimberley
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