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A Refresher Course in Basic Math by Neil Cole

Paul wrote Second Timothy at the end of his life. His primary concern was that the special power and transformation of the Good News be passed on through the generations and not end with his death.

He wrote: "You therefore my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2 Timothy 2:1-2). How many generations are in this verse? Paul...Timothy...faithful men...others also-there are four generations in this verse.

Multiplication Table

Multiplication is a popular topic in missions and church today. Unfortunately, much of what people call multiplying is really just addition. When a small group is added, it is often called multiplying. When another worship service is added on Sunday morning, it is often called church multiplication but it is merely addition. Adding a venue for worship in your church is not multiplying a church, it is merely adding. I am not against addition, but let's not call addition multiplication.

Even if you add an additional church to your denomination, you are still not multiplying, at least not yet. 2+2=4 and 2X2=4 as well. In the early stage of multiplication, addition plays a part. The difference is found in the sum of succeeding generations. If you merely add another 2 the sum is 6, and you are adding by twos. But if you multiply you get to eight, then sixteen, and now you know you are multiplying.

It is true that addition has a role to play in multiplication. In fact, multiplication is when every part adds an equal part to the whole. I guess, in theory, you cannot have multiplication without addition. Addition is not a bad thing; in fact it is far better than subtraction or division (which many of our churches in the West are experiencing).

Addition is good, multiplication is better, way better. Addition produces incremental growth, but multiplication produces exponential growth. The difference is seen in the results of multiple generations. I have counseled people, "Let's not call it multiplication until we get to the forth generation." Until we get to "others also" we have not succeeded in multiplication. It is possible for a strong leader to attract other leaders who, because they are leaders, will have followers. You can have three "generations" of influence without really multiplying. But in order to get to the fourth generation everyone must be giving it all away, and that is when you have multiplication. When we have great grand-daughter disciples, leaders, or churches, then we are multiplying.

The thing about math is it is a world of absolutes; there is one right answer and many wrong answers to every equation. But if processes are mixed up, the solutions are screwed up. In Christendom today we have poor math skills, and our bottom line is wrong in the end because of it.

Search & Rescue


Excerpt from Search & Rescue: Becoming a Disciple Who Makes a Difference (Chapter 5; p. 74-75.)

Read Between a Rock & a Hard Place or What is a Real Hero in the Kingdom of God? in Search & Rescue


See also The DNA of Christ by Neil Cole and Organic Church by Neil Cole

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