You know you’re called to be a joyful, missionary disciple and that Jesus has given you the great commission to “go and make disciples of all nations.” (Mt. 28:19) This seems like a huge undertaking, but you are doing this with the whole Church, so the burden does not fall completely on you. But you still want to do your part.
What would be the most efficient and effective way to bring as many people as possible to a relationship with Jesus and his Church? Do what Jesus did: spiritual multiplication.
Jesus preached and performed many signs and wonders, but Jesus also spent a large amount of his time and energy with a small group of individuals, the 12 apostles. And among the apostles, he focused on three: Peter, James and John. After he would preach to the crowds and heal the sick, he would spend time explaining the parables to the apostles. He talked with them, listened to them and answered their questions. In the time they spent together, the apostles experienced how he spoke, acted, treated others, prayed and trusted God.
Jesus was forming them through his words, example and his genuine love and compassion for them. He was preparing them so that one day, when the Holy Spirit rested upon them, they would be ready to be spiritual leaders themselves. This is spiritual multiplication, when the disciples formed other disciples in the same pattern that Jesus established.
Through this method, people were brought into deep relationship with Jesus and his Church. They were formed to be joyful, missionary disciples. If one person forms just two others, and those two each go on to form just two more people, the number of people brought into deep relationship with Jesus and his Church grows exponentially.
The Unleash the Gospel pastoral letter gives us the paradigm of “Encounter, Grow, Witness” to guide us on our journey to becoming joyful, missionary disciples. Here’s how you can use this model to follow Jesus’ method of spiritual multiplication:
Facilitate moments of encounter with Jesus for others. Live a Christian life of joy, goodness and prayer. Ask God to send his Spirit to show you who to focus on. With whom is he asking you to enter into authentic friendship? Set aside time with those people and be genuinely interested in them and their lives. Love and support them. This will lead to opportunities for you to share your own faith in words, to pray with and for them and to invite them to opportunities such as Eucharistic Adoration or Mass where they can continue to encounter Christ.
Once people have a meaningful encounter with Christ, they look for ways to grow in their relationship with God and his Church. Ask them what they need in order to take their next steps in faith. Respond with the resources best suited for their needs. Accompanying people is important in this stage. Authentic friendship allows for the opportunity to continually share your love, understanding and faith. You can be there to answer questions as they wrestle with teachings and how to live as a disciple.
Just as you’ve shown them how you share your faith through word and example, when they’re ready, they will do the same for others. If they express this to you, encourage them to use the same approach of spiritual multiplication to invite others into a life in Christ, reminding them that faith growth is built on authentic friendship and openness to the Holy Spirit.
Helping others become joyful, missionary disciples, and becoming one yourself, isn’t a program or a project. It is a way of life that must be based in authentic friendship with God and each other. It includes both personal growth in faith and witnessing that faith and love of God to others. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you make spiritual multiplication a reality in your life so that you can live out your call to go and make disciples of all nations.
*For more information on this method of disciple-making, check out Curtis Martin’s book Making Missionary Disciples: How to Live the Method Modeled by the Master. FOCUS, 2018.