Wednesday, 09 March 2011 10:30

Pastor's Perspective: 33 Years

Written by  Vaughn Stafford
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I had a friend challenge me the other day to consider doing “multiplication ministry” rather than “addition ministry.”  I will confess, between you and me, that I want the world to know Jesus and pray everyday that God will give me the opportunity to share His love with someone in a transformational way.  That zeal is wonderful, but I sometimes feel frustrated that I can’t be in more than one place at a time.  There are so many people, so many hurts and so many opportunities that no one person can touch everyone, at least not directly (unless you are Jesus)!


A mentoring friend and I were discussing the impact of some of our heroes in the faith.  Many of them are people who have been doing ministry for more than 40 years.  He shared a challenge with me to consider doing ministry smarter than I’ve been doing it.

His challenge was this:  What if you spent more time equipping and empowering others to do ministry and less time directly doing it or at least doing ministry with a lot fewer people?  At first glance I thought he was crazy.  In my heart I was thinking of all the people I want to share the love of Jesus with so that they can know Him in a saving way, but really began to pray about the concept.

I sat down with my computer and started adding up the impact of some of those amazing giants of the faith who have led thousands to the Lord.  That is when the concept of multiplication of mentoring ministry blew me over.

As a person who actually enjoys math and has sprinted a good bit in life, I found that a person who passionately and faithfully leads one person to Christ a day can win 365 people to Christ in a single year, but a person who invests in one person for an entire year only mentors one faithful disciple.  I know that is not that impressive mathematically, but I thought “that’s a one year loss for the kingdom of 364 souls!”  If that faithful disciple joins me in developing one other faithful disciple over the next year we will have four faithful disciples of Jesus, the two of us plus the “one each” we mentor.  It takes a decade of continuing this doubling of disciples before 1024 souls are reached while the first method of making converts leads to 3650 (net loss for the kingdom in a decade of ministry=2626).  That may make better disciples, but doesn’t match the efficiency of converts found in the first model.

By the eighteenth year, however, the “each one reach one” mentoring model of discipleship multiplies enough times to disciple the entire River Region with 262,144 disciples, by the 22nd year it is enough to build disciples of the entire state of Alabama with nearly 4.2 million disciples, and by the 29th year there would be far more disciples than U.S. citizens of any kind, almost 537 million disciples.  Most significantly, if a person would truly live out the mentoring discipleship model for 33 years through faithful impassioning and empowerment of Jesus’ disciples, they could collectively disciple the entire world population with over 8.5 billion disciples.  In the meantime, if one person led a person to Christ every day of their ministry for 33 years, they would make 12,045 converts.

For all you Bible experts out there, you probably thought 33 years sounded familiar as the number of years in Jesus’ life.  It seems appropriate to remind us that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection was for the whole world (John 1:29, 3:16, 4:42, Rom 5:18, 2 Cor. 5:15, 5:19, 1 Tim 2:6, 1 Jn 2:2).  Given that reality, our ministries would be found most effective if we were modeling that as well.  My prayer is now that God would still lead me to those He would have me come alongside of as a mentor and those who would come alongside me in the same way, but that we, as His followers, would be intentional about the longer journey and not just the sprint.  If we’ll live into the mentoring model of multiplication through the Spirit’s power and guidance we will not need 40 years to see the kingdom of God on earth.  We’ll just need...33 years!

Vaughn Stafford is Pastor of Worship and Design at Saint James United Methodist Church – on the corner of Vaughn and Ryan Road. Saint James has two contemporary services (9:30 & 11:00) and a traditional service at 11:00. He and his wife, Cindy, have two children, Ellie and William. You may contact Vaughn by email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by calling Saint James 334-277-3037.  You can connect with him through facebook and twitter as well.

Last modified on Wednesday, 09 March 2011 10:41
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