It’s been years since I was taught to memorize my multiplication tables. But I’m still enamored by the power of multiplication.
You’ve heard about the dad who offered his two sons a choice. He said, “I’ll either give you one dollar a week for 52 weeks, OR one cent the first week, and then the amount doubled the next week to just 2 cents and continuing for 52 weeks.” Which would you prefer?
So one son took the dollar. The other took the penny. Who came out ahead? Well, the son who took the dollar had 52 dollars at the end of the year. But the other son who took the penny had $22,517,998,136,852.49 (that’s trillions)! Multiplication starts slower than addition. But its growth is exponential.
Recently, someone asked me: “why on earth did you ever leave the pastorate to become a seminary president?” My answer was quick and straightforward: multiplication, exponential multiplication.
It’s like this, I said, when a seminary teacher looks into the eyes of a student, they are looking at hundreds and sometimes thousands of people that each pastor will impact. The level of influence is staggering. You train thousands; you reach millions.
That’s one reason why I left pastoring for a while. Something happened to me when I turned 50. I became even more interested in multiplication, and in training leaders. Maybe it’s the fact that after turning 50 you realize that you are not going to live forever. So you think, “how do I maximize the time I have left? How can I have the most influence for Christ?”
I like to put it this way. How can I have MKI—maximum kingdom impact? That’s the question I asked myself when I came to Reformed Theological Seminary. I became convinced that, at this point in my life, I could have MKI by training the next generation of pastors, counselors, teachers and leaders for the church.
Most of the leaders we train will have a multiplying impact on the local church. Through discipling, church planting or church revitalization their ministries will touch millions.
Of course, I am not the first to think about this. And seminary is not the only arena where this is done. I was reading the life of 18th-century evangelist, George Whitfield. He was one of the leaders of the America’s First Great Awakening, which became the impetus for the birth of many of our universities. Whitefield wrote in his journals these words: “That the University was the fountainhead; that every gownsman’s name was ‘Legion’ and that if I should be instrumental in converting one of them, it would be as much as converting a whole parish.” Whitfield was impressed with the power of spiritual multiplication.
Jesus was as well. Jesus invited the many, but he invested in the few–especially in 12 disciples. He chose them to be with him and poured his life into them (Mark 3.14). These disciples proclaimed the gospel and then poured their lives into others until they reached their known world (Col. 1.6, 23). By the year 312, that is almost 300 years later, the Emperor of Rome himself converted to Christianity. In other words, the impact of these 12 apostles was revolutionary through spiritual multiplication.
Think of Paul, who wrote to Timothy, “the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Tim 2.2). The teacher connects with his students and through them to his student’s students and then to their students. This is spiritual multiplication with a four generation effect. Paul kept this long range view of discipleship in mind. Shouldn’t we?
If you are a lover of mathematics or investing, then you know the magical power of multiplication. But if you are a careful student of the Bible, then you should be impressed by its power as well.
That’s one of the blessings of having a writing and radio ministry as well. You plant a seed by writing a book or recording a radio segment, you send it out, and even though you’ve moved on to other projects, that book’s or broadcast’s influence has a multiplying effect.
What happens then when you train leaders who train leaders? All of a sudden, you have exponential influence for the sake of the gospel.
Since its founding, Reformed Theological Seminary has trained over 12,000 students who are serving in 80 countries. But these are not mere graduates. (That’s addition.) Many of these graduates will be influencing countless others. (That’s multiplication.) Our graduates have started 23 seminaries around the world that we know of. There may be more. That’s leveraged influence. And I can’t get over its compounding power.
This is why I am convinced that ministries like this are of such strategic importance for the future of the church, and why your prayers and support help us touch the world for Christ. Thank you for investing in the students of RTS and the future of the church.