By Larry Walkemeyer

Pastor Harold led a small, evangelical holiness church in a rural town in Kansas, but the size of his church did not define the size of his kingdom impact. Harold was a C-minus preacher and organizational leader, but those limitations belie the fact that Harold was also an A-level disciple maker and a launcher of leaders.

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“He lived Spirit-empowered with the goal of empowering others.”

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During his 15-year ministry at the church, 12 vocational ministers and many other lay ministers were equipped, including me. Pastor Harold’s secret wasn’t his personal charisma but his spiritual charisma. He lived Spirit-empowered with the goal of empowering others. In essence, Harold had a high Personal Multiplication Capacity (PMC).

Every believer, and especially every leader, develops a certain level of PMC. So, what Is PMC?

Empowered and Empowering

Your PMC is the result of multiplying two factors. The first number is a self-measurement on a scale of 1–10 of your daily empowerment level. How Spirit-empowered are you living today? How spiritually attuned, activated, prayerful, faith-filled, humble, ablaze and holy are you today (Acts 1:8; Ephesians 5:18)?

The second factor is a daily self-measurement (also 1–10) of how empowering you are as a discipler or leader of other believers. How are you serving a few individuals to elevate them into the fullness of their calling? How much of your ministry is producing ministers and not just ministry “product” (2 Timothy 2:2; Ephesians 4:12)?

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“His empowerment was focused on making disciples who would multiply His ministry.”

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When these two factors (empowered and empowering) are multiplied, they produce a subjective, but potentially life-changing score, which is your Personal Multiplication Capacity. The exactness of the score is not what matters, but living in a daily pursuit of this PMC paradigm can radically increase your kingdom impact.

Jesus is the apex (the 10 out of 10) of what PMC looks like. His submission, faith, spiritual habits and obedience positioned Him to live fully empowered by the Spirit. Then, Jesus prioritized using that empowerment to empower a few ordinary people to replicate His character and ministry. Yes, Jesus preached to crowds, healed the sick and cast out demons. But His empowerment was focused on making disciples who would multiply His ministry. Why?

Because Jesus knew a small number of multiplying disciples carried more kingdom potential than the largest crowd He could teach. Consequently, roughly 75% of His recorded time was spent discipling and empowering those closest to Him. As Howard Hendricks said, “We teach what we know, but we reproduce who we are.” We can only truly share who we are by being up close and personal.

Fuel Multiplication

I have found abysmal PMC levels among pastors and believers. Spiritual empowerment levels are low. Time in the presence of Jesus and soaking in His Word have been substituted with screen time.

Regarding empowering others, leaders have been shaped by contemporary church culture to prioritize the platform, programs, classroom and social media. If you ask what preacher they listen to online, or what they preached last week, they can readily tell you. But if you ask, “Give me the names of two or three people who would tell me that you are personally discipling them,” get ready for a blank stare or sudden stammering.

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“Jesus was investing in the few to reach the many.”

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What is true for individuals is also true for churches. Churches have majored in addition without using addition to fuel multiplication. The results are in and they are disheartening. According to Barna, the share of practicing Christians in America has nearly dropped in half since 2000. That statistic must surely be linked to this one from a survey by Discipleship.org and Exponential: “Fewer than 5% of churches in the United States have a reproducing disciple-making culture.”

What the church needs is Jesus-style discipling. The Greek word diatribo is translated “spent some time” in John 3:22: “After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized.” Diatribo also means “to rub in,” like rubbing seasoning into a tri-tip so that it penetrates, permeates and flavors every bite. Additionally, the word was used to describe breaking in a new pair of sandals. You imprinted them with your foot shape.

Jesus, “full of the Holy Spirit” (Luke 4:1), selected His disciples and then spent time “rubbing” the life of the Spirit into them. He was imprinting them. Jesus was training them how to be empowered and empowering, how to live like He lived and then to do what He did — primarily make disciples. Jesus was investing in the few to reach the many.

Fruit That Lasts

Sadly, it took years of ministry to awaken me to my own low PMC. I was deeply committed to Christ, loved the Bible and experienced frequent encounters with the Holy Spirit. But I was living far below the daily empowerment of the Spirit available to me.

The power I did receive from the Spirit I primarily used to build my ministry — meaning my preaching, speaking, writing and organizational leadership. And it was an effective ministry. People were getting saved, the church was growing, ministry programs were being added. But I didn’t feel I had time to personally, directly disciple people. I excused myself by reasoning I was discipling them indirectly by teaching groups to go and do what I wasn’t doing.

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“Fruit doesn’t last by focusing on self-perseveration, but by distributing itself in the soil around it.”

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But a certain level of ministry frustration and exhaustion began to settle into my soul. I started to question whether my model of ministry was producing the maximum kingdom fruit. Jesus’ statement in John 15:16 started to disturb me: “I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit — fruit that will last.”

Fruit doesn’t last by focusing on self-perseveration, but by distributing itself in the soil around it, then dying to reproduce. Most of the fruit I was bearing was enjoying the branch until it rotted away (i.e., consumer Christians). I wasn’t empowering people to disciple and spiritually lead others. I wasn’t rubbing off on a few people so they would reproduce and multiply. I was using my gifts to grow the church but not laying down my life to multiply the church through disciple making.

I had to repent in two directions. First, I repented of settling for a status quo empowerment level, of failing to feed the fire of the Spirit so I could be ablaze daily. Second, I repented of failing to deeply invest in empowering those around me to follow God’s call for their lives and invest in others. Thankfully, my PMC has started to rise. Here’s one current example:

Greg is the chief executive officer of a construction company who, through a wild God-story, became a disciple of mine. The old Larry would have been too busy in ministry to personally invest in Greg’s spiritual maturation. The new Larry saw Greg as a friend and at the top of my ministry priority list. As we met, Greg, a lifelong nominal Christian, grew from a “good deeds religious guy” (his words) to an on-fire, disciple-making Jesus follower. In the last 18 months, he has been evangelizing wherever he is. He now thinks through a PMC lens. Last month he told me of two men he is discipling, and how he expects to have three discipleship groups in the near future.

Anyone can be a Harold or a Greg. Any willing Christ follower can raise their PMC. When this Jesus-style discipleship becomes normative in the church, we will see a book of Acts kind of kingdom impact in our nation.

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Larry Walkemeyer, D.Min., is co-strategic catalyst for multiplication on the Free Methodist Church USA Executive Leadership Team along with his wife, Deb, to encourage the multiplication of disciples, leaders, and churches nationally. He also serves as a global pastor for Light & Life Christian Fellowship in Long Beach, California; the director of equipping and spiritual engagement for Exponential; and a member of Azusa Pacific University’s Board of Trustees. His latest book is “The Empowerment Factor: Increasing Your Personal Multiplication Capacity.” Earlier versions of this article appeared on the Exponential and Outreach Magazine websites, and the article is republished with the author’s permission.

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