Jesus is our perfect model both for maturity and also for ministry. He modeled a three-tiered ministry strategy. Tier 1 is the staging area. Jesus left the glory of heaven and became a man…without ceasing to be God, oh mystery. And He brought with Him in His incarnation this same life He experienced with His Father and the Spirit from eternity past. His life demonstrates interactive co-love and mutual care.
Jesus invites His people into this same experience in the greatest Small Group ever. He calls each of us to embrace Him fully in small, primary groups modeled after the Trinity. This was Jesus’ brilliant yet simple strategy to restore the world to intimacy with His Father. “Jesus focused on the few to reach the many.” Have we been captured yet by Jesus’ vision?
Where would you go to discover how Jesus ministered in the 1st century so you could bring His wisdom forward to minister in your context?
The four Gospels sketch out His three-tiered approach to “make & multiply disciples.” I want to suggest some thoughts for your study, and use an illustration of backpacking in the European Alps. Incredible beauty lies hidden in the remote accesses, only accessible to experienced backpackers. If I wanted to gaze on this stunning beauty firsthand, certain discernible steps are essential for my first backpacking experience, as on our spiritual journey. Jesus is the smartest man who ever lived. So these insights on Jesus’ three-tiered ministry strategy provide us with a broad, flexible guideline to train as agile, creative disciples in the 21st century.
Tier 1: DRAW IN Disciples (staging area, “Come & See”) John 1:35-4:54 and the “crowd” in the Gospels
“Come & See,” like in John 1:35-51 and later with the crowd, is like the staging area. This is an open, inviting welcome to all, women and men, rich and poor, educated and uneducated. “Come as you are” into an open, permeable group where people may fluidly come and go and get their needs met. As the crowd needed to learn, Jesus taught them. When hungry, He fed them. If sick, He healed.
Jesus designed “Come & See” to bring His Father’s presence into contact with the immediate felt-needs of the lost and the lightly committed. Those who had stepped from the antagonistic world into the curious crowd now had an opportunity to experience the caring touch of the Father and Son in community. Coming to the “staging area” is a crucial part of exploring the beauty in the Alps, but not all. What do you choose? To be more an admirer of the beauty on the heights? Or an adventurer setting out toward the heights together with others?
Tier 2: MAKE Disciples (Climbing the Trail, “Come & Follow Me”) Mark 1:17-3:13; Luke 6:17ff + parallel passages in Matt. (coming)
Tier 3: MULTIPLY Disciples (Becoming Guides, “Come & Be with Me”) Mark 3:13-15, Luke 6:17ff + parallel passages (coming)
It doesn’t matter if this is well defined in my mind, if it’s not in yours. So study the passages below yourself. Jot down what you see as the characteristics of each of the three tiers. Active learning produces strong disciples
Tier 1: DRAW IN Disciples: (John 1:35-4:54 + the “crowd” in the Gospels)
Tier 2: MAKE Disciples: (Mk 1:16-3:12; Luke 4:14-6:12 + parallel passages)
Tier 3: MULTIPLY Disciples: (Mark 3:13-15; Lk 6:12 + “disciples” afterwards)
Here is a free, downloadable Word document from an in-process book that expands on Jesus’ three-tiered approach to make & multiply disciples.