15. Building Future Generations

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

3 John 4

What and Why


In spiritual multiplication, movement builders not only have disciples, they have generations of disciples. Multiplication begins when the disciple you work with has his/her own disciples. Imagine that you are working with Chris. Chris loves the Lord and knows that all believers are called to make disciples. In a step of faith, Chris asks God to give him 2-3 students to work with.


As soon as Chris starts working with those students he has new responsibilities, and so do you. Chris probably needs to expand his skill set to be an effective discipler. Your new responsibility is to help Chris become a successful disciple maker. Suppose for a moment that Chris comes to you asking for help. Chris is in fact asking you to teach him how to become an effective discipler of others.


In terms of spiritual multiplication, Chris (your first-generation disciple) wants to learn how to work with others (your second-generation of disciples).


First-generation discipleship – I work with my disciples. I am teaching and encouraging them as they grow. I initiate. God has positioned me to be a significant part of their growth.


Second-generation discipleship – I work with disciples who are discipling others. My disciples are leading others, and I am encouraging/coaching their progress. My disciples are developing others, taking them to God's Word and teaching them how to share the gospel.  My disciples are directly involved in the growth of this second generation.


If we want to help Chris grow and be an effective disciple maker, what should we do? How can we contribute to the process by supporting and coaching Chris?

Learning from the Word


Read Titus 1:4-5

Click for the text

In verse 4 Paul tells us something about his relationship with Titus. What do we learn about that relationship?


We know from other places in Scripture (Galatians 2:1) that Titus was one of Paul’s traveling companions. (We could consider Titus to be on of Paul’s “first generation disciples.”) He went with Paul to Jerusalem. He also traveled to Corinth. Paul described Titus this way: “Titus…is my partner and fellow worker among you.” (2 Corinthians 8:23)


What does “fellow worker” mean?


In Titus 1:5, Paul sent Titus on a mission of great importance.


What was the mission that Titus received in Titus 1:5?


Given the nature of the task, what level of trust did Paul have in Titus?


Titus was probably led to faith by Paul. He traveled with the Apostle and became a co-worker. Paul then sent him, with full authority, to help several churches in Crete make important leadership decisions. Paul had invested in Titus, and Titus followed Paul’s example by investing in others. Paul continued to help Titus as he worked with others. In many ways, this was Paul’s purpose in writing the letter to Titus.


What things can you apply from Paul and Titus’ example to your own disciple making efforts?


How does Titus fit the description of a “faithful man” that we studied in 2 Timothy 2:2?

Connecting to the Truth


The world of sports is filled with extraordinary people who achieved stardom. When these athletes retire, occasionally some become head coaches. Interestingly, some of the great individual performers do not excel in coaching others. The tremendous abilities they had as an individual player don’t prepare them to effectively develop others.


What skills might these exceptional sportsmen need to develop to excel in coaching?


Just as personal performance in sports doesn’t automatically produce a world-class coach, neither will individual work in evangelism and follow-up necessarily give us all of the skills we need to grow generations of disciple makers.

 Targeting a shift in mentality


Sometimes we begin our work in ministry motivated by what we are doing.   We want God to use us. We want to lead others to Christ. We want to disciple someone. These activities bring great personal satisfaction and growth.


As we listen to the Lord, he expands what motivates us. He wants us to multiply the laborers. Our vision grows which creates a passion to see OTHERS sharing the gospel, and making disciples.


Perhaps the Apostle John modeled for us this type of motivation. In his third Epistle, verse 4, he writes: “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.”


What do you learn about John’s motivation from this statement?


How can you apply what you see in this verse to your own ministry?


We don’t know the specifics of the work and ministry that John’s “children” had. What we do know is that he was delighted with the choices they made. Choices that led John to say they were walking in the truth.


In order to adopt the mentality you see in John, is there anything that needs to change in your life?  


As we disciple others we embrace the goal of helping them become successful laborers. We accept responsibility to help them raise up their own disciples. This requires that we become very interested in the work of THEIR hands.

Michael had been meeting with Bob for several weeks. Bob was a hungry new believer, full of energy. Bob was growing quickly. He had learned Bible verses. On his own he had found good Christian books and was reading things that Michael had never studied! Bob started to attend church and was even going with Michael to share the gospel.


Michael then challenged Bob to a new step of faith. There was a group of three students living in the same dormitory. All of them were spiritually open. One was a believer. Michael challenged Bob to become a Bible study leader for this group of students.


Suddenly, the happy, high energy Bob experienced inner turmoil. He started to ask lots of questions. Bob’s mind seemed to fixate on the worst-case scenarios. He felt that he didn’t know enough about the Bible. He was concerned that he wouldn’t be able to help the three students. He didn’t think he was the best person for the task. Bob seemed to be intimidated by the responsibility of leading and caring for three students.

What are some of the reasons why Bob might have been frightened by this new challenge?


How could Michael help Bob become a disciple maker?


In what sense might Bob feel a little like Peter, who Jesus asked to step out of the boat and come to him on water?


What passages of Scripture might speak to this situation?


Taking Action


Those who are great disciplers share some common practices.  We can learn from those who have second and third generation disciples.  Here are some of their best practices. 

Best practices for working with a Second Generation

We often pray, asking God to provide wisdom. The following practices have demonstrated to be profitable for those working with a second generation of disciples.

Increase the time you spend with your disciple who is learning how to lead others.

Working with people raises lots of questions and presents many challenges. Plan on being an active encourager. Take time to listen. Realize that the challenge of working with others will bring new character building opportunities for your disciple. Help your disciple make the most of those opportunities.

Get to know your second generation of disciples.

Just because these new students aren’t “your disciples” doesn’t mean you need to be detached or distant. In fact, it is difficult to pray for people we don’t know. We have the opportunity to be an encouragement and a positive influence in the lives of these students. Therefore, seek occasions when you can be part of their growth. Join them for a party. Go on a retreat together. Experience life together. This will probably encourage your disciple at lot.

Remember that you play a secondary role in the lives of your second generation.

As you work with your second generation make sure that you let your disciple lead. Be a support to his/her work. Guard against the temptation to subtly take over. Remind your disciple that you believe in him/her.

Pray for your disciples.

Ask the Lord to give them wisdom and the boldness necessary for their new step of faith. Ask the Lord to remind them of who they are in Christ and that he can do all things through them. Ask the Lord to bless their work as they raise up the next generation of disciples.

My next step:


Your action step depends a great deal on what is currently happening in your work with others.


1) You might still be trusting the Lord to raise up a disciple who wants to help fulfill the Great Commission. If this is your situation, think about who you could challenge this week to join you in building a spiritual movement. Then ask them.        

2) You might have a disciple who, like Bob, is scared to take the next step. How can you challenge and support this person as they take this step of faith? What can you do this week?

3) You might have a disciple who is already working with others. Is there anything that you can do with your disciple to bring momentum and energy to his efforts of investing in those people?


My next step is:



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