4 Keys to Multiplying Disciples to the Fourth Generation
One question we are often asked is, “How do you prevent breakdowns in the disciple-making process?” The following is a summary in outline form of the four keys that we have found. This outline is taken from The Keystone Project Training Manual by Richard Greene
Key #1 Select Your First Generation Carefully
Select your first generation carefully and help them make their first disciples as quickly as possible. Your first generation disciple:
- Must be available (Luke 12:22-48)
- Must be faithful (2 Timothy 2:2)
- Must be able to teach others (2 Timothy 2:2)
When you think you have found your first generation disciple:
- Set a high standard.
- Test them.
- Communicate the vision.
- Make the call specific and require a commitment.
Key #2 Teach your Disciples to Become Spiritual Fathers.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me” (1 Corinthians 4:14-16).
Characteristics of a spiritual father:
- Fathers reproduce themselves.
- Fathers give their names to their children.
- Fathers provide for basic needs.
- Fathers protect their families.
- Fathers give correction.
- Fathers give a mature example for children to follow.
- Fathers establish moral standards.
- Fathers challenge their children to grow to maturity.
- Fathers leave an inheritance!
Key #3 Encourage your Disciples to Become Spiritual Grandfathers.
Characteristics of spiritual grandfathers:
- Spiritual grandfathers give a link to the past.
- Spiritual grandfathers give credibility to spiritual fathers.
- Spiritual grandfathers hold spiritual fathers accountable.
- Spiritual grandfathers offer experience and wisdom.
- Spiritual grandfathers give spiritual grandchildren encouragement, safety, and celebration.
- Spiritual grandfathers insure the integrity of the inheritance.
- “Whoever teaches his son teaches not only his son but also his son’s son.” (The Talmud)
Key #4 Intentionally Reproduce to the 4th Generation
Continue to work closely with your disciple until the 4th generation. The fourth generation is when your disciple’s disciple is making a disciple!
- Your Disciple (First generation)
- Your Disciple’s Disciple (Second Generation)
- Your Disciple’s Disciple’s Disciple (Third Generation)
- Your Disciple’s Disciple’s Disciple’s Disciple (Fourth Generation)
What is so special about the fourth generation?
God is always working beyond our time, our circumstances, and our place.
“Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed? For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord…so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him” (Genesis 18:17-19).
God chose Abraham for the express purpose of working in him through many generations. God knew Abraham would be faithful to begin that process by commanding his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord.
Biblical examples of multi-generational ministry
“Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them…so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 6:1-9).
- Moses = First Generation
- Children of Israel = Second Generation
- Their Sons = Third Generation
- Their Grandsons = Fourth Generation
In Acts 1:8 the Lord Jesus commanded His disciples to be a witness in the four strategic areas of “Jerusalem… Judea… Samaria… and the remotest part of the earth.”
- Jerusalem = First Generation
- Judea = Second Generation
- Samaria = Third Generation
- Earth = Fourth Generation
In the ministry of the early church we also see a multi-generational ministry at work.
- Jesus = First Generation
- The 12 Apostles = Second Generation
- The 120 = Third Generation
- The 3,000 = Fourth Generation
Paul shows this mind-set in 1 Thessalonians 1:6-8, where he writes, “You also became imitators of us and of the Lord…so that you became an example in Macedonia and Achaia…not only in Macedonia and Achaia , but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth…”
- Paul (and the Lord) = First Generation
- Thessalonians = Second Generation
- Macedonia and Achaia = Third Generation
- Every Place = Fourth Generation
2 Timothy 2:2, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
- Paul was the first generation.
- Timothy was the second generation.
- “Faithful men” were the third generation.
- “Others” were the fourth generation.
Multi-Generational ministry requires a multi-generational mind-set
- We must learn to think beyond ourselves.
- We must think and plan beyond the first generation.
- We must hold the first generation accountable to think beyond themselves.
- We must continue to work closely with our disciples until at least the fourth generation.
- We must lay a solid first generation foundation.
- The first generation is the foundation for future generations. The whole ministry will rest on their shoulders.
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The Keystone Project is a global missions network of churches and leaders committed to the fulfillment of the Great Commission in this generation.