By Paul Wilkinson
The question is simple, yet profound: Are we leading in a way that those in our group can readily imitate? If we are not, then we are stifling the multiplication of our work and we are falling short of the blessings the Lord intends for us.
As we look at what Jesus did with the disciples following the call of Matthew 4:19, we see the reproducible pattern of Jesus: preach, teach, heal. Preach the truth of the kingdom of God; teach the truths of God’s character and will; heal the sick, etc. Paul writes to Timothy, “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2)
For many years I did not operate with the idea of leading through achievable, mimicable patterns. I taught doctrine and apologetics for at least three years to hundreds of Brentwood Baptist members and contacts. For me, the content was king, and if I gave sufficient content coupled with challenging application, then a movement of faith would necessarily ensue.
Far from it, the teaching stopped when I stopped. I never reproduced myself. In my zeal to share the depth of my philosophical learning and my excitement to tie these great truths to the work of sharing our faith, I set the bar so high that no one was willing to follow. Moreover, I never asked anyone to follow! If you didn’t have 4-5 years to devote to philosophical study, you wouldn’t be able to do what I was doing.
So, was I discpling well? Was I leading well? I would say no, because those groups and classes don’t exist anymore because I have moved to other things. It is exciting to do inductive studies on our own to plumb the great truths of the Scriptures, but if we are not apprenticing one or two people, then all of our learning dies with us. It is fun to develop our own lessons around interesting topics like apologetics and ethics, but if we are not apprenticing one or two people, then all of our learning dies with us.
We only have two options if we want to be faithful to Jesus’ reproducible model: take apprentices to learn to do what you do or get on a base curriculum that people can handle in your absence. But it’s not just teachers: prayer list leaders, follow-up leaders, outreach/mission leaders, and fellowship leaders all need to be reproducing themselves by inviting someone else along to learn to do what you do.
Pray, pray, pray . . . and pray some more for the Lord to bring you apprentices and for you to be faithful to them. I begged the Lord for the bulk of last year to send me a handful of young men that I could lead; the cabinet was bare. When the Lord convicted me over Christmas break that I didn’t have a reproducible model for them and I submitted to that conviction, I have found myself knee deep in young men hungry for the Word and hungry to learn to lead people toward Christlikeness in the first two months of this year. I pray the same for you.
 If you haven’t thus far been able to heal people, as is the case with me, then minister to them through presence, nurture, and the rest. Note that Job’s friends are indicted not for their lack of healing their friend, rather they were indicted for speaking falsely about the Lord.